Senior Dan Del Gallo capped a historic weekend and an outstanding career as a member of the University of Southern Maine Huskies' wrestling team by ascending to the pinnacle of his sport winning the national title at 149-pounds at the 2017 NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championships hosted this weekend at the La Crosse Center by the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse.
Making his third consecutive appearance at the NCAA National Championship, Del Gallo achieved a number of milestones during his historic run to a national title. He established a new all-time win record for USM wrestling, earned the third All-American honor in program history and became the University of Southern Maine's first wrestling national champion. With his national championship secure, Del Gallo now joins track and field athletes Jamie Ruginski (Buxton, Maine) and Peyton Dostie (Standish, Maine) as the Huskies' only three individual sport national champions in USM history.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, completely," said Del Gallo in an interview with staff writer Drew Bonifant and the Portland Press Herald. "It's been an awesome journey. Not even just these past four years, but ever since I can remember."
A double major in philosophy and sociology, Del Gallo is a two-time (2015, 2016) NCAA Elite 90 award winner. The award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.
Del Gallo, a Gardiner, Maine native, entered the 2017 National Championship tournament seeded fourth in the 149-pound weight class, and claimed dominant victories in his first two matches of the tournament. With his first win, a 13-1 major decision over Concordia-Moorhead's Ty Johnson, Del Gallo celebrated the 134th victory of his career, making him the Huskies' all-time wins leader, surpassing the previous record of 133 held by current USM head coach Mike Morin, a former Husky All-American (2009, 2010) at 165 pounds. Del Gallo then vaulted himself in the championship semifinals while assuring himself All-American status for the first time in his career with a win by fall over Wesleyan's Carter Armendarez in 4:54.
In the championship semifinals, Del Gallo faced off against top-seed and two-time defending national champion Kenny Martin of Wartburg College with a spot for the championship bout on the line. Wrestling a smart match, Del Gallo came away with a hard-won 7-5 decision and a chance for a national title. In the championship match, Del Gallo took on Aaron Engle of Cornell College. After a scoreless first period, Del Gallo record a single-point in the second period with an escape, before going ahead of Engle 3-0 in the third with a takedown. Engle earned a single point with an escape in the period, before Del Gallo defended his way to a 4-1 win with riding time for the title.
Del Gallo finishes the 2017 National Championship with a 4-0 record, and completes his outstanding four-year career with the Huskies with a remarkable record of 137-19. Del Gallo completed his senior season with a near-perfect record of 45-1.
"It's pretty amazing when you lay your goals out and accomplish them," added Del Gallo in the Press Herald interview. "It was amazing to win there, but then after, running off the stage and into the back room, it just kind of hits you. It's just a real sense of relief and happiness, knowing that I accomplished my goal."
USM Athletic Media Relations contributed to this story.
Photo courtesy of Geoff Riccio.
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