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First-time Olympian Aaron Brooks shares emotional message to Penn State wrestling legend David Taylor

Perhaps a symbolic passing of the torch between Penn State wrestling greats, Aaron Brooks shared his emotional message to David Taylor after becoming a first-time Olympian Saturday night.



Penn State wrestling, Aaron Brooks, David Taylor, 2024 Summer Olympics, Olympic Team Trials
Apr 20, 2024; State College, Pennsylvania, USA; Aaron Brookes (left) shares a moment with David Taylor (right) after defeating him 3-1 by decision in the 86 kilograms Freestyle Championship Final during day two of the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials at Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Aaron Brooks’ world, we’re just living in it. In March, Brooks stood atop the podium in Kansas City to claim his fourth individual NCAA Championship. Four weeks and one Hodge Trophy later, the Penn State wrestling star has punched his ticket to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. To get there, Brooks had to pull off the upset of the Olympic Team Trials, taking down Nittany Lions Wrestling Club teammate and reigning Gold Medalist David Taylor. In what was potentially a symbolic passing of the torch from one Penn State icon to the next, the first-time Olympian shared his emotional message to Taylor at the center of the Bryce Jordan Center mat on Saturday night.

Aaron Brooks defeats David Taylor in the upset of Olympic Team Trials

To say David Taylor dominated the international freestyle wrestling circuit coming into the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials may be an understatement. Taylor had lost one match since 2018 going into Saturday, to Iranian wrestler Hassan Yazdani at the 2021 World Championships.

That is, until he ran into Aaron Brooks in the Olympic Trials Championship. Brooks swept Taylor in the best-of-three series, winning the opening match 4-1 on Saturday morning, followed by a 3-1 victory before an electric Bryce Jordan Center crowd in the evening session.

A feat on its own given Taylor’s vice grip on the sport, the upset was made even more impressive considering that Brooks did so on almost no sleep, working out until 2 a.m. after day one of Trials in order to make weight on Saturday morning.

First-time Olympian shares emotional message to Penn State wrestling legend

However, what will be remembered about the match is the moment shared between the two Penn State wrestling icons on the Bryce Jordan Center mat following Brooks’ victory.

At age 33, the 2024 Summer Olympics may have been the last chance for David Taylor to push for one final Gold Medal. In essence, Taylor may not have just been giving up his title. It may have been a passing of the mantle from one Nittany Lion to another.

After exiting the mat as an Olympian, Aaron Brooks gave a glimpse into those emotional few words shared with David Taylor.

“I told him I love him,” Brooks said. “You know, he’s one of the first guys to make this program what it is. You know, him and a couple of guys [like] Quentin Wright. It’s been a blessing being around him — watching what he does. And he definitely changed me this year in wrestling.”

Brooks said that in the lead-up to the Olympic Team Trials, the two didn’t train with each other “out of respect.” But even still, Brooks believes their shared presence in the NLWC room served a purpose. “We kind of both knew we had a chance at meeting. But iron sharpens iron. Seeing him in the room, him seeing me [helped us both].”

“But for me, faith in the Lord,” Brooks said, crediting his victory. “He gives me wisdom, knowledge that surpasses all. Some things I wouldn’t figure out myself, He showed me in wrestling. So, praise to Him.”

You can watch the entire interview with Aaron Brooks following the Olympic Trials Championship on the Basic Blues Nation YouTube Channel.

Most wrestlers won’t accomplish in a lifetime what Aaron Brooks has done in the last 28 days. But even as he checks off the goals he mapped out at the start of the year, the Nittany Lion is only focused on what’s ahead. After all, Paris awaits.

“[I’m] just not thinking about it, you know?” he said. “I wrestle right now, so I’m just trying to get better. That’s where I’m at.”

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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