Peter Morano wrestled for Coach Paul Gallo at New Canaan High School for three years and then enrolled at Wagner College on Staten Island where he made the team as a walk-on in the 174-pound class.
"I went 0-12-didn't win a match in my freshman year," Morano said.
But in the off-season he worked hard and returned to the team as a 6',0" 195 sophomore where he compiled a .500 record. He credited his improvement to "maturing more than anything else," wrestling in the 184-pound weight class in his second year.
With two years remaining his wrestling future looked promising. But just as Morano was hitting his stride, the mat was pulled.
As members of the Northeast Conference, Wagner was coming off a mediocre football season and hoping to improve the program—at the expense of wrestling. Wagner decided more space was needed for football players to weight train and the wrestling team's gym was ideal. So the school dropped wrestling last March.
That left few options for Morano if he wanted to continue wrestling. The newly formed club team was very low key and without a coach. Morano wanted to keep wrestling in open competitions, but needed a way to stay in match shape. That's when his old coach told him he was welcome back at his old high school whenever he was back in New Canaan where he could train with the team.
"Peter works out with the heavier weights. He helps [the current Rams] learn and in turn he sharpens his skills and conditioning," Coach Gallo said. "I've never seen anyone in my 21 years as a coach who loves the sport and is willing to work at it like Peter. He started from scratch, borrowed a book on the sport and taught himself how to wrestle. He's really done it all on his own."
Gallo can empathize with Morano when it comes to being the victim of a dropped sport by the college. He was a member of the University of Connecticut wrestling team when that school dropped the sport in 1981.
After a 10-month layoff from competitive wrestling, with no coach, no trainer and no fellow wrestlers by his side, Morano represented his club team at the Long Island Wrestling Open on Jan. 3 at the Nassau Community College Physical Education complex. He finished in third-place in his weight class.
Morano began the tournament with a first-round bye followed by a 9-2 loss. That relegated Morano to the consolation round where he wrestled his way back to the main draw. His first win in the consolation round came via pin against Eric Schott from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 46 seconds; then a win by decision against top seed Jake Phillips (3-2) of Delaware Valley (PA) and another win-by-decision against Nassau Community College's Jesus Cartagena (4-2). Morano's fourth and last win was by forfeit.
In addition to working out with the Rams squad, Morano is doing weight training at the New Canaan YMCA while he's home. He'll return to school after the holiday break with two tournaments on his horizon: the Amherst Ground Hog Invitational on Feb. 6, which is a club tournament, followed by the National Collegiate Open held at Clarion University in Pennsylvania.