Howell High School’s wrestling program has been in John Gagliano’s blood since he was a teenager. He was a district and region champion for the Rebels during the 1980s, bringing home his fair share of hardware when Howell was a good program, but not a powerhouse.
That has all changed since Gagliano became the head coach at his alma mater. Under Gagliano’s watch, Howell has won 18 division titles, including 15 straight from 2006-20, seven district team titles, three Shore Conference Tournament team championships and, in 2014, its first state sectional title. Tuesday was Gagliano’s day in the spotlight, though, as he became the first coach in Shore Conference history to win 500 matches with a 69-9 victory over Piscataway High School.
To put Gagliano’s win total in perspective, Howell had won just six division titles and six district titles before he took over as the program’s head coach. Howell has also achieved overwhelming success on the individual level with Gagliano leading the charge, with the Rebels boasting 84 district champions, 22 region champions and 23 NJSIAA state place-winners over the last 24 years.
Howell recently concluded its regular season slate with a 9-1 record. With three returning state qualifiers entering the postseason, the Rebels have the chance to dominate at the state individual level, with Gagliano once again at the forefront of it all.