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Middle Weight Wrestler of the Year Spotlight: Jo Jo

South Carroll's Jo Jo Gigliotti entered high school two years ago as a four-time junior league state title winner, and the sophomore may yet reproduce those accomplishments before he graduates.

The son of Anthony Gigliotti, a former Class 4A-3A state champion at Sherwood in 1999, Jo Jo won his second straight Carroll County, Class 2A-1A North Regional and Class 2A-1A state titles this year.

Ranked No. 1 by Legacy Wrestling at 132 pounds, Gigliotti went 51-1 on the season with 38 pins, improved his career mark to 99-3, and has been named Legacy Wrestling's Middleweight Wrestler Of The Year.

"I don't like losing at all," Gigliotti said. "I just hold myself to a higher standard."

Gigliotti finished sixth at 126 pounds in the sophomore division of last weekend's National High School Coaches Association Tournament (NHSCA) held in Virginia Beach.

At the NHSCA's, Gigliotti used a technical fall, pins in 83 and 17 seconds, a major decision and an 8-1 decision to reach the semifinals, where he lost an overtime, 3-2, decision to eventual runner-up Justyce Zuniga of Toppenish, Washington.

Zuniga lost his title bout, 1-0, to Trey Wagner of Nazereth, Pennsylvania. Wagner and Zuniga were state champions.

Gigliotti medically forfeited his remaining matches due to a shoulder injury according to Anthony Gigliotti. Among Jo Jo's victories was an 8-1 decision over third-place finishing John Stewart of Scottsboro, Alabama, who went unbeaten at 46-0 to win a state title at 138 pounds.

Gigliotti's run to his second county title comprised falls in 2:16 and 30 seconds, the latter in the championship match with freshman Beau Snell of Manchester Valley a week prior to earning his second consecutive regional crown.

At regions, Gigliotti reached the finals on pins in 58 and 35 seconds, the latter over eventual fourth-place finishing Patterson Mill senior Jeff Gessner, who was third at the previous weekend’s Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference (UCBAC) tournament.

Gigliotti also scored a fall in 2:59 over regional championship bout rival junior Nate Taylor of Francis Scott Key, who was third in the Carroll County tournament. Gigliotti's path to a second state title was more of the same, comprising pins in 54 seconds and 1:40, a semifinal 12-6 victory over Kent County senior Greg Couch, and a title-bout win by injury default over Taylor. Couch finished third at states.

Gigliotti became only the fifth South Carroll freshman to win a state title, and is on pace to become the Cavaliers' first four-time state champion in a program that already has crowned five three-time state titlists in Mike Chenoweth, Mike Pizzuto, AJ Rodrigues, Joey Thomas and Jamaar Williams.

Last year's Cavaliers crowned a pair of three-time state champions in Pizzuto and Rodrigues, along with two-time state title-winner Gage Owen and state champ Rylan Moose.

South Carroll's other two-time state champions are Cam Hobin and Cavaliers coach Bryan Hamper, a 2001 South Carroll graduate.

Gigliotti can also join the Cavaliers' three-time county champions in Williams, Jason Hamper, Mike Mueller, Tyler Mullen, Dan Patterson and Andrew Winfield, as well as four-time county title winners in Moose, Owen, Pizzuto, Rodrigues and Thomas.

"I'm going to be at South Carroll for the rest of my high school career," Gigliotti said. "My goal is to become their first four-time state champion."

But as majestic as Gigliotti is as a repeat state titleist, he is even more so considering the substance not only of his own resume but of some of the wrestlers he has vanquished.

Among Gigiliotti's victories are those over senior Carter Nogle of Mount St. Joseph, two-time Class 4A-3A state champion Drew Montgomery of Northern-Calvert County, Class 2A-1A state champion junior Tanner Halling of Boonsboro, two-time state finalist junior Alex DeVriendt of Middletown, and two-time state finalist sophomore Beau Schmidt of Northeast-Anne Arundel County.

Gigliotti's statement win was perhaps last year's 9-3 decision over Nogle, a three-time champion in both the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and private schools state tournaments who is ranked No. 1 by Legacy Wrestling at 138 pounds.

"Beating Carter Nogle opened a lot of people's eyes even though I knew from the start that I was going to do that to him," Gigliotti said. "Carter Nogle has a great style, but it's a style that I was very prepared to wrestle against. A lot of people around me knew that was what was going to happen, but in retrospect, I just showed everybody that I'm the best in the state."

Gigliotti went 48-2 a year ago, culminating with a 3-2 state championship victory over Halling, who entered at 45-0. Halling finished this year with a mark of 48-0 at 126 pounds, where he used three technical victories to reach the state finals before winning his championship bout, 8-4, over sophomore Devon Opel of Northern Garrett.

Gigliotti's victory over Halling is even more awe-inspiring considering that Halling finished third at states as a 113-pound freshman after scoring a fall in 2:04 over then-South Carroll freshman Evan Owen finished as a state runner-up for the second straight time this year after losing his 120-pound title bout, 6-4, to Rising Sun's three-time Class 2A-1A state champion Tyler Garvin.

Gigliotti scored a reversal and a pair of near-fall points during his 4-2 decision victory over Montgomery, who finished second at states as a freshman before winning the past two Class 4A-3A state titles.

Gigliotti is also the owner of a 4-2 decision over Schmidt, as well as a pair of decision wins by the scores of 11-3 and 6-4 over DeVriendt, the latter of whom placed third at states as a freshman.

Gigliotti finished second at 127 pounds in December's Trojan Wars Tournament at Chambersburg Area High in Chambersburg, Pa., going 4-1 with two pins, a technical fall and a major decision.

Gigliotti had reached the finals following a 17-2 technical fall, an 85-second pin, a 12-4 major decision and a fall in 3:23, the latter in his semifinal bout against eventual third-place finishing freshman Stephen Myers of Parkersburg High of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Myers improved his record on the year to 16-1 following a 7-5 victory for third place.

In the Trojan Wars' title bout, Gigliotti lost, 7-3, after leading, 2-0, against senior Lucas Fye of Bald Eagle Area, who also won last year's Trojan Wars event at 120 pounds. The fact that Gigliotti was bitterly disappointed in his runner-up finish at Trojan Wars comes from the drive that makes him such a tremendously talented wrestler.

"It's tough knowing that my three career losses were at the Trojan Wars' tournament," Gigliotti said. "That's definitely my will to win. I know how good I can be, and my hunger to win is insatiable."

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