Cake is rarely on the menu for wrestlers — a group known as much for their grappling as their weight cutting techniques — but on Wednesday there was cause for celebration in the Hermiston High athletic office as senior Joey Delgado signed his letter of intent to wrestle collegiately for Oregon State next year.
Sporting an orange-and-black jacket with the letters “OS” emblazoned on the front, Delgado made a few quick pen strokes and committed to the Beavers, currently the 18th-ranked Division I program in the country. A three-time Oregon state champion, Delgado said he was swayed in choosing the school by the tough wrestling coaches that represent the program.
“I always look at my high school coaches and see the way they act, the way they treat me and their attitude — especially their attitude,” he said. He noticed a similarity between Hermiston coach Curt Berger’s intense style and that of the coaching staff at Oregon State led by head coach Jim Zalesky.
Before meeting with coaches, Delgado was considering schools on the east coast as well. Speaking with Zalesky and company changed his mind.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going there,” Delgado said of his initial visit to Corvallis. “I really hate the rain but I didn’t know the coaches yet.”
Another factor that pulled the Bulldog toward the Beavers was the history that Hermiston wrestlers have at the university. Recent graduates Andy Hall and Jeremy and Kyle Larson all wrestled in the Beavers’ orange singlets, as did several coaches at Hermiston including Berger.
Where to spend his college years was a big decision for the 18-year-old to make, but Delgado’s father Joe is happy with the choice the young wrestler made. After having coached his son in wrestling for more than a decade — including a stint as assistant coach for the Bulldogs — it will be nice to watch Joey’s matches without a coaches mindset, he said. And having Joey still close to home means he can continue to watch them regularly.
“I love his choice,” Joe said. “(Oregon State) is an up-and-coming program. And from what we’ve heard of their recruiting class this year, it’s amazing.”
The junior Delgado’s letter comes with a sizeable scholarship to the school, Joe said, which means Joey’s schooling will be all paid for.
“Let’s just say they really took care of him,” Joe said.
Currently at 148 pounds, Delgado said he’ll likely have to shed some weight before donning the Beavers’ colors next fall. He’ll train through the season with Berger and the rest of the Bulldog team before kicking things into a higher gear to prepare for his freshman year.
But before all the intensity starts to set in, he had a slice of cake.