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‘That’s what we do!’: Bo Nickal, David Taylor set to battle for Olympic wrestling spot

Bo Nickal

Bo Nickal’s famous line “That’s what we do!” from the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships sums up his greatness, and the greatness of Penn State wrestling. David Taylor was one of the greatest wrestlers in PSU history, winning two Hodge Trophies during his brilliant career.

Tonight, the two legendary Penn State wrestlers will square off against each other with an Olympic berth on the line.

Nickal and Taylor have advanced to the finals at 86kg in the U.S. Olympic Trials in Fort Worth, Texas. Both now will be seeking their first appearance in the Olympics and will be representing the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club when they battle it out this evening.

They will take part in a best-of-three matchup to determine who goes to the Olympics in Tokyo later this year.

Taylor won the Hodge Trophy in 2012 and ’14 and was a two-time NCAA champion, plus he reached the NCAA finals four times.

Nickal won the Hodge Trophy in 2019 and was a three-time NCAA champion. His colorful personality was on display right here:

 

Taylor is a three-time U.S. national champion (2015, ’17, ’18).

Nickal was U.S. champion in 2019 at 92 kg and won the gold medal at the U23 World Championships in 2019. Now he’s going up against Taylor at 86 kg

It’s tough to say who could have the advantage tonight. Taylor is 30 years old and has a lot of experience at 86 kg, plus a lot of experience in national and international competitions. Nickal is 25 years old and doesn’t have as much experience in these types of competitions.

Still, both are phenomenal wrestlers, and they know each other very well.

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“I know Bo. We’ve been training together. We’ve been friends and brothers for a long time,” Taylor said in this story from Team USA. “I mean we know what we’re going to expect from each other, and it’s going to be a war. It’s going to be a battle, so I’m going to have to stay focused the entire time.”

Whoever wins will represent the United States, Penn State and the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

Kyle Snyder, representing the NLWC, will be in the finals at 97 kg. He won the Olympic gold medal in 2016 and will be looking for a repeat in Tokyo. He wrestled in college at Ohio State.

Thomas Gilman, who wrestled at Iowa and represents the NLWC, will be in the finals at 57 kg.

Tonight’s schedule and how to watch, from FloWrestling:

Saturday, April 3 Challenge Tournament Consolations 1 p.m. Peacock | LIVE STREAMS
Championship Series Mat 2 7:30 p.m. NBCSN | LIVE STREAM
Championship Series Mats 1, 3, 4 7:30 p.m. Peacock | LIVE STREAMS

 

All results from Friday’s action, featuring numerous current and former PSU wrestlers, can be found here from FloWrestling.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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