Two former local high school wrestlers won their weight classes and helped the University of Southern Maine win the team championship at the Ted Reese Invitational Championship held at USM’s Hill Gymnasium on Saturday.

Gardiner native Daniel Del Gallo was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler after recording four victories in the 149-pound weight class. Del Gallo earned preliminary wins with a 20-2 technical fall and two pins before facing Springfield Tech’s Abbas Tamaradze in the finals. Del Gallo gutted out a tough 5-4 decision to claim the championship.

“I feel like I wrestled well,” said Del Gallo. “I wrestled the best I have this season but I still need to improve. As a team we wrestled well but we still aren’t where we need to be. Our coaches are working everyday to get us ready for the NCAA regionals. I am so glad that I chose to go to USM. We have some of the best coaching in New England college wrestling.”

Former Mt Blue High School wrestler Kevin Moore captured the 141 title, despite being sick during the week leading up to the event.

“I feel like I wrestled a little sloppy that day,” Moore said. “I had a tough couple of matches because I didn’t get a lot of practice that week. I had to gut it out and pretty much win in the last period of each match.”

USM coach Joe Pistone has been happy with the progress of Moore, who is a sophomore.

“Kevin has come a long way since his freshman campaign at USM,” Pistone said. “I always knew that he had the style that would best fit at the collegiate level and he has made all of the necessary adjustments in the offseason to get stronger and improve in order to have a successful season.”

The next big date on the USM schedule is the prestigious “Grapple at the Garden” on Dec 21. The event, which will be held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, features 25 collegiate teams in dual meet competition. USM is scheduled to face Stevens Institute of Technology (NY) and Muhlenberg College (PA).

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The Gardiner wrestling team was dealt a severe blow when Peter Del Gallo suffered what appears to be an elbow injury that could sideline him for the entire season. The junior tore his ulnar collateral ligament while at a preseason clinic at Brown University.

“Right now I am in a brace for four weeks with three to four months of rehab,” Del Gallo said. “We are going for a second opinion soon, but I will probably be missing my whole junior year of wrestling. Wrestling is my life. But what can I do? You just have to look forward and make new goals. I am going to work hard to come back stronger than before.”

Gardiner coach Matt Hanley says Del Gallo is making the best of a tough situation.

“He’s very involved in practice and helps with demonstrating moves,” Hanley said. “He’s a great kid and it’s great having him in there.”

Del Gallo, who has been one of the most successful high school wrestlers in Maine history, was a New England champion as a freshman and is a two-time state champion. His scholastic record as a Gardiner wrestler stands at 111-2, with the only two losses being at the New England tournament his sophomore season.

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The 41st edition of the Tiger Invitational will be held Saturday at Gardiner Area High School. Eleven teams will be in attendance, including the host Tigers. Wrestlers from Cony, Erskine, Maine Central Institute, Morse, Mt. Blue, Nokomis, Monmouth, Portland and Kennebunk will compete for team and individual honors.

Cony won the team title last season and appears in strong position to defend the title. The Rams will have three returning individual champions on the mats in Tre Caudill, Zeko Caudill and Elias Younes.

Gardiner’s Jake Truman and Andrew Doody-Veilleux will lead the Tigers, according to Hanley.

“Both of them looked pretty good at the (preseason) Westlake Tournament,” Hanley said.

Truman won the 182 class at the Westlake while Doody-Veilleux was second at 195 pounds. On Saturday, the two will switch weight classes.

“Andrew wrestled last season at 195, but decided to move down to 182,” Hanley said. “He should do well at that class after he settles into it. He’s a big, strong kid.”

The action is expected to begin at approximately 9:45 a.m.


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