Father Judge graduate Joey Galasso bringing grit, determination and work ethic to the mats at Cornell University
By Joe Mason
Some might look at a stress fracture in your foot as a major injury.
Joey Galasso looks at things much differently.
“Right now, I’m at my healthiest since high school,” said Galasso, who is wearing a boot to heal the injury. “I feel great. I can’t work out because of the foot, but other than that, I feel great. I haven’t felt this good since I was at Judge.”
Galasso, a 2014 graduate of Father Judge High School, is now starring at Cornell. Wrestling at a high level in college isn’t easy, and because of the way he wrestles, Galasso is always nursing bumps and bruises.
It’s that style of wrestling, along with his will, that has led him to so much success.
At Judge, he won a state championship as a junior, lost in the finals as a senior and took fifth as a sophomore. He ended high school with a 147–13 record and three district championships, and was a two-time All-American. He finished fourth at the National Prep Championships as a freshman at Malvern Prep.
But those wins weren’t a result of picture-perfect technique. They were a result of being a grinder. Galasso earned every accomplishment he had because it was the only way he would be successful.
“I’m not the fastest guy and I don’t have a lot of God-given talent, I think anyone will tell you that,” the Port Richmond native said. “I’m very strong, but the reason I win is because I outwork people. That’s what’s so great about wrestling — the more you put into it, the better you do.
“I’m very physical, and that takes its toll. I’m not just beating the guy I’m wrestling up, I’m beating myself up, too. I’m always hurting somewhere.”
Perhaps the stress fracture in the foot was a blessing in disguise.
This summer, Galasso spends his weekdays at his internship at QualTek USA and his weekends down the Shore. And at all times, he’s resting his body and getting better.
He wears a boot to protect the stress fracture, but other than that, he feels great, which is surprising considering the long list of injuries he’s racked up while racking up victories on the mat.
Twice, he tore the MCL in his knee. Last year, he wrestled with a stress fracture in his foot on the same leg he was dealing with a torn MCL.
During his senior year at Judge, he finished second in the state with a broken bone in his back.
Injuries are a part of the game, and Galasso’s mentality has always been to work through them and, more importantly, win through them.
“I really don’t worry about the injuries, the only thing I worry about is winning,” said Galasso, who is headed into his junior season at the Ivy League school. “Some guys love to win, but I hate to lose. Some guys lose and then go home and go to sleep. I can’t do that. I hate losing. I’m always worried about losing. I just won’t accept it, I hate losing.”
It’s a good thing he’s so successful.
At Cornell, where Galasso routinely goes up against the best wrestlers in college, Galasso went 11–7 last year despite constantly battling injuries. He started out 6–0, and one of his victories was an 11–3 decision over Davion Jeffries, an Oklahoma wrestler who was ranked 13th in the nation.
During his freshman year, he was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and was first-team All-Ivy, going 7–0 against league competition. He notched 21 wins, guided Cornell to the Ivy League championship and competed at the NCAA championships.
As well as he wrestled in his first two seasons, Galasso believes he’s on the verge of even bigger things.
Not only has Galasso recovered from injuries he suffered on the mat, he was stabbed at the end of his senior year at Judge.
The attack was the main reason he decided to redshirt his freshman year, and while he’s starting to feel better, it wasn’t the type of injury you bounce back from.
One of the men and two friends who stabbed Galasso were sentenced to two to five years in prison. Two others are awaiting sentencing.
“That definitely was a huge setback,” Galasso said. “It takes a lot to recover from that. And last year, I had to deal with the trial, which took away from things. I’m feeling better from that, though, I guess I’m 100 percent. I am.”
He also feeling stronger.
It requires a lot of energy to wrestle, and it’s even tougher when you’re trying to cut weight. Last year, Galasso, who walks around at 164 pounds in the summer, wrestled at 149. This year, he anticipates wrestling at 157 pounds, which means he won’t have to cut as much for the year.
“Wrestling is hard, and when you have to skip a meal or stay away from water, it affects you,” Galasso said. “I couldn’t drop much more. The biggest thing was I couldn’t study. You can cut weight, but you can’t cut too much. I hope to go up, that will help me.”
With injuries and the trial behind him, Galasso is poised for a great junior year, and he is also starting to think about the future.
His №1 priority is wrestling for Cornell, but he’s starting to think about wrestling for the national team, with hopes of eventually making the Olympic team.
But there’s also the possibility of professional fighting.
North Catholic graduate Eddie Alvarez was a standout high school wrestler who ended up winning the UFC Lightweight Championship, and that’s certainly an avenue Galasso could go down.
“I love watching that, and I love watching Eddie,” Galasso said. “I think I’ll definitely look into that. I don’t know if I’ll be knocking people out or tech-falling Russians. But I think before I get into my career, I’ll have to consider these things.”
Alvarez isn’t his only inspiration from the neighborhood.
Galasso had two great coaches growing up. The first is his dad, who, along with his mom, is his biggest fan.
The other is Jim Savage, the coach of the Crusaders.
“Coach Savage is the second-best coach I ever had after my dad,” Galasso said. “If you want to work, he’ll do anything for you. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to want to wrestle and work. If you do that, he’ll have all the time in the world for you.
“My dad was a football player growing up at Frankford. He got tapes about wrestling to learn how to coach me. He knew a little bit because he wrestled for two weeks in high school before his mom told him to do better in school. But he was the guy who taught me everything. My parents are very supportive.”