In March of 2013, Anthony Giraldo wasn’t satisfied being only the second wrestler in North Bergen High School history and the fifth in the history of Hudson County to win an NJSIAA state championship.
At that time, Giraldo set his goals to do it all again, even though no one in the history of the county had ever repeated as a state champ or won a second state title.
“I think it’s going to be fun if I can do the same thing,” Giraldo said last March. “I’m going to work hard, even harder than this year, because everyone will be shooting for me. But I love wrestling. I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Sure looks like it was no problem at all.
Giraldo cemented his legacy as one of the greatest athletes in Hudson County history last Sunday, when he won the 132-pound state championship at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The Guttenberg resident and High Tech High School senior defeated Mike Magaldo of Watchung Hills, 3-1, in the title bout, to complete his senior campaign with an unblemished 41-0 record.
“Last year was pretty awesome, because there weren’t too many people who expected that I would win a state championship,” Giraldo said. “This year, everyone was watching me and expecting this. I know some people were talking about me losing in the state finals. I might have been a little nervous, but I had the confidence in myself that I could do it. Every day, throughout the season, all I did was envision myself standing on that podium again. It just shows me that all the hard work paid off.”
Giraldo, the all-time Hudson County leader in career victories, ends his stellar career with an unfathomable record of 157-10, including the last 70 straight of his career, becoming the first Bruin wrestler to go undefeated in a season since the school’s other state champion John Bott back in 1983.
Bott, currently a math teacher at North Bergen and a former head coach at the school, congratulated Giraldo Tuesday on winning another state title.
“It’s a great accomplishment for Anthony and the school,” Bott said. “No one is more deserving than Anthony. I’ve been around wrestling for a long time and Anthony embodies what you want in a wrestler. He goes about things the right way. You need to have the talent and have things go your way as well. Anthony was able to put it all together.”
“He always wanted to achieve more,” North Bergen head coach and athletic director Jerry Maietta said. “He won last year, but this year, he worked even harder. He always works hard. He doesn’t take much time off. Winning again is definitely not an easy task, but he set his goals early and went out to reach those goals.”
“It feels good to know how I’ll be remembered,” Giraldo said. “As a little kid, I dreamed about just going to the states [in Atlantic City]. I now know I can achieve my goals. This gives me motivation for my next goals.”
Giraldo, who is headed to Rutgers in the fall on a wrestling scholarship, already has more goals in mind.
“I want to become an NCAA champion and make the junior world freestyle national team,” Giraldo said.
Who’s going to doubt Giraldo, considering his incredible ledger of success already?...
Speaking of success, it was clearly the best year ever for Hudson County wrestlers at the state tournament. Besides Giraldo, eight other Hudson County wrestlers earned a medal in Atlantic City.
St. Peter’s Prep had an amazing six wrestlers earn medals, including two who finished second overall. Senior Michael Russo (120 pounds) and junior Ryan Burkert (145 pounds) both lost championship bouts, but being a state runner-up is nothing to sneeze at.
Alec Kelly won his consolation bout to finish third at 106 pounds. Connor Burkert, Ryan’s twin brother, was fourth at 138 pounds, as was Jordan Fox at 220 pounds. Armond Cox was seventh overall in the heavyweight division.
Secaucus also has a reason to be excited, considering that Jan Castellanos and Sean Roesing both earned medals in Atlantic City. Castellanos was sixth at 182 pounds and Roesing was seventh at 170 pounds. --Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.