GARDINER — A middle child with brothers three years older and three years younger, Dan Del Gallo was always on his toes.

The Gardiner native had the big task of following in the wrestling footsteps of his older brother, Matthew, one of a select few Maine high school wrestlers to win four state titles. His younger brother, Peter, would go on to do the same — always nipping at Dan’s heels.

“I had it on both sides,” said Del Gallo, a 2013 Gardiner Area High School graduate who went on to wrestle at the University of Southern Maine. “I was chasing after a brother, and then I had another one coming up behind me. There was a lot of competitiveness and camaraderie.”

It challenged Del Gallo to get better, something he did at both Gardiner and USM in the form of one of the most prolific careers in Maine high school wrestling history. He’ll be honored for that career later this month as one of the newest members in the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame.

After finishing as runner-up in Class B’s 130-pound division as a freshman in 2010, Del Gallo became state champ at 135 in 2011 and at 138 in 2011 and 2013, finishing as Gardiner’s all-time winningest wrestler with 197 wins. He even excelled outside the state, finishing second at the New England championships his freshman and senior years.

It was only the start. After going 21-8 as a freshman at USM, he qualified for the NCAA Division III championships as a sophomore and again as a junior, when he ranked fourth in the nation at 139 pounds. The cherry on top, though, was a 2016-17 senior season that saw Del Gallo win the program’s first-ever national championship at 149 pounds.


“I had a great career up to that point, but there weren’t many seasons that I had achieved my ultimate goal,” said Del Gallo, now an assistant wrestling coach at Wabash College in Indiana. “I had fallen short at New Englands in high school, so to have that ultimate goal and winning it in my last wrestling match was a culminating experience.”

Although Matthew and Peter were more natural wrestlers, Gardiner head coach Matt Hanley said, Dan was unmatched in his work ethic. Hanley said that trait rubbed off on Peter, who would go on to win four state titles in a row at Gardiner before joining Dan on the USM squad as a college freshman.

That work ethic pushed Del Gallo to greater heights at USM. In college, he defeated several wrestlers who had bested him in high school. Becoming national champion required him to bounce back from a tough second-place finish at the NCAA regional meet and beating the nation’s No. 1 wrestler — he upset two-time national champion Kenny Martin of Wartburg College, 7-5, in the semifinals — but Del Gallo couldn’t be stopped.

“He was so close to becoming the first wrestler at USM to win regionals, and that could have been a setback, but it just motivated him more,” Hanley said. “I knew it would only be a matter of time for him (to be inducted) just because of what he accomplished and the work he put in.”

The decision to induct Del Gallo didn’t take much thought. As a 2013 high school graduate, 2023 marked the first year he was eligible for Hall of Fame induction. The 10-year wait had long been a mere formality for Del Gallo, who easily amassed the required votes from the Alliance’s 14-member committee to be selected.

“If we were able to vote for him right after he won the national title, I’m sure he would’ve gotten in then as well,” said Terry Devereaux, an Alliance Executive Board member as well as a former Gardiner assistant coach. “There’s a character component to (the vote), too, and he’s such a hard worker and a great guy.”

The induction ceremony is set for Aug. 19 at Mast Landing Brewing Company in Freeport. Del Gallo will be enshrined alongside Kevin Gray, who won state titles in 1997 (103 pounds) and 1998 (112) at Noble High School, and Gary Dolloff, a three-time state title-winning head coach at Mountain Valley.

It won’t be Del Gallo’s first time experiencing the Hall of Fame. He received Caramihalis Outstanding Wrestler honors from the Alliance in 2013 as the state’s top wrestler and was also named Outstanding College Wrestler in 2016 and 2017. The ceremony, though, will bring things full circle.

“I remember being there and asking my coach about certain people in the Hall of Fame and what they did, so it’s cool to be on the other side of that now,” Del Gallo said. “Doing it for all the coaches and people who helped my wrestling career, that’s what I’m most excited about.”

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