Taylor's announcement left Pat Downey -- winner of the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament and Taylor's would-be opponent for Final X -- as the de facto 86-kilogram champion and USA representative at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan.
While losing Taylor for the World Championships is a disappointment for fans of USA Wrestling, it must be noted that there are serious implications on how his absence will affect Team USA's qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games.
As of now Downey can qualify the spot by placing in the top six at the World Championships. While he has a very distant shot at winning the world title, it's reasonable to assume that he could progress to the medal round, which would earn Team USA their ticket at 86 kilograms.
However, should he fail to qualify a larger issue may play out over the next several months. Nations who have failed to qualify at the World Championships may attempt to earn their tickets to Tokyo 2020 at the continental qualifier, and if not there, then the Last Chance Qualifier.
While it would stand to reason that Downey, not Taylor, would by rule be the wrestler for the continental qualification tournament in Ottawa March 13-15, that regulation hasn't been written. Also, given the severity of Taylor's injury it's unclear if he'd be prepared to compete by March.
Still, if it's Downey then he'd be a favorite against most of the Pan Am representatives, save Cuba's Yurieski Torreblanca (who may qualify in Nur-Sultan).
But what if he fails to qualify in Ottawa?
Well, the Last Chance Qualifier starts April 30 and the USA Olympic team selection process is scheduled for the first week of April. That means whoever makes the team in the Olympic year would have the chance to get back into the starting spot.
All of this is barring any changes (known or unknown) to the qualification system.
Oh, and if you want to really run loose on what-if's … wrestlers who are qualified for Final X have up until 48 hours before the start of the event to declare injury and reschedule. No matter what they have or have not said in the news.
To your questions …
Q: Do you expect USA to qualify all 18 weight classes for the 2020 Olympics?
-- Mike C.
Foley: I don't. This is partly because no country was able to qualify all 18 wrestlers in 2016, and partly because there are just way too many things that can go wrong, especially in Greco-Roman.
Russia qualified 17 weights in 2020, USA qualified 14, missing two in women's wrestling and one in Greco-Roman. That might indicate the same problem in 2020, but I think that the women's team will have an easier time qualifying at Worlds than the Greco team. Of course the one massive advantage for the Greco-Roman team is that there just isn't very good Greco-Roman at Pan Ams. Could be an easier ticket for them to punch once it gets to the continental level.
Q: Is the nearfall point ever discussed in coming back in freestyle/Greco? Is there a reason they got rid of it?
Foley: The major rule changes for the sport of wrestling came after the 2013 announcement that wrestling would be removed from the Olympic Games. I wasn't in the room for the actual meetings with the consultants, nor the final votes, but the paperwork kicked off from those meetings showed that there was too much confusion in the rules.
I don't remember when the one-point hold was eliminated, but I think that the 2013 rule changes brought on a dominating philosophy that wrestling rules should both err on the side of simplicity and always favor the more aggressive athlete. Given that foundation I'd be very surprised to see any change to one-point techniques, especially in freestyle where the rules have been promoting a lot of action.
Q: Andy Hrovat tweeted that "(Adam) Coon has made no improvement in his wrestling since entering college." Sour grapes and/or some sort of falling out with the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club? Or is there some truth to his tweet? Based on the fact that he won a U.S. Open title, beat Kyle Snyder in college and made a world final in Greco, seems like he has made improvement. I don't think he could have accomplished any of those things in high school.
-- Mike C.
Over training, too long a season and not enough urgency until he realized he was vulnerable. I called it last night. Coon as made no improvement in his wrestling since entering college. Gable made the right adjustments. I predicted 3 matches but he proved me wrong.�" Andy Hrovat (@AndyHrovat) May 19, 2019
Foley: I mean that is an OUTRAGEOUS and patently false statement. Not only must he have improved based on his freshman results versus his senior results, but he also won a world silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling. So where he lost before, now he wins. What other metric for "better" could we use?
Coon can look clumsy on his feet sometimes, especially in freestyle, but that is more so in recent years as he's stepped into action more as a habit brought over from Greco-Roman.
Presented without comment: "The Man" by Reece Humphrey
Q: Biggest pet peeves in wrestling? For me it's music during the finals of UWW events! It makes it so anticlimactic.
Foley: I've sat through roughly 63,490 minutes of finals matches at United World Wrestling events and had to assume you meant the Russian and Japanese national anthems since those are the most anticlimactic for me!
Went back and listened to some matches. What music? The drums for the award ceremony are famous with several other international federations actually stealing the same soundtrack! During the match I did hear the sonic identity (kind of clubby music) in a few and then some softer background sound music in a few other matches.
Post a link!
Q: Any idea what weight class Frank Staebler will be going in 2020? Looks like he is getting smaller.
Foley: He's heading down to 67 kilograms for Kazakhstan.
Q: I see Townsend Saunders is getting inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame this weekend as a Distinguished Member. His wife Tricia Saunders is a previous inductee. Any idea what family has the most members in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame?
-- Mike C.
Foley: There are a lot of brothers and father/son combos in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, but I could only find one surname with three related people: Rex Peery and his sons Ed Peery and Hugh Peery.