Jesse Delgado became the first Gilroy High wrestling alumnus in history to garner All-American status after placing seventh at the NCAA National Championships in St. Louis over the weekend.
Delgado, a 2009 Gilroy graduate, defeated Steve Bonanno of Hofstra in the seventh/eighth-place match, 3-1, to cap his first appearance at nationals with a 4-2 record.
He assessed the newfound success with a typical Delgado-esque response – always grateful yet rarely satisfied.
“I mean, I guess it’s good that I am an All-American as a freshman, but the goal for sure was a national championship,” the University of Illinois redshirt freshman said.
The three-day tournament began with Delgado, the fourth-seeded 125-pounder, beating Jerome Robinson of Old Dominion University by decision, 6-1. He then pinned Camden Eppert (Purdue) at the 5 minute, 12 second mark of the third period to advance into the quarterfinals, where Delgado suffered his first loss of the tournament – barely.
Facing No. 5 Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent State), a late escape and takedown sent Delgado to an 8-5 loss in triple overtime.
Needing a victory to get into the medal round, Delgado encountered No. 3 Alan Waters of Missouri and outlasted him 5-2. After a narrow 4-3 defeat to Stanford’s Ryan Mango (the Pac-12 125-pound champion), Delgado closed out the tourney on a positive note with his win against Bonanno.
“People build up the tournament, but I wasn’t overwhelmed,” Delgado said.
Delgado concluded his freshman campaign with Illinois with a 34-8 overall record, including a third place finish at the Big 10 tournament for the No. 5-ranked Illini.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the way the season ended, but glad I was able to experience all of it with my coaches, teammates and family.”
While with the Mustangs, Delgado was a four-time Central Coast Section champion, four-time state medalist and the 2009 state champion.
• Another GHS alum, Dominic Kastl, also wrestled in St. Louis. The 2012 Pac-12 167-pound champion finished his national tournament with a 2-2 record. Kastl, who wrestled his senior year for GHS, was a four-time CCS champion in high school – three of those coming at St. Francis. At the Pac-12 Championships last month, Kastl (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) won by an 8-1 decision over Bret Baumbach of Stanford for the conference title.