Drew Foster ended his folkstyle wrestling career on top, beating Maxwell Dean of Cornell to win the 184-pound NCAA Division I championship six weeks ago for the University of Northern Iowa.
On Monday, the Mediapolis High School graduate will start his international freestyle career at the top, facing top-ranked David Taylor in an 86 kilogram match at the Beat the Streets Grapple at the Garden May 6 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The annual event pits members of Team USA against reigning NCAA champions.
For Foster, it is the opportunity of a lifetime.
"I'm excited. It's a chance to got to New York City and represent UNI and what we are all about," Foster said. "They reached out to me about a week after nationals. Initially I was supposed to wrestle J'Den Cox, but they changed it and now I'm going to wrestle David Taylor. I'm just excited for the opportunity to get out there and wrestle."
Foster, who made a magical run through the postseason to become UNI's first national champion since 2000, will have his hands full against Taylor, a two-time national champion for Penn State who currently is ranked No. 1 at 86 kg in the U.S. Senior Men's Freestyle rankings.
Taylor's résumé is impressive:
• Third in 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials
• Two-time U.S. World Team Trials runner-up (2014, 2017)
• Third in 2015 U.S. World Team Trials
• Two-time U.S. Open champion (2015, 2017)
• World Cup champion (2017)
• Third in World University Games (2013)
• Two-time Grand Prix of Spain champion (2015, 2016)
• Paris International champion (2017)
• Two-time NCAA champion for Penn State (2012, 2014)
• Two-time Dan Hodge Trophy recipient, as nation’s best college wrestler (2012, 2014)
Still, Foster is undeterred. He won't back down from a challenge. He hopes to make Team USA, and to do so he will have to get through Taylor. He has a chance to make an early statement as he begins his freestyle career.
"He's good and he's proven it," Foster said of Taylor. "I'm just going to go out and wrestle. I don't get nervous about big matches. I am just going to go out and represent what we have going on here at UNI. Right now it's a transition for me. I haven't really wrestled freestyle since high school, but a lot of the things I do transition well to freestyle."
Foster said he has been working out in the UNI wrestling room in Cedar Falls with the coaching staff, among others. Foster is not intimidated by Taylor's impressive résumé.
"He's definitely somebody I watched and looked up to when I was in middle school and high school," Foster said. "He weighs the same as me, so I'm not too worked up about it. I know what he's done, but I also know what I'm capable of doing it."
While in New York City, Foster hopes to see some of the sights during down time.
"I definitely want to see the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial. Hopefully I can get over to see Wall Street, too," Foster said. "We get to wrestle at Madison Square Garden, so that will be cool to see that. I just need to make sure I keep my legs fresh, not get too tired out and just enjoy the whole experience."