Dellavecchia, Photo by BV
After taking fourth as a sophomore at the state tournament to cap off a 44-3 season, East Islip’s Jesse Dellavecchia had high expectations for his junior campaign, where he expected to be at 113 pounds.
That is, until he didn’t get the “pinch” he expected and wound up with a certification at 120.
“There was snow the day of the recertifications, so we weren’t allowed to recertify," he said. "I wasn’t a developed 120 pounder – I only weighed about 122 pounds. It broke me a little at the beginning of the season – I had big goals and wasn’t sure what would happen at 120. My coach told me it would be fine and I got to work. I started lifting and just wrestling as hard as I could. I couldn’t go back in time so I needed to make the best of it.”
He did, going 20-2 to open the campaign with 18 bonus point victories.
Then came the Eastern States Classic, a tournament that was loaded at 120 pounds. Dellavecchia eased through his first few bouts before losing to eventual Division 2 state champ Bryan Lantry of Wayne in the quarterfinals. However, he then roared back in the wrestlebacks with consecutive wins over 2013 All-Stater Dylan Booth and two-time NYS finalist Luis Weierbach before getting revenge against Lantry to grab third place.
“I felt like I had a pretty good tournament at Eastern States and after that I felt like I was capable of winning the state,” he said.
To do that, he’d have to navigate a stacked weight at the Section 11 tournament that included now-national #1 Nick Piccininni of Ward Melville.
In the semifinals, Dellavecchia had a rematch with Shoreham-Wading River’s James Szymanski (who had beaten him earlier in the year), in a bout that had significance Dellavecchia said he wasn’t aware of at the time. Dellavecchia came out on top, 6-1, and earned an at large spot in Albany, while Szymanski didn’t get a bid.
“I really didn’t know how big that match was,” he said. “I just wrestled without any pressure. I felt like we’d both be going to states anyway. I’m really good friends with James and it stinks to have to wrestle each other in that situation. When I found out he didn’t get a wildcard, I was really upset. He could have placed in the top four in the state too.”
So Dellavecchia advanced to Albany, where he outscored his first three foes 32-2 on the way to his third meeting with Piccininni of the year. The state finals was the closest one yet, a 3-0 decision that gave Piccininni his third consecutive undefeated state championship campaign.
Still, Dellavecchia, who didn’t even expect to be at 120 pounds in the preseason, earned a NYS silver.
“I wasn’t as nervous since I had experience at the state tournament already,” he said. “I felt like I had nothing to lose – just have fun out there. Nick is a really tough opponent. I went all out every time we wrestled and I think I closed the gap a little more each time – I started to get used to his moves and that made the scores closer. I definitely felt like I had a good year – I didn’t have to cut weight, which I enjoyed. But I’m obviously not satisfied with taking second.”
Even so, Dellavecchia said his tournament run at the Times Union Center was probably the most memorable of his career. But he’s had plenty of other highlights, including a fifth place showing at the FloNationals in 2014 and a seven-win performance for Team New York Kong at the Disney Duals this past summer.
Those results helped get the attention of college coaches, and on Wednesday night, Dellavecchia informed New York Wrestling News that he committed to Binghamton as a 133 or 141 pounder, after also considering Hofstra, NC State and Maryland.
“I really liked the school and the campus when I visited – the coaches are awesome. I think I could do big things under them,” he said. “I also felt like I really fit in with the whole team. There are a bunch of guys from Long Island and I also know some of the guys from the Disney Duals. It’s a really good school academically and hopefully it will help me get a job after college, which is the most important thing.”
For now, however, one of the most important things to Dellavecchia is standing on the top of the podium in the state capital.
“I’ve been working on getting better on my feet – getting in and finishing my shots faster,” he said. “That was one of my problems in the past. I’m also becoming more relentless; always putting on forward pressure. I’m also working out, trying to continue to get bigger and stronger.”
Dellavecchia, who is registered for the Super 32 Challenge in a few weeks at 132 pounds, said he’ll either be there or at 126 for his final high school season.
“I’m looking to place high at Super 32 and I really think I can win it,” he said. “This year I want to win a state title and be a national finalist.”
Jesse Dellavecchia said many coaches have helped him improve over the past five years, including: Guy Leggio, Mike Longobardi, Mike Patrovich, Ryan Patrovich and Vougar Oroudjov