UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nittany Lion wrestler David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio) has been named the Jesse Owens Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year. Taylor was joined on the women's side by Purdue's Dani Bunch, a track and field stand-out for the Boilermakers.
Taylor is only the second Penn Stater to ever to be named Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year since the honor's inception in 1982, joining men's gymnast Luis Vargas, who won the award in 2005. He is the eighth wrestler to win the award. Six Penn State women have been named Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year, with the last being Megan Hodge (2010, women's volleyball).
Taylor became the second straight member of head coach Cael Sanderson's Nittany Lion wrestlers to win Penn State Male Athlete of the Year earlier this month (teammate Ed Ruth won last year's Penn State honor), putting him on the ballot for the Owens Award. Taylor recently wrapped up one of collegiate wrestling's most historic careers. He won the 2014 Hodge Trophy as the nation's top wrestler and was Big Ten Wrestler of the Year for the third time. Taylor became Penn State's first-ever four-time NCAA finalist and won his second NCAA individual title at 165, leading Penn State to its fourth-straight NCAA Championship in Oklahoma City in March.
Taylor's 2014 accolades were stunning: Hodge Trophy Award (won twice during his career), NCAA National Champion (for the second time), NCAA Finalist (for the fourth time), NCAA All-American (for the fourth time), Big Ten Wrestler of the Year (for the third time), NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler Award, NCAA Championships Outstanding Wrestler, Big Ten Champion (Penn State's first four-time Big Ten Champion, joining Ruth with that honor), three-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Week, Academic All-Big Ten (for the fourth time), NWCA First Team All-Academic (for the fourth time), Capital One First Team Academic All-American.
His career numbers are a testament to Taylor's dominance throughout a landmark collegiate wrestling career. He leaves Penn State as a member of four NCAA Championship teams and four Big Ten Championships teams. Taylor went 34-0 this season to end the year as the nation's lone unbeaten Division I wrestler and closed out his career with a 134-3 record. His 97.8 career win percentage included an all-time Penn State best 53 pins (ties a school record), 42 technical falls and 30 majors, meaning 125 of his 137 career matches were won by a major or better. Taylor never lost in a dual meet and was a perfect 56-0 all-time against Big Ten competition.