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Friday, Dec. 8
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

Walsh nears IU pin record


Only in his redshirt junior season, wrestler Taylor Walsh has already surpassed four-time All-American and national champion Angel Escobedo for the second most pins in school history. His 44 pins are  three shy of the school record.

Walsh leads the nation with 23 pins this season. He has broken the all-time IU record of 19, procuring 23 thus far. Walsh has nearly two more months of action to further elevate his record.

Walsh began wrestling relatively late, said Matt Walsh, Taylor’s father and an inner-city wrestling coach.

Matt said he knew the risks of forcing a sport on his son too young.
“Most kids start wrestling at 4 or 5 ... but I never pushed him on it. I didn’t want to spoil it for him,” Matt said.

Walsh began wrestling in the third grade. After struggling in his first year, winning only two or three matches, Walsh said he went on a binge of wrestling matches.

“I was wrestling 100 matches a year,” he said.

Walsh said the mat experience he gained markedly improved his ability.

Walsh said his appearance led to opponents doubting his ability and mocking him.

 “I had bleach-blonde hair, glasses and used to get made fun of. They called me Harry Potter,” Walsh said.

Walsh used his appearance as a stratagem to elevate the confidence of his opponent, he said.

“I would intentionally mope around so the kid would get overconfident ... then I would go out and kill the kid,” Walsh said.

Joe Melchiore, four-time All-American and Walsh’s coach and mentor since the age of 9, said he was special.

“He has something you can’t teach.”,” he said.

Pete Dipol, Walsh’s high school coach, backed Melchiore’s sentiment.

“He’s a rare talent,” Dipol said.

Walsh was undefeated throughout junior high school, pinning all but one opponent.  
In high school, he went to the state finals three times, winning the championship twice for Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Walsh said critics claimed  his unorthodox style couldn’t translate to the collegiate level. Despite this, Walsh received multiple wrestling scholarships to attend a multitude of colleges, including IU, Ryder and North Carolina.

He said the prestige of the Big Ten Conference, the campus and the distance from his  New Jersey home attracted him to IU.

“I saw people go to school close by, and their hometown friends were always visiting, and I knew that could be a negative influence,”  he said.

Walsh advanced to the NCAA Championships his freshman and sophomore seasons. This year, he began ranked No. 4. 

Walsh’s jump into elite status is a product of his long-standing mental approach and his confidence, Dipol said.

During high school he began working with a sports psychologist to strengthen his mind.

“I never minded losing during the season because you have to take the losses as a learning experience,” he said.

Before every match, Walsh sits in solitude and enters a tranquil state of mind.
 “I will sit in a corner by myself or in the locker room, say a prayer, clear my mind and use a breathing pattern to calm me down,” Walsh said.

Melchiore and Dipol both said Walsh hasn’t reached his peak yet.

“The sky is the limit,” Matt said.

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