USM sending two wrestlers to D3 national tournament
GORHAM — There's no doubt about it, the University of Southern Maine wrestling program is on the rise.
The Huskies got their first NCAA Division III national champion last year when Dan Del Gallo won the 149-pound title, and head coach Mike Morin has been on a roll in terms of recruiting and keeping the state's best wrestlers in Maine.
Shorey, who was a two-time state champion for Noble, became the first USM freshman to ever qualify for nationals when he placed third at 141 pounds at the Northeast Regional Championships.
The former Noble standout was confident that he could get to this point in his first season with the Huskies.
"To be honest, yea, I believed it," said Shorey. "My coaches told me they believed in me and they got me to where I needed to be to get there."
Del Gallo, who placed second at regionals, was thrilled to punch his ticket to nationals after falling one win shy during his freshman campaign.
"It's super exciting. I'm just excited to be able to go out and have the opportunity to show the nation what I've got out there," Del Gallo said.
The sophomore knows what to expect in Cleveland as he was able to watch his brother win the national title last year.
"I felt the arena and the crazy crowd and all the excitement there," said Del Gallo, who won four state titles at Gardiner. "It's nationals, I expect everybody to be good. I've just got to be better out there, work my hardest and be confident in what I can do and believe in the coaching."
The two Huskies weren't always teammates as Del Gallo beat Shorey in the 2016 state finals, but they have helped each other reach new heights this season as drill partners.
University of Southern Maine freshman Austin Shorey controls an opponent during a match this season. Shorey, who is a Noble High School graduate, will head to the NCAA Division III National Championships along with teammate Peter Del Gallo this weekend. SUBMITTED PHOTO
"Shorey coming in as a freshman, and my other drill partner David Kurker is also a freshman, just having them working hard every day has gotten me to where I am," said Del Gallo, who is happy to have Shorey with him as he heads to Cleveland. "It's awesome. He's been my drill partner all year so it makes it easy to keep working hard with the same people."
"It's awesome, especially with having Pete as my drill partner ... he's from Maine, I'm from Maine and it's just awesome," added Shorey, who loves being pushed in the room. "That's big for me because back in high school I didn't have that top-notch drill partner that would get me to the level I'm at now."
Both wrestlers are happy to see the USM room filled with a ton of home-grown talent.
"That's awesome. I always wanted to have a room full of Maine guys, especially since a lot of Maine guys don't (usually) stay in the state, and if we can get a good program here that will get our Maine guys to come here," said Shorey, who was a four-time state finalist for Noble.
Del Gallo believes the ability to keep the state's best wrestlers in Maine has been key to USM's recent success.
"It's definitely awesome. I'm super excited for the program, how successful we are and where we're going to go moving forward," said Del Gallo, who won a pair of New England championships during his high school career.
Dan Del Gallo's national title run certainly played a role in Shorey deciding to stay close to home.
"That was awesome," said Shorey, who wanted the chance to have the older Del Gallo as an assistant coach. "That kind of influenced me to come here ... just getting to have him as a coach."
Shorey would love to make some noise in Cleveland this weekend, and he knows in order to do that he will need to stay calm and focused on the national stage.
"All my coaches kind of told me how it's a way different atmosphere. The fans are crazy, so you just have to go out there mentally ready and believe in yourself," said Shorey, who is from Lebanon.
The Noble graduate knows that his time in the Knights' wrestling room helped get him to this point.
"I think it prepared me a lot. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Noble. It helped me love the sport of wrestling and definitely got me to this moment," Shorey said.
Del Gallo, who is ranked second in the country at 125 pounds, believes he has what it takes to follow in his brother's footsteps.
"Beat everybody and win," said Del Gallo on his goals for this weekend. "Just seeing him (win nationals) helps me get to my goals — knowing that he did it, I can do it."