The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Prep Sports

January 19, 2014

COLUMN: Delligatti family builds tourney through years of dedication

FAIRMONT — FAIRMONT— Wrestlers are a different breed of athlete.

No offense to the football and basketball and soccer players out there, but the sport requires a certain toughness and willness to fight through physical and mental adversity that is unparalleled in other competitions.

This much was evident when looking around the Winner’s Choice tournament on Friday and Saturday, where muscular grapplers struggled through three grueling rounds, many limping off to the training table seconds after the final whistle.

Behind the scenes, just slightly removed from the five wrestling mats and the boisterous fans at Woody Williams Armory, the hard work and commitment of those athletes was paralleled — or maybe even eclipsed — by a dedicated team of organizers.

For about 30 years, John Delligatti and his wife Karen have been instrumental in planning and running the yearly tournament that many consider to be one of the most competitive bracketed tournaments in West Virginia.

John Delligatti, the older brother of Fairmont Senior wrestling coach Mark Delligatti, started working on it when he was fresh out of high school. At the time it was just an eight-team tournament called the Pepsi Invitational.

Over the years, the name changed and the event grew, drawing Class AA and AAA teams from Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

“This is a premier tournament in the state,” East Fairmont coach John Geary said. “(John) and his brother put on a great tournament.”

This year more than 30 teams and nearly 400 wrestlers competed. But more impressive than the quantity of wrestlers is the quality of athletes.

“Generally out of the top eight, many of those guys will place in the state tournament in West Virginia. I think last year we had 30 place-winners from Winner’s Choice in the state tournament and about 10 state champions. It’s a big deal,” Mark Delligatti said. “This tournament is noted as being one of the top bracketed tournaments in the state.”

Often times the matches during the two-day event will be some of the same ones wrestling fans will see in the state tournament. Or in some instances, the competition will be even better than what is at the state tournament.

“In some of these weight classes, because you’ve got (Class) AA and AAA together, it could be tougher than what you see at the state tournament,” Mark Delligatti said. “That’s the way we like to see it.”

John and Karen Delligatti’s unwavering devotion to the event is largely to credit. But after more than three decades, the couple is beginning to transition the event over to Mark Carvillano and his wife Tracy.

“I’m just one of those guys who is always there to help,” said Mark Carvillano. “Last year Mark said, ‘Hey my brother needs help.’ So I showed up to help and he said, ‘Thanks; you’re taking over!” And that’s how it was.”

Like a tag-team match from the studio wrestling world, the Winner’s Choice tournament is now the Carvillanos’ beast to tackle.

They have willingly accepted the challenge. Planning began all the way back in October, and plenty of long hours were spent working the brackets to ensure the tournament went off without a hitch.

Still, Mark Carvillano admits that it will take some time to gain the same expertise that the Delligattis racked up over the years.

“He just knows everything about how to run a successful tournament,” Carvillano said. “I’ll have to do it for 10 years to understand everything the way (John) does.”

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

1
Text Only
Prep Sports
  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • EFHS Softball - CB.jpg East can’t overcome No. 7 Lincoln, falls, 4-0

    Thunder clouds weren’t the only thing looming over the East Fairmont (6-6) softball team Monday when the Lady Bees hosed No. 7 Lincoln. Joining the ominous clouds was a sense of urgency for energy that never showed up as Lincoln was able to shut out East Fairmont, 4-0.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • FSHS #20-UHS  #1, 6-TS.jpg Kesling’s bat powers Polar Bears

    When Fairmont Senior’s Johnny Kesling stepped into the batter’s box this past week, it was game over.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • North Marion’s rally falls short

    North Marion had all the pieces in place for a thrilling come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon.
    The four runs in the bottom of the seventh. The tying runner on third and the Huskies’ fastest player on second. Even the clear-blue sky on the mid-70s afternoon was the perfect stage for a comeback.

    April 13, 2014

  • TENNIS RACKET POSED -TS.jpg Giorcellis share important piece of tennis tradition

    You always hear the phrase “pass the torch.”
    When those words come into your mind, you generally think of someone older, wiser and more experienced passing something along to someone younger, the next generation.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • NMHS #19- EHS #5-TS copy.jpg Huskies’ sixth-inning comeback falls short

    It ain’t over till it’s over.
    North Marion (3-4) proved that, despite falling to Elkins, 13-8, during its home opener Thursday night from North Marion High School.
    After falling behind, the Huskies proved that you can still take something away from a late-inning rally despite taking home an “L.”

    April 11, 2014 8 Photos

  • Coaches support WVSSAC ruling

    West Virginia educators took a major step toward extending the summer practice period for high school sports earlier this week.
    The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission board of control voted to extend the current three-week window by five weeks.

    April 11, 2014

  • Larry Conaway remembered at invitational

    Current North Marion runners might not have known Larry Conaway personally, but they are certainly still feeling the impact that the longtime track coach had on the program nearly five years after his passing.

    April 11, 2014

  • FSHS #15- UHS #15 -TS.jpg Hawks deal Polar Bears first loss: PHOTOS

    Fairmont Senior baseball coach Steve Naternicola was at a loss for words Wednesday when asked about his Polar Bears’ 6-3 loss to University High School at Mylan Park.
    “We didn’t ... I don’t know what the problem was today. I just don’t know what to say,” he answered. “All the other games we’ve showed up, and today we just ...”

    April 10, 2014 10 Photos

  • EFHS  #13, 5- RCB #12 -ts.jpg East Fairmont jumps on RCB early: PHOTOS

    Bases loaded. Nobody out.
    Both baseball teams found themselves in exactly the same place in their half of the first inning.

    April 9, 2014 6 Photos

Featured Ads
Prep Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos