Peter Del Gallo’s wrestling season was supposed to be over before it began, thanks to a torn elbow ligament suffered at a preseason clinic at Princeton University.

Instead, the Gardiner junior made a late season return to the mat in time to claim a third consecutive state title and place fourth at the New England championships.

For his amazing comeback and outstanding success, Del Gallo is the Kennebec Journal Wrestler of the Year.

Zeko Caudill of Cony was also considered.

“The initial diagnosis was that I would be done wrestling for a full year and likely for two years if I had to have surgery,” said Del Gallo. “But, somehow, the ligament healed by itself.”

Del Gallo was cleared to compete just three weeks before the end of the regular season and only wrestled in six matches prior to the Western B regional tournament. Despite the lack of mat time, he cruised through the regional and Class B state championships, easily winning both events. He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the state tournament.

“The initial thought was to just get him through the state tournament and call it a season,” said Gardiner coach Matt Hanley. “But, he wanted to compete at Maine’s New England qualifier and have a shot at wrestling again at the New England tournament.”

Del Gallo had won a New England title as a freshman and placed fifth last season.

He placed second at the New England qualifier to Marshwood’s Bradley Beaulieu. Beaulieu would go on to finish second at the New England tournament.

Del Gallo came tantalizingly close to also gaining a berth in the New England finals. Leading 1-0 in the third period in his semifinals match against defending New England champion Troy Gassaway, a Vermont native, Del Gallo lost control of a leg ride and gave up a reversal and back points. The final score was 5-3 in favor of Gassaway.

“Probably the major thing that the injury has done to Peter is make him change his style when he rides (offensive position),” said Hanley. “He had incredible strength in his arms and hands and used to control his opponent that way. He’s had to switch more to riding legs and that cost him in that match.”

“I ‘m definitely not back to 100 percent yet,” said Del Gallo. “My cardio (cardiovascular endurance) isn’t totally there and I still have some pain in my elbow. I can’t lift weights like I want because of that and my arm strength and grip strength are down.”

Del Gallo’s continued his successful winter. He finished second in the 120-pound junior division at the national wrestling championships, held last weekend at Virginia Beach, Va.

Del Gallo, who was the second seed, also placed second in the sophomore nationals last year.

“After (nationals), I’m planning on competing in Freestyle (Olympic style) at Northeast Regionals and Fargo Nationals later in the summer,” Del Gallo said.


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