When Anthony Giraldo first started to wrestle in the North Bergen Recreation program as a youngster, he always dreamed of the day that he could reach the pinnacles of a wrestler’s career.
Simply put, Giraldo wanted to win a state championship and earn a scholarship to college.
Last March, Giraldo secured the first part, becoming the second North Bergen wrestler and only the fifth in Hudson County history to win an NJSIAA state championship, earning the 126-pound state championship.
Last week, Giraldo added the second piece to the puzzle, when the Guttenberg resident signed a national letter of intent to attend Rutgers University next fall and wrestle for the Scarlet Knights.
Giraldo, who attends High Tech High School, signed the letter last week at a presentation at North Bergen High School.
“It’s awesome,” Giraldo said. “I’m so excited. I get the opportunity to be in the same room with all the great wrestlers.”
As it turned out, Giraldo didn’t have much of an option to go to another school. That’s because he has spent the last few months working out and training with the Scarlet Knights Wrestling Club.
“I connected with them and got to know the coaches well,” Giraldo said. “I got to travel with the coaches, so I feel comfortable with them. Rutgers was a clear choice. It was an easy decision for me.”
Giraldo said that he was happy to make his college decision early.
“I guess it’s easier for me to make my decision now, but it wouldn’t have changed anything how I approach it,” Giraldo said. “It wouldn’t have been a problem. I wasn’t about to let it get in my head. I just want to go out there and accomplish my goals.”
And the next goal is to win another state championship.
North Bergen wrestling coach and athletic director Jerry Maietta was ecstatic that Giraldo was able to sign a scholarship letter.
“It’s great for Anthony and it’s for the program,” Maietta said. “Rutgers is a great school and they’re going into the Big Ten so that’s a great league for wrestling. He’s going to be near to home, right around the corner. Of course, winning a state championship is great, but getting this is the pinnacle.”
Maietta called Giraldo “the most decorated wrestler in North Bergen history.”
“There would have been other opportunities for him, but winning the state championship put it over the top,” Maietta said. “Rutgers is showing that they want to keep the blue chippers here. For us, he’s a home grown kid who put in the time, doing something he loves. It’s a big milestone for the program.”
Giraldo will keep working to become the first Hudson County native to repeat as state champ.
“I just want to get better,” Giraldo said. “I’m going to step up my goals. I don’t ever want to be satisfied.”
Sounds like Giraldo is ready for a second go-round as a state champ…
Speaking about former North Bergen athletes who attended High Tech – Former Bruin All-State football standout Vin Ascolese III, who originally gave a verbal commitment to Arkansas before running into academic difficulty, has narrowed down his choices and will announce his collegiate intentions in the coming weeks.
Ascolese, the grandson of coaching legend Vince Ascolese, never went to Arkansas and has been taking classes in local junior colleges. He will have all four years of eligibility at whatever school he chooses….
Speaking about North Bergen High and Guttenberg, former Secaucus volleyball coach Maria Nolan, still a Secaucus physical education teacher, coached Immaculate Heart Academy to its third straight NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title.
Nolan, a Guttenberg native who attended North Bergen, is the all-time leader in coaching victories in New Jersey history…
Sad news to report. Jersey City sports figure James “Bumpy” Stevens died last week after a brief illness. “Bumpy” was a huge fan of St. Anthony basketball and was a fixture at the Friars’ games, but he was also known as a very fine baseball umpire who had no peers. “Bumpy,” who was a big fan of this column, will be sorely missed…
Last week, we reported about the injury that Marist football standout D’Ondre Robinson suffered in the loss to St. Joseph of Hammonton. It turned out that Robinson had a small blood clot on his brain that caused him to collapse on the sidelines of that game. Robinson spent a few days in Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, but he has since been released. His football career is in question…
A few weeks ago, we wrote about Hoboken native Anthony Russo, the 5-year-old who became the youngest runner in the nation to finish a half marathon. Well, last weekend, little Anthony became the fastest runner his age to finish a 5 kilometer race. Talk about a kid with a bright future…
McNair Academic’s Brittany Gibson finished 76th overall at last Saturday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions, crossing the finish line in just under 20 minutes at 19:59.79. Gibson carried the banner for the entire county at the M of C….
No denying this fact: The New York Giants’ best defensive player over the last few weeks has been former St. Peter’s Prep standout Will Hill, who came back to Jersey City last Friday night to see his alma mater take on St. Augustine Prep in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 semifinals…
The picture used in the Scoreboard portion of this week’s column was taken by George Falkowski, who learned last week that his services were no longer wanted at News12 New Jersey after 18 years.
Falkowski did a marvelous job reporting high school sports over the years, including doing the Scholar-Athlete of the Week feature. He was a credit to the sports journalism profession and his services as a reporter will be sorely missed. George is a good friend who will eventually land on his feet somewhere…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.