Gardiner senior Daniel Del Gallo rewrote the school record books while his brother Peter established a standard for perfection unparalleled by any freshman wrestler from Maine.
Daniel ended a spectacular career as a three-time state champion and a two-time New England finalist. He finished his career with a record of 194-11.
Peter, meanwhile, began his varsity career by going 52-0 and not only won a state title, but also a New England championship. Peter became the first Maine freshman in history to win a New England title.
For their outstanding accomplishments, Daniel and Peter Del Gallo have been named the Kennebec Journal Wrestlers of the Year.
Peter had been highly successful at the middle school level, but was uncertain what wrestling at the high school level would be like.
“I don’t know what I expected,” Peter said said. “I guess I expected it to be tough. My goal was to win the state meet.”
Gardiner coach Matt Hanley had more faith in Peter.
“I knew he would be very, very good,” Hanley said. “I’ve coached him since grade school and knew what he was capable of.”
Peter spent much of the season wrestling at 113-pounds and occasionally at 120-pounds before moving down to the 106-pound class as the postseason approached.
“We tried to get him as many tough matches as possible,” Hanley said.
One of those tough matches came at the Noble Tournament where Del Gallo beat Skowhegan’s Tyler Craig in triple overtime at 113 pounds. Craig would go on to win the Class A state title at 113. His only loss at that weight was to Del Gallo.
Daniel had gone 52-1 as a junior, his only loss in the New England finals, but was even better as a senior, according to Hanley.
“Danny had always been a dominant mat wrestler, but he got much better on his feet between seasons,” Hanley said.
Takedowns became more of a focus for Daniel this season.
“I used to wrestle defensive and wait for the other guy,” Daniel said. “But through experience, I realized that in order to win big matches you have to make things happen. You can’t just wait around.”
Hanley has been around the Gardiner wrestling program since his own high school days in the mid-1970s and says nothing compares to the work ethic shown by Daniel.
“No one at Gardiner ever worked harder at wrestling than Danny,” Hanley said. “Peter has seen what it takes to win at the highest levels by watching Danny.”
Daniel and Peter’s mother Stacy saw the influence Daniel had on Peter.
“I still think Peter would have done well, but it was Daniel that made him understand that there was more to winning than just the state meet and more steps had to be taken in practices and working out,” Stacy said.
While each of the brothers has played other sports while at Gardiner, they devote most of their energy to wrestling. Spring and summers have been filled with trips to tournaments, including events in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts last year. The two estimate that they each had over 40 matches between the end of last season and the beginning of this season.
Daniel will attend the University of Southern Maine in the fall and plans to compete on the USM wrestling team. Peter will have three more seasons to expand on his freshman accomplishments.