After winning 128 matches and holding the all-time pins record in IU history, senior Taylor Walsh still had something missing from his career resume: He had yet to make a run in the NCAA Championships.
The 165-pounder ended his four-year career with a second-place finish and All-America honors in St. Louis as he lost 14-7 to undefeated defending champ Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State.
“He’s always been a great pinner and been one of the best guys in the country, but this was kind of the stone left unturned,” IU Coach Duane Goldman said. “So it was really good to see him get in there and go through the tournament.”
The No. 6 seed in his bracket, Walsh started his run with victories against Pierce Harger of Northwestern and Mike England of Missouri. Next up was Wisconsin’s Isaac Jordan.
Jordan had defeated Walsh five times before, each time by decision.
Walsh got his redemption in his final career meeting with Jordan, as he won by a 4-3 decision to advance to the semifinals. He then pinned North Carolina’s Ethan Ramos to set up his meeting with Dieringer.
“Taylor went after him pretty hard and was aggressive throughout the match, and unfortunately it didn’t go his way, but he competed hard and represented us well,” Goldman said.
Goldman attributed the defeat to Walsh allowing Dieringer to get in to his legs too often. Walsh said he could have had a better game plan about how to handle him in a close match.
It was the final match of his career, but that didn’t hit him right away.
“You don’t really think about that right away,” Walsh said. “You just start to analyze your match a little bit.It kicked in a little bit later that I don’t have any college matches left to wrestle, but I have had a lot of fun, some success.”
Goldman said it was a great way for Walsh to finish his career as it showed what he is capable of and where he stands on the national level.
He now sits at fourth in IU history with 132 wins and owns the single-season pins record to go with his career record of 69.
“Wrestling has taught me a lot about life as far as hard work and discipline,” Walsh said. “Sometimes you’ve got to cut weight, sometimes your toughest match isn’t even on the mat. It’s just the things you have to give up in order to step out on the mat.”
He does not know exactly what is next after he graduates, he said. He’s focusing on finishing school and will take some job interviews down the road.
Walsh credits much of his success to the fact that he has fun on the mat. He learns from his losses and makes adjustments after each match. Goldman had a different outlook on Walsh’s successes.
“He is just competitor,” he said. “He likes to win.”