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When Perrysburg junior Mark Delas was asked recently if he had any hobbies beyond school and the three sports he competes in, the answer was no big surprise.
“Not really,” Delas said. “Playing sports is pretty much what I do.”
After his school work and the sports commitments, Delas doesn’t typically have a lot of down time.
The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder excels at football, wrestling, and baseball and has a chance to earn All-Northern Lakes League first-team honors in each sport this school year.
Which sport does he prefer?
“I like them all,” Delas said. “I have great coaches in all three sports, so it’s hard to pick. I can’t really pick a favorite. I haven’t decided yet. I’ve had some [college] interest for football and baseball, so it’s still up for debate.”
Delas is currently playing baseball. He plays third base, pitches, and occasionally fills in at catcher. Although he is adept at all three, it is at the plate where he truly stands out.
Through 15 games for the 14-1 Yellow Jackets, who are in first place at 5-0 in the NLL and ranked No. 5 in the Division I state coaches poll, Delas is batting a team-best .449 (22 for 49) with a home run and 15 RBIs.
“I like to hit,” Delas said. “My dad [Mick Delas] played professional baseball, and he taught me everything he knows. The coaching at Perrysburg is excellent, and I just love the game. I like the atmosphere with the guys the most.”
On the mound, Delas is 4-0 with a 2.07 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.
In a doubleheader victory over Archbold, Delas went 6 for 8 with 10 RBIs. Earlier, he had become the first player to hit a home run at Perrysburg’s new Leyland Family Field, a 420-foot blast in coach Dave Hall’s estimation.
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“Mark’s just a good hitter,” Hall said. “He hits for average, he hits for power, and hits the ball as hard as any kid I’ve had.”
As a freshman, Delas was added to the varsity roster for tournament play after spending much of the season with the junior varsity.
He had pinch-hit doubles in the seventh innings of the Division I state semifinal and final, the first with Perrysburg trailing Willoughby South 3-1. His 400-foot ground-rule double over the fence in center field helped the Jackets rally to a 4-3 walkoff win.
Last fall, Delas helped the Perrysburg football team to an 8-3 record (6-1 in NLL) and a berth in the D-I state playoffs. As a running back, he had 101 carries for 883 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in the regular season, plus added 56 tackles as a linebacker.
In Perrysburg’s regular-season finale against Maumee, Delas shook off a leg injury during the game to rush 22 times for 208 yards and four touchdowns, plus added a fifth TD on a fumble return in a 55-26 victory.
“That was fun,” Delas said. “We all came to play that night. The coaches just kept giving me the ball, and I followed my linemen.”
Perrysburg football coach Matt Kregel applauds Delas’ three-sport commitment.
“I come from an era when everybody wanted to play three sports,” Kregel said. “For Mark to be as good as he is at three, I think it’s great for the school, and it’s great to see a kid push himself and do that. I wish everybody tried to play three sports.
“Wrestling this year was tremendous for him, because he lost a little body fat, and it put him in one-on-one combat kind of situations where he had to fight his way through. That has helped him with baseball and will help him with football.”
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Delas was invited to join the school’s wrestling team by coach Sam Cotterman, who is also a football assistant coach.
Having not wrestled since junior high, Delas took a while to get reacquainted with the sport. By season’s end, he had posted a respectable 22-12 record at 220 pounds, won an NLL championship, and took fifth in the D-I district, just one place shy of qualifying for the state tournament.
Delas dropped 20 pounds from his football weight of 230 while training wrestle at 220, then had to put some weight back on.
“I was surprised,” he said of his wrestling success. “I was a little rusty coming back. Coach Cotterman showed me how to do some things, and he said I was going to be good. I said, ‘I hope so.’ I took it all in, and things worked out.”
Some coaches prefer their athletes not try to overextend themselves with three sports. Not Dave Hall.
“With Mark wrestling, he was in incredible shape,” Hall said. “He walked in and the first day [in practice] he swung a bat it was like, ‘Holy cow.’
“I’m old school. I played three sports, although it was much easier in those days. And, my son played three. I think you get refreshed. I don’t think you get burned out.
“Mark can swing a bat for two days and be one of the better hitters in Ohio. He didn’t have to be swinging a bat in December and January and February to be able to swing it well in March, April, and May.”
Although Delas works hard at all three sports, he also got some help from his gene pool.
His father, who played baseball and football in high school, starred in baseball at Eastern Michigan. He was selected in the 12th round of the 1988 major league draft by the Detroit Tigers after leading the Mid-American Conference in home runs (17) and RBIs (65) in his junior year.
The elder Delas spent two-plus seasons in the Tigers’ minor league system as a catcher before a hard collision at the plate caused a minor neck injury. By the time Delas was able to return to action, Detroit had added two more catchers to the farm system, and he was eventually released.
While at Eastern Michigan, Mick Delas met Lisa Hicks, a Lake High School graduate and member of the EMU women’s basketball team. Hicks had also played volleyball and softball at Lake.
The couple married and now have three children.
Mark’s older sister, Nicole, played basketball for Perrysburg, and younger brother Grant is an eighth-grader who also competes in football, wrestling, and baseball.
“We started out really young with the basics,” Mick Delas said. “His coaches have worked really hard with him and the other players.”
The balanced Jackets have gotten hitting help from Nick Fleming (.441), Kyle Durham (.412), Gus Dimmerling (.405), Steve Slocum (.385), Austin Lee (.340), and Nick Munger (.321). On the mound, Munger is 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA, and Stockwell (2-0, 0.91) and Bennett Westfall (2-0, 3.15) have also been solid.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.