Giani Reaches Milestone in Subdued Win
Over East Hampton
A small crowd filed into Blue Devil Gymnasium last
Friday to see Huntington’s (4-0) wrestling team open up their league
schedule with an easy victory over East Hampton, 67-9, allowing coach
Lou Giani to become the first Long Island mat coach to win 400 dual
The subdued nature of the afternoon suited Giani just
fine. After all, he hates to be the center of attention. But, like it
or not, the spotlight was clearly centered on the longtime coach.
No one doubted the Blue Devils would prevail, since
East Hampton forfeited four weight classes, giving Huntington a 24-0
lead before the opening whistle. Eight of the ten blue clad wrestlers
who took the mat handily won.
Brian Lifson (96 lbs.), Frank Sangiovanni (135) and
Pierre Delva all earned technical falls when they opened up a
fifteen-point difference with their respective opponents. Jon Dolan
(125), Chris Holland (152) and Charlie Paar (160) picked up pins and
Manny Santiago (130) and Jack Sullivan (189) grabbed convincing
On his special day, Giani appeared anxious to get the
match over with, as he paced around the bench, studying his clipboard
and occasionally shouting out instructions during matches. “It’s a
tribute to all the hard work that has gone on in the wrestling room all
these years,” said Travis T. Smith, assistant coach. “The Huntington
coaches and wrestlers have worked hard for a long time.”
Giani echoed Smith’s comments: “I haven’t won 400
meets. The team has won 400 meets since I’ve been here,” he said. “I
have always said that we win because we have hardworking coaches and
wrestlers, cooperative parents and a supportive administration and
school board that give us what we need to be successful.”
After a superb competitive career that included the
1959 Pan Am Games gold medal and a berth on the 1960 U.S. freestyle
Olympic team, Giani turned his sights to coaching. He was hired in
November 1967 by Eastern Military Academy in Cold Spring Hills and
started a junior varsity program. The following two years the team
competed on the varsity level, going 20-4-1 and winning the 1970 New
York State Private School Championship.
In November 1970, Giani returned to his alma mater
(Huntington ’53) and took over a moribund Blue Devil team from Joe
Victor. He immediately transformed them into a winner, going 9-5.
Entering this week, Giani’s lifetime mark is 400-28-1, including 208-7
in league meets.
Huntington School Board members Robert T. Lee and
Beverly Wayne, superintendent John J. Finello and assistant
superintendent Margaret Evers were in the crowd last Friday, as were
Blue Devil state champions Steven Palacios, Jack Piana, Lou Giani, Jr.
and Kieran Mock, who is currently on the high school coaching staff.
“It’s a real accomplishment for
coach Giani,” said Smith, who wrestled under Giani at Huntington. “He
is very proud of his association with the sport and with Huntington.”