Thursday, April 29, 2010

DelGallo Wins Schultz Award

Gardiner High School’s Matt DelGallo added another accolade to an impressive high school wrestling resume when he was named Maine’s 2010 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner. The award, presented by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, is named in honor of the late Dave Schultz who was an NCAA and Olympic champion.

“The Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award is presented annually to a high school senior in each of the 49 states that sanction a High School State Wrestling Championship,” said Lee Roy Smith, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Executive Director. “The award is based equally on outstanding wrestling success, scholastic achievement and citizenship or community service.”

“Matt certainly meets all the criteria for the award,” said Gardiner coach Matt Hanley. “He has been an honor roll student, is active in his church and his accomplishments on the mat speak for themselves.”
DelGallo leaves the Gardiner program as the all-time leader in wins with 171. He was a four-time state champion, winning two Class A titles and two Class B titles. He was also a four time conference and regional champion among numerous other tournament titles.

The award includes an all-expense paid trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to take part in a four day training camp hosted by USA Wrestling. USA Wrestling is the National Governing Body for Olympic Wrestling.

“The camp includes technique sessions with Olympians and World Team coaches, as well as off-the-mat sessions on character development, leadership training, and civic duty,” said USA Wrestling’s Tony Black. "This is a chance for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and USA Wrestling to work together and put together a fantastic camp for some of our nation's finest young men. These are the future leaders inside and outside of our sport, so we are excited to have them at the Olympic Training Center."

“It is awesome to get this award,” said DelGallo. “I am excited to go to the Training Center. I feel honored to get this once in a life time opportunity. It should be a great time.”

The next step in DelGallo’s wrestling journey takes place this fall when he will enter Messiah College (Grantham, PA). DelGallo plans on competing on the Falcon team under the tutelage of Coach Bryan Brunk, a standout wrestler while at Bonny Eagle High School (Buxton, ME)

“I'm really excited to bring in a wrestler with Matt's ability and potential,” said Brunk. “The fact that Matt has wrestled in my home state of Maine and has had so much success on the mat makes him a special recruit for us. Someone who has been a four time State champ knows how to compete and knows how to win. I believe that our room at
Messiah will provide Matt with a number of talented training partners that will only help him to refine his technique and increase his intensity.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wrestling honor would be fitting for UNH's Marsh

"It means something for the kids in the program," Marsh said. "In the 15 years UNH has been in the NCWA, a New England coach has never been selected. These are great kids in this program and they deserve it."
This coming from a guy who has earned his share of honors and awards over more than 50 years of being involved in the sport. After a successful wrestling career at Winnacunnet High School (Class of 1961), he earned a college scholarship to Appalachian State, where his team lost just two meets in his five years (Marsh redshirted a year). He placed second at the 1968 Olympic Trials, and is a former U.S. Wrestling Federation champion. Marsh was inducted into the USA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1985.
Yep, he's the Hulk Hogan of real wrestling. But wait, there's more (and know that Marsh isn't capable of talking about himself this much — the only way to find all this is to dig).
Marsh has been an NCAA official for more than 40 years and has worked more than 50 regional and national tournaments, though he will only referee high school matches at the moment since he is coaching a college team. He's a compliance officer with the NCWA, too, so you know he's got serious mat cred.
Past coaching jobs include stints at UMass-Lowell and Exeter High School. No, there isn't much Marsh, a North Hampton resident, hasn't accomplished in wrestling.
In all his years on and around the mat, though, his body of work over the past four years at UNH is without out a doubt among his finest. When Marsh took over the club team at State U in Durham four years ago, they had been through two coaches in a short span of time and there were only six young men on the team.
Fast-forward four years to present day, and the differences are stunning. A team of just six has grown to 32, which, according to Marsh, places them among the top three largest teams in the country. UNH has had 28 student-athletes qualify for nationals, five All-Americans and three national champions. The Wildcats finished sixth last year at nationals, and this year finished 20th in a 95-team field.
Marsh's coaching style has much to do with it.
"Coach Marsh has done an awesome job," said senior standout Shaun Toomey, a Hampton resident who graduated from Winnacunnet in 2006, and whose younger brother, Patrick is a freshman member of the UNH squad (Winnacunnet Class of 2009). "His style is so unique. He puts an emphasis on us making our own decisions."
That's by design.
"When I came in here, I told the kids I was going to train them like an Olympic team," Marsh said. "I'm not a yelling, screaming type of person. They know what I expect. This is a highly motivated group of kids. Seventy percent of them have been state champions, so they know how to win."
While the athletic accomplishments are impressive, they mean far less to Marsh than the accomplishments that really count. In his four years at UNH, the program has not had any academically ineligible wrestlers.
"These kids have a cumulative 3.19 grade-point average, so I'm dealing with smart kids," Marsh said proudly. "We're looking at academics first. I let the kids choose the meets we compete in, so they can work their schedules around exams and projects."
It should be noted that UNH wrestling is a club team and receives no financial support from the university. They face many varsity programs, though, competing against the likes of UMass-Amherst, UConn, Yale, Dartmouth, Harvard €» you get the picture.
Marsh is probably nearing the end of his tenure with the Wildcats. How many more seasons that means is anyone's guess, but he is beginning to set the stage for the future of the program.
"I will be 66 soon, so depending on the assistant coaches I get, who knows?" Marsh said with a smile. "I've got two good ones coming in, though."
Marsh hopes to bring in a couple of his top wrestlers, seniors Matt Foley and Toomey, next year as assistants. Foley, of Kennebunk, Maine, and Toomey would both seem to fit the bill perfectly. Both are four-time collegiate national qualifiers, and both are the type of people Marsh has tried to bring into the program.
"They're good kids, and they're solid citizens," he said.
He feels close to, and tries to take care of, all of his wrestlers.
"They all have my cell phone number and home phone number and I tell them if they are ever in a place they feel uncomfortable, I'm there in 20 minutes," Marsh said. "I'll take you back to your dorm or apartment, no questions asked."
That kindness hasn't gone unnoticed.
"Henry's not only a coach, he's a mentor," Toomey said. "A lot of us ask him for career advice. He's just a super-nice guy."
Regardless of how much longer he leads the UNH wrestling team, Marsh has already left an indelible mark on the program. In the meantime, he'll await the results of the national coach of the year vote, hoping the team pulls out another big win.

Mike Sullivan is a Herald columnist. He can be reached at

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cony's Vallee earns high recognition after finishing 3rd at tournament


TJ Vallee set a new standard for Cony wrestlers when he achieved All-New England status at the New England Wrestling Tournament last weekend. The senior went 4-1 to place third in the 189-pound weight class. Vallee became the first Cony wrestler to earn a medal at the New England tournament.

click image to enlarge
BIG TIME: Cony High School’s TJ Vallee, top, earned All-New England status after finishing third in the New England Wrestling Tournament last weekend in New Haven, Conn. Vallee easily pinned Massachusetts’ Kyle Humphries, bottom, in 57 seconds in his second match of the tournament.
Contributed photo
The tournament, held at the New Haven Athletic Center in Connecticut, brought together top wrestlers from the six New England states. The top six finishers out of 22 entrants in each weight class earn All-New England status.
"TJ wrestled the best he ever has," Cony coach Shawn Totman said. "He had incredible motion and explosiveness on his feet whether trying to score or defending against his opponents' attacks. On bottom, I have never seen him move so fast in getting to his feet and gaining his escapes. No one had a prayer of holding him down to work a pinning combination. That is saying something when you look at how good every wrester is at a tournament like the New Englands. Every athlete competing is phenomenal."
Vallee opened the tournament with a 4-3 decision over Connecticut's Sean O'Connell.
"Mentally preparing for wrestling matches of this caliber was hard," Vallee said. "Every single match you wrestle has so much riding on it. I have never been to a New England tournament before so I didn't really know what to expect. But after I got my first win out of the way, I felt much better."
Vallee made short work of Massachusett's Kyle Humphries in the quarterfinals, catching him in a head and arm throw and securing a win by pin in 57 seconds.
Vallee lost a gut-wrenching semifinals match to Massachusett's top-ranked wrestler, Alex Najjar, by a 7-5 decision. The match was tied at 5-5 late in the third period when Najjar got a takedown to score the deciding points. Najjar would go on to win the championship.
Vallee battled back into the consolation finals by beating Connecticut's top-seeded Shane Battista, 5-2. He pinned long-time rival and fellow Mainer Tyler Russell of Morse High School in the consolation finals to finish in third place.
"Ironically, those two spent quite a bit of time practicing together to get ready for the New Englands," said Totman.
Totman was impressed by how well Vallee held up over the grueling two-day event. Four of Vallee's matches came on the second day of competition, according to Totman.
"I honestly thought his conditioning was the best of any of the kids he faced in the tournament," Totman said. "That is amazing considering he has had three weeks since his last competition and almost all the wrestlers he faced from the other states have seasons that take them right up to the New Englands."
Vallee had spent the weeks since the state championships practicing technique with Cony coaches and wrestling "live" (competitive situations) with Morse's two New England qualifiers, Russell and Arthur Cavanaugh (215), according to Totman. He also spent extensive time in the weight room.
"I don't think anybody in his weight class at New England's was stronger than TJ," Totman said.
"My ultimate goal was to win the tournament, but I'm extremely pleased with what I accomplished," Vallee said. "It's hard to believe my high school career is over, but I'm happy with the way it ended.