MEDIAPOLIS — Taylor Zippe thought his wrestling days were a thing of the past.
After a modest career wrestling for Hall of Fame coach Dan Cummings at Mediapolis High School, Zippe graduated in 2012 and immediately entered the United States Marine Corps. College wasn't in the cards for Zippe, a 2010 state wrestling qualifier for the Bulldogs.
No, Zippe was going to make the military his career, using the discipline he learned from wrestling to help him succeed.
Wrestling? No way. Zippe was convinced he had put on a singlet for the last time, stepped on the mat for the final time in 2012 at Mediapolis.
Everything changed for Zippe two years ago. A spot opened up on the All-Marine wrestling team. The trouble was, the All-Marine team is almost exclusively Greco-Roman wrestling, a style Zippe had never tried before.
Zippe tried out for the team and not only secured a spot, but has worked his way up the ranks and is now ranked 10th in the latest U.S. Senior Greco-Roman rankings at 67 kilograms (147 1/2 pounds).
Zippe is taking aim at a spot on Team USA and compete in the World Championships and the 2020 Olympic Games.
Zippe, who thought his wrestling days were a thing of the past, is now one of the top Greco-Roman wrestlers in the nation with ambitions of reaching the pinnacle of the sport in he next two years.
"It's pretty exciting. I've been on the All-Marine team the last two years now and I will be on the team until the end of the next Olympic cycle," said Zippe, an E5 Sargent stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. "My goal is to make the national team and compete in the World Championships and the Olympics. I just need to keep training hard. We have a really good team and good teammates and they push me hard. We have a really strong program and everyone here has bought into the process."
Zippe got his first taste of wrestling when he was in third grade. It left a bitter taste in his mouth, but he picked it up again two years later. He went on to compete for Mediapolis, posting a 54-43 record while competing from 2009-12. That included a trip to the state tournament his sophomore year in 2010.
The lessons Zippe learned from Cummings, assistant coach Shawn Timmerman and the rest of the staff and teammates at Mediapolis carried over. He still leans heavily on those lessons today.
"Mediapolis has such a great tradition in wrestling. They teach you to keep working hard and training hard. It helped me develop a wrestling mentality," Zippe said. "Wrestling teaches you discipline, just going to practice every day and working hard. It give you mental toughness and it teaches you to stay calm under pressure."
After graduating from Mediapolis, Zippe was stationed in San Diego for four years before being reassigned to Camp Lajeune. Zippe said the discipline he learned in wrestling came into play right away in the military.
"I went to boot camp and I was able to stick it out," Zippe said. "It was three months long and it took a lot of discipline."
Zippe competed in the Dave Schultz Memorial Invitational in January in Colorado Springs and is training for the U.S. Open Senior Nationals next week in Las Vegas. He hopes to make a statement there which will propel him up the rankings with the World Team Trials Challenge coming up next month.
"Training can be difficult at times, but since I am a permanent, full-time member of the wrestling team, we train every single day. They allow us time to fulfill our military duties, too," Zippe said. "I finished sixth at the U.S. Open last year, so this year I really want to get in the top three. That's my main goal right now."