Buckeye Local grad takes wrestling talents to Arizona State
WHEELING — The sport of wrestling has allowed Jess Battilochi to travel to different parts of the world during her days as an athletic trainer at Wheeling University. She has been to: Beijing, China; Panama City, Panama; and Klippan, Sweden.
However, all of those journeys were roundtrips. Her next trip will be a one-way shot.
The 2009 Buckeye Local graduate recently accepted an assistant trainer’s position with the wrestling program at Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. Her last day at WU will be Tuesday.
“This is truly my dream job. I was notified last Tuesday, and I’m still in shock,” Battilochi said Monday night. “I saw the job posting and applied. I went through three Zoom interviews with various members of the athletic department and wrestling program. Then, I received notification that they had hired me.”
Battilochi has been working at Wheeling University for the past three-plus years. In addition to the wrestling program, she also has worked with the women’s soccer, rugby and softball programs.
“I would like to thank everyone that has helped me reach this point in my career. I grew up in the Ohio Valley and am proud to say that,” she said. “I want to thank everyone that has supported me from my family, friends, teams and coaches. I would especially like to thank my mom, Debbie, and my boyfriend, Ryan Lewicki, for all of their love and support.
“I’m very excited to begin this next step in my career, and I hope to make everyone in the Ohio Valley proud of me.”
While at Wheeling University, Battilochi was part of the 2019 NCAA Division II national runner-up squad that produced the Cardinals’ second and third national champions in Tyler Warner and Connor Craig at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland. Terrance Fanning became the first Cardinal to win a national title a year earlier.
“That was an exciting time,” Battilochi said regarding the Division II nationals. “It was really fun.”
Battilochi will be the second Ohio Valley native to be associated with the Sun Devils mat program — the other being legendary head coach Bobby Douglas. While at ASU, Douglas led the Sun Devils to an NCAA team title in 1988. In 1999, he was inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame.
“Being from the Ohio Valley, I’ve heard of Bobby Douglas, but I’ve never had the chance to meet him,” Battilochi said.
The Sun Devils current head coach is Zeke Jones, a former disciple of Douglas in Tempe. Jones signed with the Sun Devils in 1985. He compiled a 139-21 record and garnered three All-American honors at the NCAA’s, three Pac-10 championships, Midlands Title and was the NCAA finalist his senior year.
Arizona State is coming off a banner year in which it won the PAC-12 championship for the program’s 21st all-time conference title in early March at Stanford. The Sun Devils had five conference titlists, including 197-pound Kordell Norfleet, who was named the tournament’s co-Most Outstanding Wrestler.
The Sun Devils were 15-2 in dual meets a year ago. Included in that win total was a victory over No. 1 Penn State, the program’s first over the Nittany Lions. It snapped a 60-match win streak by PSU and came before a record-breaking crowd of 8,522. The upset vaulted ASU to fourth in the NWCA Coaches poll, the highest ranking since 1998.
Arizona State also became the first school to host a collegiate match at a Major League Baseball stadium. It also honored Douglas that night at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Battilochi received her masters in athletic training from Ohio University in 2014. She has worked at Crooksville High School, St. Clairsville High School, Trinity Health Systems — Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, and Edison High School.