Peter Del Gallo must figure a way to recapture his New England title next season.
That’s not a bad problem to have for a wrestler who just wrapped up his sophomore season.
Del Gallo did capture his second consecutive state championship — moving up a weight class from 106 pounds to 113 pounds — and once again qualified for the New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championships in Providence, R.I. earlier in the month. Del Gallo, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in his weight class from Maine, fell to Connecticut’s No. 1 wrestler, Kyle Lindner, who edged Del Gallo 8-7 in the quarterfinal round. Del Gallo won the New England title last year, the first freshman in state history to accomplish the feat.
For his accomplishments, Del Gallo has been named the Kennebec Journal Wrestler of the Year. Del Gallo shared the award last year with his brother Daniel.
Gardiner head coach Matt Hanley said a lack of quality opponents during the season may have harmed Del Gallo heading into New Englands.
“I would say it was a boring season for him,” Hanley said. “I know that’s a hard word to use. He had some good matches out there. (Many opponents) just aren’t ready for that level yet. It was probably a rough year for him. I think it caught up to him at the end in New Englands.”
The youngest of the Del Gallo wrestling family, Peter is trying to surpass the accomplishments of older brothers Matt, who won three state titles, and Daniel, who also won three state titles. Peter has the opportunity to pass both.
“I’m trying to chase after what they accomplished and take it one step further,” Del Gallo said. “They want me to take it one step further, especially Daniel. He’s always giving me advice and making me work harder.”
The first obstacle Del Gallo had to overcome was losing his workout partner in Daniel, who now wrestles for the University of Southern Maine.
“Danny was the motivator of the workouts,” Hanley said. “We didn’t have a team captain or seniors, so we didn’t have good upperclass leadership. (Peter) was kind of working on that by himself. The toughest adjustment was in the practice room with new practice partners, just how he had to push himself on his own.”
Lightweight wrestlers like Del Gallo are known for speed and quickness. But Hanley added it’s Del Gallo’s ability to think on the mat that aids in his success. Hanley pointed to the championship match Del Gallo wrestled against Skowhegan’s Cooper Holland at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Championship, a match Del Gallo eventually won by pin.
“He wanted to pin (Holland) and he had already scored 13 points, so he knew the next time he was on his back, that was it. He put a move on him, he understood where he was on the mat, how much time was left. He was telling me after that if he ran the move the way he wanted to, they would have went out of bounds. That’s where the creative part comes in. You can see where a move can go and what you can do with a move. He just knows wrestling.”
Hanley also credited Del Gallo with the ability to pick up new moves quickly, pointing to a chicken wing move he explained to Del Gallo during the regular season.
“We talked about it on Wednesday, he said he’d look at it. He used it on Friday night in his match. Without actually going over it on the mat, he’s got the skill set to pull something off that quick.”
“It just instinctively happens now, because I’ve been doing it for so long,” Del Gallo said. “I just try it. Once I learn a new move, I need to try it to see if it works or not.”
Hanley believes the sky is the limit for Del Gallo’s potential, especially with two more years of high school wrestling to go.
“I think he can wrestle in (Division I),” Hanley said. “People are starting to know who he is, what he did at New Englands. But there’s a lot of kids out there.”
Del Gallo will have a chance to redeem his New England loss March 28-30 at the NHSCA National High School Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, VA. Del Gallo said he also plans to wrestle in tournaments during the offseason in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
Del Gallo brushed aside any feelings of nervousness against some of the top competition in the country.
“Whenever you’re in a sport, you’re nervous on the day you have to compete,” Del Gallo said. “I get more motivated, more into it, I get pumped for the bigger tournaments.”
Aside from soccer in the fall, Del Gallo wrestles mostly year-round.
“He’s back in the practice room, helping the junior high team. He’s not going away too far from it at all,” Hanley said.
Hanley said he believes Del Gallo will be back in the state championship picture next year, once again fighting for a New England title.
“He wants to keep building on what we’re doing here,” Hanley said. “I think he’ll be right in the mix again next year. I don’t think he’ll stumble next year.”
Dave Dyer — 621-5639