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‘I told Him I Love Him’: Mutual Respect Between Penn State Wrestling Legends Evident in Olympic Trials Main Event

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - APRIL 20: David Taylor (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) and Aaron Brooks (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) wrestle in the men’s freestyle 86kg division of the Olympic Wrestling Team Trials on April, 20, 2024 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

The most anticipated series of the whole Olympic Trials delivered in a big way on Saturday night, and Penn State wrestling was at the forefront.

Most thought that Aaron Brooks and defending 86 kg Olympic gold medalist David Taylor would put up at least two of the closest matches of the night, and it would probably need a third match to be decided.

It turned out the two matches were a true passing of the torch moment from Taylor to Brooks.

Brooks followed up his 4-1 victory in the afternoon session with one of the most entertaining bouts of the night. He led 3-1 late in the match and had to fight off a strong takedown attempt from Taylor. A stalemate was called with eight seconds left, and Brooks hung on to punch his ticket to the Paris Games in July.

“I knew that second match he was going to come out a lot harder than he did the first match.,” Brooks said.

Brooks will now look to take the world by storm as a 23-year-old, just like his counterpart that is 10 years older than him did three years ago at the Tokyo Olympics.

Like beating any teammate, it came bittersweet for Brooks.

“I told (Taylor) I love him,” Brooks said. “He’s one of the first guys (I wanted to beat) in this sport on my list. It’s been a blessing to be around him. He definitely made history in wrestling.”

Taylor has been a mentor to Brooks over the years with both having decorated collegiate careers with Penn State wrestling. Taylor had two gold medals to go along with two silvers in college, and Brooks finished his career last month with four golds.

Brooks joins Nittany Lion Wrestling Club members Kyle Dake (74 kg) and Kyle Snyder (97 kg), as well as Michigan’s Mason Parris (125 kg) as freestyle winners qualified for the Olympics. Iowa’s Spencer Lee (57 kg) and NLWC’s Zain Retherford (65 kg) must qualify for their weight in Istanbul, Turkey in May.

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