David Taylor and Bo Nickal, two of Penn State's most decorated wrestlers, will square off Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials for a trip to the Tokyo Games.
Taylor and Nickal will meet in the best-of-three Championship Series final Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. The winner earns Team USA's 86 kg freestyle spot at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Championship Series finals will be broadcast on NBCSN.
"I know Bo. We’ve been training together. We’ve been friends and brothers for a long time," Taylor told USA Wrestling on Friday. "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."
Taylor, the 2018 world champion at 86kg, is the No. 1 seed at the trials. He advanced to the Championship Series with a 4-0 victory over Gabe Dean of the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club.
Nickal, seeded sixth, upset second-seeded Zahid Valencia of Sunkist 12-5 in the semifinals. Both wrestlers represent the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and are competing for their first trip to the Olympics.
Taylor and Nickal had two of the most storied careers in Penn State wrestling history. Taylor won two NCAA titles and reached the final four times. He won the Hodge Award as the top college wrestler in 2011 and '13.
Taylor finished his career with a 134-3 record at Penn State, ranking second in program history for winning percentage (97.81). He also went 63-0 in dual meets for the Lions.
Nickal won the Hodge Award in 2019 after claiming his third NCAA championship. Nickal went 120-3 at Penn State and recorded 59 career pins, second on the program's all-time list. Nickal went 19-1 at the NCAA tournament. Like Taylor, he was a four-time NCAA fnalist.
Thomas Gilman (56kg) and Kyle Snyder (97kg) will represent the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club in the freestyle Championship Series.
Helen Maroulis, a defending Olympic champion who trains with the NLWC, is in the 57kg final of women's freestyle.