Legendary Huntington High School wrestling coach Lou Giani has been named to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. He will be inducted during the organization's annual banquet on Wednesday, August 1 at the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George.
Giani is one of just seven individuals selected for induction this year and the only one from Suffolk County. The NYSPHSAA Hall of Fame is sponsored by Public Benefits Plan and Jostens.
Regarded by many as the greatest high school wrestling coach in state history, Giani is widely known as one of the top coaches in the country. The local legend was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 2003, one of just a handful of high school coaches to ever be so enshrined.
"As former high school wrestler and coach, 'Lou Giani' was and is synonymous with success in the sport," Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. "He brought wrestling to prominence in Huntington, where it remained for decades under his leadership. This honor is truly well deserved."
In addition to Giani, this year's NYSPHSAA Hall of Fame inductees include Syracuse area administrator/coach Richard Bader, Albany area coach Anthony Luciano, Westchester area coach Gina Maher, Rochester area administrator Judith Salerno and Farmingdale High School coach Donald Snyder. The honorees were chosen through a two-level selection process that consisted of screening and selection committees.
Giani graduated in with Huntington's Class of 1953. As a senior, he won the 141 lb. Suffolk wrestling championship and went on to capture the Pan Am Games gold medal and a spot on the freestyle U.S. Olympic team. He later earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at C.W. Post and Adelphi, respectively. For many years he served as a physical education teacher in the district.
Five of Giani's Huntington teams won New York State Intersectional Tournament championships. In 2002, Huntington became only the fourth team in the 43-year history of the state tournament up to that point to have three state champions in one year.
After a 19-year career with the Grumman Aerospace Corporation, during which Giani rose to Group Leader on the Lunar Escape Module (LEM) project for NASA, he took on teaching and coaching and left a trail of greatness. He was the first Suffolk County champion from Huntington High School, his son, Lou, Jr., was Huntington's first state champion and his youngest son, Joseph (now a Huntington assistant superintendent) was the school's first NCAA mat champion.
Giani's coaching accomplishments include:
- A career coaching mark in 40 seasons of 436-36-1.
- A league dual meet record of 230-15.
- A Suffolk record 188 All-County wrestlers.
- A state record 23 state champs and 53 all-state wrestlers.
- 28 undefeated seasons.
- Nine Suffolk County team championships.
- A Suffolk record 117 invitational tournament championships.
- A record 61 individual Suffolk County champions.
- Nine of his teams have won New York State championships. (Six state tournament – five public, one private - and three first place state poll rankings.)
- 63 state tournament qualifiers.
- Member, New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame.
- Member, Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame
On three separate occasions Giani has been chosen as the National High School Wrestling Coach of the Year, most recently in 2002 by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. In every single area of wrestling by which greatness is judged, Giani has produced impressive results.
Source: Huntington UFSD