On the mat or off it, Joe Delgado maintains an even-keel demeanor, rarely getting too high or too low. Case in point: the San Benito High senior has yet to win a title in the Central Coast Section Championships, having finished as the runner-up in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. When asked if the defeats have given him extra motivation to win a section championship this season, Delgado said he would be motivated regardless.
“At the moment, those losses sting pretty bad, but you just have to learn from your mistakes and move forward,” he said. “If you dwell on the past, you’re never going to get better.”
The soft-spoken Delgado is a Gilroy High-transfer; as a result, per transfer rules, Delgado won’t be able to compete in his first match until January. Until then, Delgado will do what he usually does: practice like the Energizer Bunny. Delgado usually runs four to five miles after every practice to build his endurance and stamina.
“I’ll do drills to keep me going through a whole match,” he said. “I want to keep my gas tank full and always going. I’m looking to improve my focus and technique, and work on the moves I’m best at.”
Delgado possesses a fast shot, which allows him to consistently score points via takedowns. Having competed in the 113-pound weight class in his first three years of high school, Delgado will most likely stay at 113 or possibly move up a weight class this season. Whatever happens, Delgado has already made his presence felt inside the San Benito High mat room.
“Joe has been a great addition to our team,” Balers coach Steven Salcedo said in an email to the Free Lance. “He seems to be enjoying himself and getting to know his teammates. His great work ethic is rubbing off on his wrestling partners, as they are learning how to drill at a quicker pace. Joe is very good on his feet and has an awesome single leg (takedown). He has a great attitude and sense of humor. I was told before I met Joe, that he was very quiet and shy, but he and I seem to have hit it off very well as we joke with each other back and forth. He has definitely been a pleasant addition to our team, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals this season which is to win section and state championships.”
Delgado was aiming for those titles last season before he was sidelined halfway through the season.
“Last year I wrestled half the season, and then some stuff went on and I didn’t continue,” he said. “It was personal stuff and a minor setback, but I’m focused on this year and putting the past behind me. I’m pretty excited to get the season started. I just got one extra month (now three weeks) to wait.”
Delgado’s older brother, Jesse, won a CIF state title while prepping at Gilroy High and earning a scholarship to wrestle at the University of Illinois. Joe always looked up to his older brother, and even though the brothers were eight years apart, Joe relished the times they wrestled against each other.
“He helped me with basic drills, technique, endurance, everything,” Joe said. “Getting to drill with him in practice and work out with him and seeing his work ethic, I learned a lot. He had a good mindset and always wanted to be the best in whatever he did.”
In practice, Delgado often goes up against teammates in heavier weight classes, a testament to his dominant skills. Before he goes into every match, Delgado doesn’t think too much—“I just keep it simple,” he said—but he admits it’ll be a little different the next time he faces a Gilroy High wrestler, either in a regular-season tournament or the MBL and CCS Championships.
“It’ll be a little weird going up against Gilroy,” he said. “I grew up with them my whole life, and they’re cool people. But we’re all intense competitors.”
Delgado is an athlete on a mission. He realizes the errors he made in the two CCS title match losses, and he’s determined to not make them again.
“I have to keep my foot on the pedal,” he said. “I remember getting caught and pinned as a sophomore, and I think experience-wise I’ll know what to do the next time I’m in that position.”