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Blue Devil Mat Coach Wins his 400th Meet with Huntington

Lou Giani waited 37 seasons to win his 400th dual meet as head coach of the Huntington wrestling team, so what’s another hour or so?  The Blue Devil legend had to wait a little bit longer after the team bus got lost on its long journey to Eastport/South Manor.  When all was said and done, the Hall of Famer left a happy man as his matmen toppled the Sharks, 62-9.

Giani has been involved in the Huntington program since his sophomore year in high school in 1950.  It was then that he set his mind on a sport that has delivered up more than a few thrills, including a Pan Am Games gold medal, a spot on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Rome, a record 23 New York state champions and induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma as a distinguished member.

Through it all, the soft-spoken coach, who has headed the program since 1970, prefers to shy away from any credit for the program’s national reputation and instead cite his staff, the wrestlers and the school community.  “We’ve been able to win because we have built a complete program,” he said.

Coupled with 20 dual victories the coach accumulated during a two-year stint as head coach at the long ago closed Eastern Military Academy (now Oheka Castle), and Giani now has a sterling overall record of 420-34-1 in 39 seasons.  (He also coached one season on the JV level at EMA).

Against the Sharks, Huntington was all business.  The Blue Devils recorded four pins, won two other matches by technical fall and took a seventh match by a 13-0 score.  Eastport/South Manor forfeited four other bouts for a total of 24 points.  Jose Vasquez, Stephan Riley, Omar Santiago and Chris DeRosa all won by pin. 

The victory was Huntington’s second in as many meets.  The team also won three straight tournaments to open the season.  “The kids are working hard, improving and cutting down on their mistakes,” Giani said.

Jimmie Garrett, back on the squad after an early winter stint with the basketball team, looked strong at 135 lbs.  His match was stopped at the 4:46 mark after the senior opened a 15 point lead.  Allan Hendrickson grabbed Huntington’s second tech fall won he opened a 15 point spread early in the third period of his 171 lb. match.  Francisco Pereira earned a 13-0 decision at 119 lbs. 

Giani hasn’t shown any indicattion that this will be his final season with the program.  So the legend’s career victory total can be expected to continue growing.