Top 10 lists are tricky. And obviously a little subjective.
On Tuesday, Jan. 1, the East Oregonian ran a recap of 2012 with our top 10 local sports stories of the year. While fielding a few complaints this week — discussions of who was placed ahead of whom, exclusions and the like — I ran across a glaring omission.
And sorry Pendleton dance folks, you guys do win state titles, but this column isn’t about you. It’s about Joey Delgado.
Delgado capped his high school career, one with a mind-boggling 98.5 winning percentage, by beating Pendleton’s Pyper McCallum 17-4 in the finals of the 138-pound weight class. That match seemed predestined to swing the Bulldog’s way and had been Delgado’s goal since he won title No. 3 the previous year.
You don’t get four-time state champs very often in any state and it goes without saying that the wrestler’s accomplishments were legendary. So the fact that he was left off our list was a considerable oversight.
So, my bad.
A little more on Delgado:
The wrestler enrolled at Oregon State University last fall and started hitting the wrestling room immediately, again as anyone who knows him would expect. His high school days were filled with work outs and ambition for better grappling futures and the college days are little different for the now-former Bulldog.
It’s wake up, work out, some school, some more working out, wrestling practice, repeat for Delgado.
All those long days are ammo in pursuit of a national championship one day, he said. That won’t be this year, as Delgado has had slim-to-none true competition for so far this season.
Oregon State is stacked at 141 pounds, where Delgado lines up right now. Senior captain Mike Mangrum was a Pac-12 champion in 2012 and represents a major blockade for Delgado as far as tournament matches go. But that’s OK, Delgado said. He’s content at getting better in the meantime.
“I’m improving in every position,” said Delgado, who hasn’t been redshirted but still may before the year is through. “That’s what I really need to do if I want to be at the next level, to be successful at the college level.”
Sitting in wait isn’t something Delgado is used to. He was a varsity state champion as a freshman with Hermiston and the competitive itch has him scratching for a shot each week.
But the college wrestling scene is different. You can’t just be the strongest, you’ve also got to be the toughest. And that includes the mental side of the sport.
“I’m so glad I went through the Hermiston program,” he said. “It’s helped me so much, helped me to be mentally tough.”
So when Joey Delgado gets the call — be it later this season or next winter — he’ll be more than ready.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or (541) 966-0839.