NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - NPHS senior wrestler Joe Delia not only kept his perfect record intact (21-0), he did it in style, knocking off the top two seeds en route to capture the UCT 170 lb. crown last Saturday. Delia was the third seed and defeated both the No. 2 and 1 seeds in the semifinals and finals, respectively.  

He was third seed despite having the highest previous year's advancement of the top three seeds, said New Providence head wrestling coach Shane Mallory. "The one and two seeds both had wins over wrestlers who had qualified for states the previous year, which placed them ahead of Joe for seeding."

Delia pinned early in the quarters before putting together a perfect performance against a dangerous opponent in Jordan Simpson of Westfield, said Mallory. The coaching staff had seen Simpson at an earlier scrimmage, and in anticipation of this county match-up, they had a plan of attack.  "Joe executed a beautiful game plan shutting down Simpson’s offense and taking him down twice, riding him for a whole period, and earning an escape and penalty point," said Mallory. "After that win, Joe was extremely confident and blitzed Evan Kanterman [of Cranford] early in the first period before securing a fall."  

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Delia is focused and motivated to making it to Atlantic City this year. There is a lingering disappointment of placing 5th in the Regions last year and he wants to prove he belongs among the ranks of the top wrestlers in the state.

Delia is also narrowing on the 100 win milestone with 89 recorded career wins to date.

Comments from Coach Shane Mallory:

"Joe showed a lot of growth mentally in his approach because last year he spent a lot of time worrying about seeds. The seed definitely motivated him and wrestled that day with a chip on his shoulder and eager to prove a point.  When he found out the seeds, I just said, 'you were going to have to beat one of the tougher kids anyway today so why not beat both and show you earned the title.'  Joe's refrain all day was 'this was my tournament' and he exhibited that through his performance.  

I would attribute Joe's great start to the season to a combination of offseason work, Joe having a year with the coaching staff, and building more trust within us, and also his maturity.  

Joe is a product of a combination of offseason wrestling, hard work and trusting his coaching staff and demonstrates what these things can do for an athlete.  Wrestling with our assistant Coach Mase, who is a former Division 2 college wrestler, has also got Joe in tremendous shape and provides a great practice partner. The two have a similar style of wrestling and work well together in the practice room.

Each week throughout the school athletic year, a New Providence Pioneer athlete or athletes will be honored for distinguishing themselves in the arena of competition, in the classroom, and for demonstrating exemplary sportsmanship and leadership qualities. 

For being crowned the UCT champion in the 170 pound weight class and the success of his 21-0 record, Joe Delia is named Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week. 

Below are comments from Joe regarding his past, present and future:

TAPinto: When and how did you get into wrestling?

Joe: I started wrestling in fourth grade. I was at football practice when a couple friends of mine came up to me and asked me if I wanted to wrestle. That day after practice I went home and told my parents that I wanted to try wrestling. And I’ve been wrestling ever since.

TAPinto: How have you grown as a wrestler since coming to NPHS?

Joe: I’ve grown a lot since coming to NPHS, when I first got here I was used to middle school wrestling and wasn’t wrestling at the same pace of some of the kids I was up against so I had to change my work ethic and my style of wrestling to outpace those kids and since the start of my junior year Coach Mallory has been dedicated to helping me achieve my full potential.

TAPinto: Who has had the most influence on you?

Joe: Coach Mallory along with my cousin LJ Castellano (who wrestled for Delbarton and is now wrestling collegiately for Duke) have been the biggest influencers in my wrestling career. Watching LJ wrestle made me want to be the best wrestler that I can be he would eat, breathe, and sleep wrestling and he made me realize that to be successful in this sport you have to be willing to put in the mandatory work and then put in even more work on top of that. Then Coach Mallory has been coaching me since I started wrestling so when I found out that he got the head coaching job last year I was ecstatic because I knew that he would push me to work harder than the next guy to become a better wrestler.

TAPinto: Who has been your toughest opponent so far?

Joe: My toughest opponent so far this year would have to be Jordan Simpson from Westfield.

TAPinto: What is something you focus on when you are in a match?

Joe: When I’m wrestling I try to focus on my opponents movement and his habits so that I can time up the right opportunity to strike.

TAPinto: What advice would you give to younger wrestlers?

Joe: Advice that I would give to young wrestlers is that there is no offseason if you want to be the best you can be you have to go to club and wrestle all year long, the more you are dedicated to this sport and the more time you spend wrestling the better you will be

TAPinto: What are your individual goals for this season?

Joe: I have a long list of goals but I’m only going to highlight my main goal which is to make it down to Atlantic City (States) and prove to everyone that I belong amongst the top wrestlers in the state.

TAPinto: How comfortable are you with your current weight and wrestling at this class?

Joe: I’m pretty comfortable with my weight and wrestling at 170 because I didn’t have to lose much weight to make 170 and I feel confident wrestling at 170.

TAPinto: Do you have a pre-match ritual?

Joe: I’m usually always listening to music or throwing a tennis ball off a wall to clear my mind and keep myself focused on my match.

TAPinto: What is your go to meal before a match? One food that you miss most during the season?

Joe: My go to food on days of matches (when the match is right after school) is I have scrambled eggs and a protein shake for breakfast, a peanut butter/honey sandwich with a protein bar and an orange for lunch and then right after weigh ins 1-2 bagels with cream cheese. My go too food before any tournament or quad when I have to be at the school at like 6 in the morning is a Taylor ham, bacon, egg and cheese on plain bagel (from NP Bagel Cafe) with a peach Snapple for after weigh ins.

The only food that I can't have during wrestling season is junk food, because it makes me sluggish and have less energy, but besides that I really don’t miss out on eating some of my favorite foods, I just would eat like 3/4 of what i usually would.

TAPinto: When you're not wrestling what do you like to do?

Joe: When I’m not wrestling I’m usually doing my schoolwork or hanging out with my friends

TAPinto: What do you enjoy most about NPHS?

Joe: The thing I enjoy most about NPHS is is probably the education, because my parents have always stressed getting a good education and if NPHS wasn’t one of the best public schools for education I would’ve probably went to a private school to get my education.

TAPinto: What subject and teacher do you like the most?

Joe: My favorite school subject is Science and my favorite teacher is Mr. Dougher (my AP Bio teacher)

TAPinto: What will you miss the most about NPHS?

Joe: It’s hard to say what I’m going to miss about NPHS because this is all I’ve known for the past 4 years, but if I had to pick something it would be knowing everyone in the school, I just love knowing everyone and have everyone know who I am.

TAPinto: What are your plans after graduation?

Joe: My plans after graduation are to go to college (either West Virginia or Penn State) and major in criminal justice.

TAPinto: Most Memorable Match? 

Joe: My most memorable match is a tie. The one happened my sophomore year when we were wrestling Scotch Plains and I was losing 12-4 going into the 3rd period and ended up winning the match 13-12, it would be hard to forget this match because I never gave up even though I was down big in the 3rd period. Then my other most memorable match was my finals match in counties against the kid from Cranford because I was pissed off the entire tournament that I was seeded lower than I would’ve liked and I wanted to come in and prove everyone wrong, I wanted to show the entire gym that I was the best wrestler in my weight class in Union County.

TAPinto: How do you maintain drive and focus?

Joe: I maintain my drive and focus by working hard each and every single day and by doing more than the next guy. I have been determined to make it down to Atlantic City and place in States since I started wrestling and that goal has pushed me to work harder than everyone else to accomplish it.

TAPinto: Most Memorable High School Moment?

Joe: My most memorable high school moment would have to when we played Brearley in football for the conference championship. We had just come off of back to back 1-9 seasons and people were writing us off saying that New Providence football was dead, my teammates and I refused to believe that and we used that as fuel to motivate us the entire season and when it came time to play Brearley I knew it was going to a special day from the beginning especially because it was the game we were honoring Lucas. When overtime hit we all remembered what had happened to us last time we played Brearley and lost on a 2 point conversion and we refused to let that happen again and we kicked into our 2nd gear and refused to be denied and then Joey made that unbelievable touchdown catch on 4th down. It was by far the most memorable moment of my high school career so far.

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The Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors located at 64 Main Street in Chatham.  Joe is a 25 year New Providence resident who is an active member of the New Providence community. Contact Joe anytime, whether it's to get started on helping you realize your real estate goals and dreams, or just to ask a question about the local market.  Joe can be reached at jeberle@weichert.com or call 908-868-4800