NCAA Wrestling: Delgado named Fighting Illini Athlete of the Year


Champaign, Illinois—It’s been quite a year for Jesse Delgado.
The Gilroy High alum, now wrestling for the University of Illinois, was crowned the 2014 NCAA champion at 125 lbs., successfully defending the title he won in 2013. He bested the No. 2 seed, Nahshon Garrett of Cornell, 3-2 in the finals. Delgado’s accomplishment makes him the first Fighting Illini wrestler to win back-to-back titles in 56 years which earned him the University of Illinois Divison of Intercollegiate Athletics Male Athlete of the Year Award—also known as the Dike Eddleman Award—on June 19. The honor is based on a vote by Illini head coaches and athletic administrators.
Delgado is the eighth wrestler to win this award and the first since 2003.
“This is a prestigious award for me to win as an individual, but it is way more important to the program as a whole on so many levels,” Delgado told Illinois Sports Information. “…Wrestling is unique and it’s great that our sport is considered to have one of the university’s top athletes. No one is more important than the team as a whole. So I’d say, in a way, our whole team really is being recognized for this award. I love my team, coaches and the entire staff. I wouldn’t be as successful as I have been without them.”
Delgado was a standout wrestler during his time with the Mustangs, winning a California Interscholastic Federation state title in 2009 in addition to placing in the Top 5 his freshman, sophomore and senior years. He is also a four-time Central Coast Section champion.
The Illini wrestler boasts a 30-2 record for his junior year with a .938 win percentage which ranks seventh in UofI history. He led the team with 80 dual points and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the Grapple at the Garden tournament held in December at Madison Square Garden.
Winning the Fighting Illini Athlete of the Year honor also puts Delgado in the running for the Big Ten Athlete of the Year award which will be announced later this month.