To say George Wilfong has been around the wrestling world in the Puyallup valley for a while would be an understatement.
Wilfong, who was the head coach of the Puyallup Vikings from 1968-95, was honored prior to the final regular season home match on Wednesday against the Emerald Ridge Jaguars.
Emerald Ridge head coach Jim Meyerhoff informed the crowd that Wilfong will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame this May in Stillwater, Okla.
Following his retirement in 1995, Wilfong took two years off and returned as a volunteer assistant coach with the Vikings. It’s a position he still possesses.
Ironically, the 78-year-old Wilfong coached both Meyerhoff and current Puyallup head coach Aaron Lee during their high school days. Lee was a senior in Wilfong’s final year as head coach during the 1994-95 season.
“Coach Wilfong is honestly probably one of the reasons why I’m coaching today,” Lee said. “He is an inspiration and has a great work ethic. I love everything that he has stood for over the years. He is such a dedicated individual.”
Wilfong has seen wrestling change significantly since he took over in 1968.
“When we first started, our emphasis on the mat was getting the wrestler down and pinning them,” Wilfong said in an interview with the Herald in 2010. “Now, high school wrestling has much more emphasis on takedowns. It’s a lot harder to pin people, because there are so many great wrestlers. You have to have more offense on your feet.”
In the 45 years since Wilfong became involved with wrestling in Puyallup, the United States has seen nine different presidents go through the oval office.
Wilfong’s longevity is unique. It’s something that should be celebrated. It reminds of me Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak in Major League Baseball.
I’m not surprised Wilfong will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He truly deserves it and epitomizes what it means to be a pillar of a community.
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.