The Times West Virginian

March 6, 2014

Elliott, Delligatti share state championship win with their fathers

By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — As human beings, we love to share special moments with those we are closest to.

For Ryan Elliott and Vincent Delligatti, that moment was winning the state championship, something they were both able to accomplish with their father as a coach on their wrestling team.

Ryan, a senior at North Marion, won his second state championship in as many years this past Saturday with a 10-1 victory over Jacob Monn of Ritchie County. His father, Rusty, had seen him win last season, but this season he had a different seat. This one was closer to the action.

“Obviously last year when he won it, I was sitting in the stands. From a distance, you can't really tell what's going on, and you can’t show how much love you have for him or how proud of him you are,” Rusty said. “But sitting right there, two feet from him when he wins it, it's a whole different perspective. You're there with every move and twist and turn of the match, and you’re coaching. Being part of that was just very, very special.”

With the victory, Ryan became just the third wrestler in school history to win multiple state championships, a feat that his dad said hasn’t truly sunk in yet.

“There have been some great wrestlers from here. North Marion has had a great program,” he explained. “It probably won’t sink in until years from now.”

For Ryan, the moment was one he will always cherish. Earlier in the season, both Ryan and Rusty admitted that they didn’t know how they would react or how they would share the moment together. Now, just days after the state tournament, there still aren’t words to describe it, only feelings, Ryan said.

“It was real emotional. It was filled with joy and over-excitement,” the 120-pound grappler said, searching for the words. “It was just a happy moment.”

As for Rusty, the word of choice was “special.”

“A father and a son have a close relationship anyway, but to be that much closer in competition just makes it special,” he said.

The instance wasn’t just shared between Ryan and his father, but with at least 25 other blood relatives, including his brother, Kyle.

Kyle, a freshman wrestler at the 132-pound weight class, placed sixth at the state tournament, and while Ryan couldn’t find many words to describe his own win, he had plenty to say about his brother’s first go-round.

“That was awesome, too. He really came out of his shell during the state tournament and really wrestled good,” Ryan said of his younger brother’s performance. “He was wrestling a lot of older kids that had been there before and that were really good. To place sixth in that weight class is really good.”

As a senior, Ryan’s high school wrestling career is over, but his legacy has been engrained into the record books of state, and North Marion, history. But for him, he isn’t passing along two state championship victories. He’s passing along the hard work and dedication it took to get those wins. He passes it along to younger teammates like his brother and Austin Stanley, who placed second at the state tournament. Rusty said that’s what makes him so proud.

“The things that he’s done, it makes me so proud. Marion County’s not big enough to hold my heart that goes out for him and all of the hard work that he’s done,” Rusty said of Ryan. “All those things you want to do as a wrestler, you don’t want to leave any stone unturned. And he didn’t. That’s what makes it so special, as a father, to see that hard work pay off.”

Later the same day, Fairmont Senior’s Vincent Delligatti closed out his senior season with his father, Mark, watching closely from the sidelines. The end result, a 2-1 victory over Zane Weese from Herbert Hoover, gave the 220-pound wrestler his first state championship.

“I just remember 10 years ago, my cousin Matt won state,” he said, “and from that moment on I’ve wanted to do it, too.”

Mark, who also has a state championship under his belt, said the goal had been one that Vincent had worked toward very intensely.

“Vincent, throughout his whole wrestling career, was very self-motivated. He set goals when he was a real little kid that he wanted to achieve and he’d ask me what he had to do to get to that point,” Mark recalled. “I told him to do something every day to make yourself better, and that’s the motto he’s used throughout his wrestling career.”

Vincent, who has only missed attending one state tournament in his lifetime, said that being with his dad in Huntington helped fuel his dream.

“I’ve been around this sport for a long time. He's been coaching wrestling for a long time. The year i was born, actually, was his first year as head coach here,” Vincent remembered. “It really made me want to do it. It made me want to win it even more. Those matches are so intense and to see them win it made me want to do it, too. I’m glad it worked out.”

From a young age, being around wrestling that much intrigued Vincent. His father remembers signing up for wrestling websites and magazines for his son to familiarize himself with. It really took hold, he said.

“When I was in school, we didn’t have YouTube videos or pro wrestling websites. We spent a lot of time going to camps in the summer time and getting as much information about wrestling as we could,” Mark said. “Now these guys can get online and pick up a bunch of information to make themselves better. And as a wrestler, and a coach, it's better that we have those things out there.

“Vincent exhausted pro wrestling websites that we provide for him and he'd say, ‘Hey, dad, this is what I learned on the computer today,’ and he’d try to get me all wrapped up in the family room. It made him better.”

Being a student of the sport, Vincent passed his knowledge along to the rest of his teammates.

Fairmont Senior eventually finished the weekend with three state champions, one of which was Brent Barber, Vincent’s workout partner. Mark said that the two would go at it like bulls at practice, making them both better in the process.

After coming up short last season, Vincent taking third place at the state tournament, the motivation was self-inflicted for the senior, Mark said. Working with Barber, making him better, just helped the process along and, in turn, gave the Polar Bears an extra trophy.

Vincent, though, said the moment shared with his father, and his teammates, finished off his senior season the way he wanted it to.

“It was special,” he said. “It meant a lot to me.”

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.