Identify Illinois Spotlight

Identify Illinois is the DIA-branch of Inclusive Illinois, an organization dedicated to the University's commitment to cultivating a community at Illinois where everyone is welcomed, celebrated, and respected. Through education, engagement, and excellence, each voice creates the Inclusive Illinois Experience.

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Jesse Delgado

Year: Senior

Hometown: Gilroy, California - Attended Gilroy High School

 Two-time NCAA National Champion (125 lbs.)
 Two-time Big Ten Champion (125 lbs.)
 Three-time All-American
 2013 Big Ten Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships
 Has a 91-13 overall win-loss record (30-2 last season) at Illinois


Q: You have won back-to-back National Championships and enter this season ranked No. 1 in your weight class (125-lbs.). With all the success you've had, what will your goals for this season be?

A: To reach my full potential, whatever that may be. If I can just focus on doing that, I'm pretty confident I can win (again) in March. It's a long, mentally and physically, taxing season being in the Big Ten, but ultimately, it comes down to winning five matches in March.

Q: You grew up in California. What made you decide to commit to Illinois?

A: I have really good chemistry with my coaches. I'm really close with them. When Jeremy and I are both focused, we come up with the best strategies and game plans in the country. I'm also very close with Mark, and he's been my mentor. I have taken every word he says to heart, since I was a senior in high school.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being an Illini wrestler?

A: I love my friends and teammates. The wrestling community is a different environment from most sports on campus, and most of us have been doing this since we were five years old; working with our dads. Our team can relate to each other in so many ways. From inside jokes about kids tournaments growing up to missing holidays because we are training. It's a really special bond we get to share.

Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

A: I have a brother who is a freshman in high school and a two-year old sister. My brother wrestles for his high school team competitively, and my sister plays kitchen, for fun.

Q: You recently participated in a public service announcement (which will air publically on Dad's Weekend) on the U of I campus that called for your U of I peers to help end sexual assault. How did that opportunity come about, and why did you decide to participate?

A: It was a pretty cool thing that I got to do with a lot of our athletes around campus to raise awareness about an issue that is a problem on college campuses across the country.

Q: What are your plans for life after Illinois?

A: I plan on sticking around to coach, and hopefully help the team to a title at the national tournament.

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