Jay Aiello: Cultivated By Culture

@aiello_jay: Cultivated By Culture #wrestling @uvawrestling

Jay Aiello was named first team All-American for the 2020 season out of Virgina. He wrestles at 197 and ended up 27-4 on the season. Aiello comes back for his senior season next year and looks to have the opportunity to compete in the tournament next year after having the opportunity taken from him due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

Aiello is happy to be named All-American. While he wishes he could have competed in the tournament, he is still happy being bestowed the honor. He likes how the sport of wrestling has the man-to-man aspect to it. He likes being able to prove he is the best on the mat at any given time.

“The cool thing about wrestling is that it’s one of the sports where you truly go out and earn your All-American status whereas all the other sports like you’re just being voted on and just picked. Wrestling is different, you’re like truly beating other guys. It’s showing and proving me wrong. It’s definitely a cool thing to have under the belts just because all the work I put in for it, but just wish it would come a different way.”

Unfortunately, Jay Aiello didn’t get to see if he was truly the best 97’er this season. While he was disappointed he didn’t get to compete, it was his senior teammates losing their last opportunities to compete and say goodbye the sport to which they dedicated themselves.

“It was surreal for me mostly. My best friend is Jack Mueller, and just seeing how disappointed he was and knowing that this was his last shot and that he had it taken away from him so close really, really hit me hard. It was hard for him. And then in terms of myself, like, I feel like I was wrestling the best I had in my life headed to Nationals and I was really excited to see what I could do. But you know, it just wasn’t wasn’t meant to be.”

Jay Aiello Benefitting From UVA Culture

The University of Virgina has put out some great talent in recent years. Just last year they had Aiello, Jack Mueller, and Denton Spencer in their lineup. Virginia has built up a culture that not only looks after their athletes, but looks after their young men as well.

“We have great leadership, primarily Coach Steve Garland. The staff is just great men who are not only care about our wrestling ability, but just care about us becoming good men. So that’s the number one thing that definitely sticks out about our program. It’s just the family atmosphere, I would say.”

Jay Aiello has spent a lot of time at his coaches house. The coaches pay special attention to their wrestlers. He recalls the special attention his teammates have received from Coach Garland and the rest of the Virginia staff. This attention has instilled the same attitude in the wrestlers as well. Aiello and the rest of his team look to each other to hold themselves accountable.

“So for me, I’ve been in Charlottesville for pretty much the full time for the quarantine in our coache’s house, hanging out kids hanging out with his family. And I don’t think there’s another program in having their athletes over as much as I am at his house. Coaches are calling up guys on the team, making sure they’re doing all right, making sure they’re getting their workouts in. But, mostly they’re just being supportive. And the leadership part is really awesome too. And then I know with with Jack, me and him, a big thing is just pushing each other just off the mat, on the mat. Like, if one of us sees us getting an extra workout in or like watch a film or working technique, we just hold each other accountable and make sure we’re doing the right things on the weekend. Just making sure we’re giving it our all every single practice. Going home we’re like, ‘Hey, how was your practice today?’ You know, just talking to each other about what we did well, what we didn’t do well.”

Moving on to 2021

After having such a great season, Aiello says there’s no real pressure to repeat what he’s done. Instead, he’s not even thinking about it. He wants to continue to do what he has done well and improve on the mat.

“I look back and I was like 27-4. Three of those losses came in Vegas when I had strep throat and a fever. The season ended and I was looking back and it was a pretty good season. I don’t think there’s any pressure here. I’m okay with who I am and what am I doing. I don’t really have to go out there and prove anything to anyone. So I’m just excited just to get back on the mat.”

His workout routine is tried and true. Running and lifting along with drills is keeping Aiello sharp in the extended off season and keeping him lean and in wrestling shape.

“I’ve been watching film right now. For me, I just try to be lean so I’m lifting and running during the week. I probably run four times a week now and I’m lifting about four or five times. And then I’ll drill techniques in my apartment.”

In college-kid fashion, Jay Aiello has made amazing adjustments to his living situation. With one of his roommates moved out, they put mats down in his room and get mat time in there.

“One of my one of my roommates moved out so we put a mat and weights in his room. It’s a 10×15 room with mats. It’s the best living situation in the country I can think of in the country other than guys that are going into like a full size room. I get together with the guys two or times a week and am like, ‘Hey, what are you watching?’ So right now I am learning technique.But I’m just just focused on controlling what I control right now and trying to get a little better each day.”

The 2021 wrestling season is only a few months away. Virginia is looking to seniors like Jay Aiello and Louie Hayes to continue where they left off in 2020.

Follow Jay Aiello on Twitter and Instagram to follow the rest of his wrestling story!