It was several months ago that a Cornell University insider informed me that they felt extremely confident that they would land the services of 2009 NHSCA Junior National Champion, Billy George…Yesterday, speculation became fact when the Long Branch High School senior verbally committed to wrestle for the Big Red and Head Coach, Rob Koll….The announcement that George would be Ithaca, NY bound further added to the already deep 2010 recruiting class that InterMat recently ranked as #5 following the conclusion of last month’s early signing period.
Prior to yesterday’s breaking news, the list of elite wrestlers already committed to Cornell include the likes of top-100 recruits: Blair Academy’s Chris Villalonga (#3), Central Dauphin’s Marshall Peppelman (#4), and Urbandale’s Evan Knight (#50)…2009 NHSCA Preseason National Champion Ryan Dunphy (Passaic Valley Regional), multiple time National Prep placewinner Jesse Shanaman (Blair Academy), and 2009 PIAA AA State runner-up, Matt Cunningham (Shady Side Academy), have also announced intentions to compete for the Big Red.
Already a two-time District 23 champion heading into last year’s state tournament, George found himself entered into one of the most competitive weight classes in all of the nation, the 189-pound bracket in New Jersey…With nationally known names such as Andrew Campolattano, Mac Mancuso, Jonathan Becker, etc. considered to be his main competition, it may have been slightly disappointing when the Wave wrestler was knocked into the consolation bracket early in the tournament by Pope John’s Russell Jones…..However, as a mark of the true resilience and determination that this talented young man possesses, the loss to Jones would be the only time he tasted defeat that weekend, rallying to win the remainder of his matches and clam the bronze medal, his first career placement at the single class state tournament.
If George was seeking a way in which to make amends for the lack of a state title, he certainly found in Virginia Beach at the 2009 NHSCA Junior National Tournament…Winning six consecutive matches, including a 2-1 overtime decision over returning NHSCA finalist (171-pound Sophomore National runner-up), Andre Petroski in the quarterfinals….Two rounds later, the future Big Red wrestler would put the finishing touches on his national title winning effort, besting Pennsylvania’s Jamie Callender (the 2009 Super-32 Champion @215) by a 5-4 margin in the finals….His title performance was the second time that George earned NHSCA All-American honors; He previously finished 3rd at the Freshmen National tournament.
Projected as 197-pounder on the collegiate level, George should serve as an excellent workout partner for 2009 All-American Cam Simaz, before perhaps emerging as his eventual successor…With Simaz and Assistant Coach, Damion Hahn (2x National Champion), in the room to help cultivate him, there is no doubt that when the times comes, George will be ready to step in and answer the call.
2009 NHSCA Junior National Finals: Billy George (NJ) vs. Jamie Callender (PA)