A Big Man Determined To Do Big Things
Jan. 20, 2004
Let's face it. Dan Taylor is a big man determined to do big things.
Whether it's defending his Big Ten Championship, earning All-America status, competing in the Olympics, or even just building houses, the Ohio State senior is as determined as ever.
The reigning Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year in both indoor and outdoor track and field, Taylor is already off to a record-breaking start.
In the season opening Buckeye Invitational (Jan. 10), he set an American collegiate record in the weight throw at a distance of 23.22 meters/76 feet, 2.25 inches, bettering the previous mark of 22.77m/74-8.5 held by Kevin Mannon of Wyoming. His performance earned him both Big Ten and USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week honors.
For some athletes, they'll compete an entire four years and maybe earn one Big Ten Athlete of the Week nod. For Taylor, the weekly accolade comes his way like rain to the Pacific Northwest. His first award of 2004 was his eighth over the past two seasons.
The voting is not rigged by any means. Taylor just finds a way to perform better each week.
"Last year was a lot of fun for me. It seemed like every week I kept putting up better throws," he says.
So it's really to no one's surprise that Taylor took to the track in his first meet of the year and threw for the record distance.
"It's exciting to break a record anytime, but the first meet of the year was a great way to start," he says. "I know I can go farther though. It's exciting to see how much I can put it past that. We're just getting going."
Hearing Taylor speak like that is almost as intimidating as his 6-6, 330-pound frame.
The man is quite simply a tank.
In fact, Taylor might just be the biggest thing to come out of Burton, Ohio - a "small little farm town of 1,300 people in Northeast Ohio."
But choosing Ohio State certainly wasn't a difficult decision for Taylor, as he is a third-generation Buckeye. However, the five-time All-American might need to claim a couple more honors and records to earn the Buckeye celebrity status in the family, since his uncle, Vernon Howard, has dotted the "I" in the Script Ohio - arguably the most famous tradition in the state.
Since the completion of his outdoor season last year, Taylor has really been doing two things: lifting weights and throwing.
"You have to have strength," he says. "You have to have those repetitions when you throw."
In talking with the Buckeye, he also noted more than once how important it was for him to "just get stronger."
This is a guy who bench presses 500 pounds, hang cleans 450, and squats 675, and he still wants to get stronger.
One might think that Taylor could pursue a career in lifting houses in a World's Strongest Man competition, but he'd rather learn to build one.
Taylor is wrapping up his degree in construction systems management. He admits that it took him a while to get settled on the major after looking into engineering and architecture, but claims he's always had a passion to build.
"As a kid, I would always take stuff apart and try to put it back together," he says. "My major basically focuses on building residential houses and commercial buildings. We have learned everything from how to read blueprints, figure estimates and how to frame houses."
Taylor could certainly draft up a blueprint on how to excel in each of the throwing events. Last year he broke the Big Ten record in the weight throw to claim the Big Ten Championship, and over the summer he competed in the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.
"That was a really good experience for me. I was throwing against the top guys at the Pan Am Games."
But rising to that level of competition is what he does.
"Obviously making the Olympics is the biggest goal of mine," he says. "It's a track athlete's ultimate goal and motivation. It's the pinnacle of our sport. It's all you need."
For the time being, Taylor will focus on closing out his athletic career just how this year's indoor season began…in record-breaking fashion.
"I want to break the Big Ten shot put record that was set by (Ohio State's) Kevin Akins back in 1982. I'm also going to try as hard as I can for a double national championship in the weight and the shot."
One thing is for sure…Dan Taylor is most definitely a big man determined to do big things.