Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications
When Hofstra wrestling red-shirt senior Lou Ruggirello looks up into the Mack Sports Complex rafters and sees the retired jersey of Nick Gallo he gets an extra reminder of his chief goal for his final season on the Pride mats. Gallo was Hofstra wrestling’s last and only national champion in 1977 and Ruggierello would like nothing better than to match that feat this coming March.
“Every time I think about it makes me want to push that much harder to get it done and join his company,” said Ruggierello, who has gotten to know Gallo in recent years and often terms to the former collegiate national champion for advice.
Ruggiello, a three-time Colonial Athletic Association champion and NCAA qualifier, is off to a 4-1 start this season and is ranked sixth in the nation at 133 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News and Division I College Wrestling. While red-shirting last season the Walden N.Y. native spent lots of time with freestyle wrestling and trying to improve his conditioning in preparation for a national title push.
In addition to his desire to grab an individual goal of capturing a national title, Ruggiello also wants to push the entire Hofstra team to advance as far as possible. Hofstra is 2-2-1 and ranked 25th in the National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today Division I Team Coaches Poll heading into the Cliff Keen-Las Vegas Invitational this weekend.
“A lot of young guys have a lot of potential,” said Ruggirello, whose younger brother Cody is a freshman on the team and is off to a 4-2 record at 141 pounds. “I definitely want to push the team to do as good as possible.”