Hauppauge’s Danny Mauriello never had a doubt in his mind.
Even after the defending state champion wrestler at 152 pounds bulked up to almost 180 during the Eagles’ football season.
Even when he suffered two fractures and two torn ligaments in his left thumb during the Eagles’ Suffolk Division III football win against Rocky Point on Oct. 19 (he still rushed for 188 yards and a touchdown in the game, and finished the season with 1,379 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns).
Even after missing more than half of the wrestling season and waiting to be medically cleared, Mauriello just had a feeling he’d find his way to the Suffolk Division I wrestling championships last weekend.
“I knew I’d be out for a little while,” he said, “but I knew I’d be back.”
Despite wrestling just nine matches before the Suffolk championships, the Hauppauge senior recorded a pin and two major decisions before a 3-2 decision over Ward Melville’s James Araneo in the 170-pound final.
It was Mauriello’s third Suffolk title (he won at 145 in 2018 and 152 in 2019) to give him a 13-0 record this season and a 181-17 career record according to his father, Nick, who doubles as an assistant coach for the Eagles.
“It was a great, great feeling,” said Mauriello, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “Even though I had been there before . . . I knew I had to get it done and I did.”
Some around Mauriello weren’t sure he’d be able to compete this season, including his father.
“It was crazy,” Nick said. “We didn’t even know if he was going to be able to wrestle, but once he got cleared [in late December] he started working on his cardio and getting to that championship level of being able to wrestle six great minutes.”
Danny is the last of three Mauriello brothers to wrestle. Oldest brother Nick won a Suffolk crown and middle brother Chris captured both a Suffolk and state title, and it was Chris who helped Danny the most in his recovery and training.
“That was huge to have his brother work out with him two or three nights a week,” said father Nick, a two-time All-County wrestler at Island Trees. “Nobody in our [wrestling] room is around his weight, and Chris really pushed him. It was a godsend to have Chris be able to work with him.”
Mauriello has a two-week window to prepare for the state championships.
“It’ll help me get in better shape,” said Mauriello, who will attend Stony Brook and plans to walk-on to the football team. “I have to work harder. I’m a little behind everyone else, but I’m working harder and getting my cardio up.”
Even though Mauriello is partial to football, he knows he’s close to reaching a major accomplishment in Albany.
“Football is my real love,” Mauriello said, “but it would mean everything winning a second state title.”