Daniel DelGallo was already a high-caliber wrestler when he went to the 2011 New England high school championships as a sophomore.

After that experience, DelGallo made an increased commitment to himself and his sport.

“In order to compete at a higher level I had to put the work in,” DelGallo said. “I wanted to do the best I possibly could, and the only way to do that was to put in the work in practice.

“I wanted to excel,” he added.

DelGallo has excelled, and the Gardiner High senior and Class B state champion at 138 pounds is the Maine Sunday Telegram Wrestler of the Year.

DelGallo won 56 consecutive matches this season before losing 4-3 in the New England final.

He concluded his career with a 194-12 record, winning three state titles after placing second as a freshman.

He was also second in New England as a junior.

That DelGallo would be a good wrestler was almost a foregone conclusion, as he followed three older brothers to the mat, including next-oldest Matt, a four-time state champion and a Maine Sunday Telegram MVP. But his success was more than a product of genetics and his helpful background as a competitive gymnast with power-lifting experience.

“He outworks everybody. You can put Danny in any room and he’s going to eventually figure out what he needs to do be the hardest worker in the room,” Gardiner Coach Matt Hanley said.

DelGallo was elected Gardiner’s senior class president after unsuccessfully running for the office as a sophomore and junior.

The Wrestler of the Year candidates were many and strong.

Peter DelGallo (106 pounds), Daniel’s freshman brother, and Fryeburg Academy’s Connor Sheehan (113) claimed New England titles.

Four wrestlers went through the Maine season undefeated: Both DelGallos, Brunswick three-time state champ Jared Jensen at 170, and Brewer’s Victor Irwin at 220 pounds. Sheehan was also undefeated, but had only two regular-season matches because of an injury.

Prior to being injured on the eve of the Class B state meet, defending New England champ Brent Waterman was in the conversation. Marshwood sophomore Cody Hughes, the acknowledged best wrestler on the state’s best team, could not be overlooked.

“The one thing that set Danny apart a little was that top guys tried to stay away from him,” Matt Hanley said. “I know (Belfast state champ Coleman) Powers was at 145 to stay away from Danny. Waterman went down to 132 to stay away from Danny.”

“Danny DelGallo, in my view, is strikingly different from most of the top wrestlers,” Camden Hills Coach Patrick Kelly said. “What he brings to the table is extraordinary. His ability to score, to get out of trouble, and then put a guy on his back; his combination of athleticism and gymnastics, I just think he’s a cut above.” 

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com