Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – It took less than 24 hours at the state wrestling meet last month for Hayden Taylor to solidify himself as one of the brightest young stars in the state.
As it turns out the Solon freshman had spent the last 24 months preparing for his time on the state’s biggest stage.
Taylor capped an impressive state meet with back-to-back dominating wins to claim the Class 2A 126-pound title in his first state meet appearance.
Taylor won the final 20 matches of his freshman season, finished with a 51-2 record and became the fifth state champion in Solon history and first two win a title as a freshman.
For all of his accomplishments Taylor has been named the Your Prep Sports Wrestler of the Year and the captain of the 2019 Your Prep Sports Wrestling Team.
“It was a great feeling but I’ve been preparing for this since seventh grade,” Taylor said. “It’s an indescribable feeling to have all the hours you put in finally pay off.”
Taylor had already had an impressive debut season before the final 24 hours of his freshman season.
He won WAMAC Conference, section and district titles and brought a 47-2 record and No. 3 ranking to the state meet.
“Even in the beginning at we knew he was going to be good but we went to (the season opener at) Independence and said saw he was competing at a really, really high level right off the bat,” Solon coach Blake Williams said. “He just continued to get better and better throughout the season.”
Taylor cruised to the state semifinals with a pin and an 8-2 decision over seventh-ranked Eric Kinkaid of Camanche to set up a semifinal match with unbeaten and top-ranked defending state champion Andrew Flora of ADM.
The semifinal showdown many anticipated never developed. Instead a star was born.
Taylor needed just 4:45 to roll up a 15-0 tech fall over Flora in a methodical performance that drew attention from every corner of a nearly sold out Wells Fargo Arena.
“There was a buzz around that arena about that match,” Williams said. “He was an undefeated state champ, I don’t know how many wins he had in a row, that win, you could see people were buzzing.”
The semifinal put Taylor on the map state-wide. Taking a part a defending state champion with one loss in his last 83 matches will do that.
However Taylor himself wasn’t stunned by his accomplishment.
“I always expect myself to win,” Taylor said. “The semifinals finals match I was a little bit nervous for that one but once I got out there and wrestled it kind of flowed. My finals match I was just ready.”
There was no let down from Taylor in the final as he earned a 11-3 major decision over fifth-ranked Bryce Hatten of Winterset.
Taylor outscored his final three opponents 34-5 on his way to the state title.
“The thing that stands out with him is his confidence,” Williams said. “When he steps on the mat he believes he is going to win and that showed at state. Not only win but he believes he is going to win decisively.”
Taylor always dreamed of being a four-time state champion but isn’t fixated on that right now.
He knows it’s still early in his career.
“That was always a dream of mine and getting the first one feels really good, it keeps you on the track for that but I’m not thinking about that right now,” Taylor said. “I’m just trying to win another one.”
Taylor is already back to preparing, the same way he prepared for his first season.
He will continue wrestling through the spring and summer before taking a couple of weeks off.
Williams believes what Taylor showed the rest of the state last month is just a glimpse of what he is capable of.
“This is just a step,” Williams said. “I know it was a goal of Hayden’s but he has more goals than just winning one state title. He has some offseason goals and everything that he has to do is for a reason and part of the process for where he wants to be by the time he graduates.”
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