Peter and Daniel Del Gallo went to the New England wrestling championships with lofty goals. Peter surpassed his expectations, while Daniel came up just short of his goal.

Peter became the first Maine freshman to win a New England championship when he captured the 106 pound title, while Daniel just missed out on an individual title, losing in the 138-pound championship match.

Daniel had previous experience at New Englands. He competed as a sophomore and finished second as a junior. For Peter, the tournament was an unknown.

“I was nervous and not feeling very confident going into this tournament because I didn’t know what to expect,” Peter said. “As the tournament went on, I was less nervous and more confident that I could do this. I went in with several goals but exceeded them all. I never imagined I would actually win.”

Peter, despite being undefeated during the season, was entered as Maine’s No. 2 seed in his weight class. Top seeds are guaranteed a first-round bye in each of the 22-man brackets. Not having to wrestle in the first round is generally considered beneficial, according to Gardiner coach Matt Hanley.
But Del Gallo found the first-round match to be advantageous. Del Gallo beat the Massachusetts’ sixth seed, Daniel Coughlin of North Andover, Mass., 4-0.

“Having that first-round match helped me get over my nervousness,” he said.

Del Gallo ran off three more wins to make the championship finals. He beat New Hampshire’s top seed, Tyler Fitzpatrick, 5-2, followed by a last-second win over Massachusetts’ Cam Kelly. Trailing 1-0 late in the third period, Del Gallo managed to score a takedown at the buzzer to win 2-1.

Del Gallo beat Massachusetts’ second-seed, Hector Reynoso, 6-0 in the semifinals. In the championship match against Connecticut top-seed, Joseph Rossetti, Del Gallo once again was down by a point late in the third period. Once again, he got a last second takedown to win 3-2 and earn the title.

“He kept fighting and found a way to win,” Hanley said.

Daniel’s road to the finals was far less dramatic than his brother’s. He had a first-round bye and opened the tournament with a 13-1 major decision over Zach Tepper of Connecticut. He then pinned New Hampshire’s Keaton Peterson in the quarterfinals.  Daniel scored a 10-4 decision over Connecticut’s top seed, CJ Luth, in the semifinals to advance to the finals against Massachusetts’ top-seed, Mike Stewart of Dracut.

Daniel’s championship run ended as he scrambled to complete a potentially winning takedown with just seconds left in the third period. Stewart hung on to win a 4-3 decision.

“If there had been another foot of mat surface, Danny would have won,” Hanley said. “Danny got control as time ran out, but it was ruled out of bounds.” 

Stewart ended the season with a 47-0 record.

“It was a tough loss,” Daniel said. “It’s hard to be positive after putting your all into a goal and coming up short. But, that’s part of wrestling.”

Danny joins a small group of Maine wrestlers who made it to the New England championship finals twice during their high school career, a fact not lost on his coach.

“Danny has extremely high goals set for himself,” Hanley said. “It may take him awhile to put the loss in perspective. Being a two-time New England finalist is an incredible accomplishment. Very few Maine kids have ever done that.”

The two brothers accounted for 47 team points, leading Gardiner to a ninth-place finish out of 162 schools.


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