After a four-year hiatus from wrestling, Sacramento State senior Tony Delgado has reached nationals and is aspiring to achieve more in his second year with the club.
Delgado, 23, discovered the team during his first semester orientation. By the time he joined the club, however, the wrestling season was already underway. Three tournaments later, Delgado qualified for nationals after placing third in the West Coast conference tournament.
“It was only my fourth competition of the year,” Delgado said. “I was new to it and and still getting used to the college level.”
Delgado, who wrestles in the 165-pound weight class, was humbled by his trip to Orlando, Florida, last spring for the National College Wrestling Association tournament.
“It was eye-opening to see (that) there’s a lot of good wrestlers out there from the East Coast,” Delgado said.
With a full season of preparation this year, Delgado’s goal is to qualify for nationals for the second time and finish in the top eight, which would make him a 165-pound All-American finisher in his weight class.
Delgado’s commitment to improve has not gone unnoticed by his teammates or coach Caleb Mack, who is in his second year of coaching the Sac State wrestling club.
“After making nationals last year, he spent three days a week with me in the gym over summer,” Mack said. “He’s driven to meet his goal.”
Wrestling club president Teddy Anderson went a step further and described Delgado as one of the most dedicated wrestlers he’s ever seen on the mat.
“If there’s something that you are doing that’s not going to benefit him in his competition, there’s less of a chance he’s going to want to partake in it,” Anderson said. “If there is a tie to wrestling to it, he is for sure in.”
Although wrestling is more of an individual sport, Delgado focuses on team success during practice in order to prepare for tournaments.
“He’s very quick to tell other guys that they need to get to practice,” Mack said. “He’s taken some athletes under his wing and really helped them improve on their moves. He really wants to take a group of guys to nationals, not just himself.”
NCWA Nationals take place on March 10 in Kissimmee, Florida. The Sac State wrestling club hopes to bring more than just the two wrestlers who qualified for the tournament last year.
“The whole focus of our club is to bring at least seven wrestlers to nationals,” Anderson said after placing fourth at 184-pounds during the conference tournament last season. “There’s 10 weight classes and getting 70 percent of our team there is definitely an achievable goal for us.”
Mack mentions that he’s not only impressed with Delgado and Anderson, but in the entire team’s growth during his time as head coach.
“It’s kind of a weird situation at Sac State in the sense that no one is recruited here to come wrestle,” Mack said. “Everyone came to get their education here and found wrestling after the fact.”
The wrestling club, which became an official sporting club on campus in 2011, has come a long way since nearly folding two years ago due to a lack of members.
“I have been part of teams that are more about certain individuals,” Mack said. “But this group of men and women really feel like a team and are really supportive of one another.”
Delgado, who attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Sacramento City College before attending Sac State, looks forward to continuing this trend during the first tournament of the season at San Francisco State on Nov. 6.