When Jake Taylor decided it was time to look at colleges, he approached it like he does everything else.
“Jake goes all out with everything he does,” said his father Doug Taylor. “He put a pin on a map within a certain radius of home and got to work, figuring out all the options. Cornell stood out right away. It’s a fantastic educational institution and the wrestling speaks for itself. It turned out to be a pretty easy decision.”
That’s saying something for Taylor. While he looked at Harvard, Lehigh, Virginia and Virginia Tech, he gave very strong consideration to West Virginia, a school that has been a part of his family for much of his life.
Jake’s father Doug was an All-American for the Mountaineers. Two of his uncles also competed for the squad and his older brother Nicholas is a member of the West Virginia team now.
“I feel like Cornell is the right place for me,” Jake Taylor said. “I like the coaches and what they’re doing with the program. I love the area. I’ve been impressed with how the guys perform in the postseason. You can’t beat the mix of academics and wrestling and I know that there’s life after wrestling, so education is very important.”
Indeed, the academic component was key for Taylor, who according to his father “has never gotten anything other than an ‘A’ in high school” and has aspirations of being a dentist.
“24 guys have gone on to become doctors and dentists under [Cornell head coach] Rob Koll and that’s something that was very appealing,” Doug Taylor said.
The Big Red’s wrestling success was appealing as well. Taylor, Intermat’s #50 recruit nationally, will fit right in. After compiling a 33-3 record in his sophomore campaign for Bald Eagle Area High School in Pennsylvania, Taylor began his junior season with a fourth place showing at the ultra-competitive Super 32 tournament in North Carolina at 170 pounds. He followed with a 38-2 mark during the high school campaign, taking third at the state championships.
Taylor kept the momentum going in the spring and summer, winning the FloNationals title at 170 pounds, besting a field of nearly 40 grapplers. That championship run included an overtime victory over Zach Nevills, a California state champion (and four-time Golden State placer) now at Stanford. For good measure, Taylor also defeated some highly touted foes at the Disney Duals while wrestling for Team Young Guns, including nationally-ranked Brett Harner of Norristown Area High.
With his college decision made, Taylor is focused on winning his first state title. He said he will likely wrestle at 182 pounds. (He is currently ranked sixth nationally at that weight).
“States are always important and I didn’t quite do as well as I hoped last year,” Jake Taylor said. “I’m focused on winning this year. I’ve wanted to be on top of that podium since elementary school and it would mean a lot to finish that way.”
And when that’s over, he is looking forward to beginning the next step in Ithaca, at a weight that will be defined later.
“One of the first things every coach we visited said to Jake was, ‘wow, you’re tall’,” Doug Taylor said. “I was recruited as a 126 pounder and wound up at 158, so it’s hard to say where Jake will be. He may start at 174 but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up at 184 or even higher.”
Wherever he ends up, he’s excited to be joining the Big Red.
“I’ve liked watching the Cornell wrestlers on TV the last few years – obviously Kyle Dake, Mack Lewnes, Cam Simaz and a lot of others,” Jake Taylor said. “They wrestled well when it counted. I can’t wait to be a part of it and see where I stand.”