Darien two-sport star Gesualdi to play lacrosse and football for Hobart College
Updated 3:02 pm, Thursday, January 10, 2013
That's because the two-sport standout will be playing both Division-I lacrosse and Division-III football for Hobart College, a rare feat for even top high school athletes.
Gesualdi is attending the same college as his father, and the opportunity to play both sports was a key selling point.
"I got in contact with the coaches and went up for my visit and met with both of them," Gesualdi said. "They were both really supportive of me playing both sports. I met some of the players and the campus was great up there."
According to Darien lacrosse coach Jeff Brameier, Gesualdi's speed and athleticism should translate well to the college lacrosse field.
"What jumps out with him is overall athleticism and speed. He's a very tough, hard-nosed kid, and that also shows on the football field and college coaches look for that as well," Brameier said. "He has a tremendous amount of athleticism, and they figure that's going to continue to blossom."
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Gesualdi closed out his high school football career as the school's all-time leading scorer by amassing 178 total points during his three-year varsity career, but his senior season wasn't without adversity, as he missed four games (and a good chunk of a fifth game) with a sprained ankle.
"It was definitely tough for those first few games knowing I couldn't go out with my teammates and help out the team," Gesualdi said. "When I did come back, I wanted to make as much of an impact as I could."
After sitting out Darien's season-opening 41-7 win over Fairfield Ludlowe with the sprained ankle, Gesualdi played sparingly the following week, a 44-21 win over Fairfield Warde. But the Blue Wave's preseason hopes of competing for an FCIAC and state championship were dealt a major blow when their star running back and senior captain re-sprained his ankle in a different area against Warde and missed the next three games.
Gesualdi could only watch as his Blue Wave teammates started the season at 3-2, severely damaging -- if not eliminating -- their chances of competing for championships. The two losses occurred in overtime in Week 3 at home against St. Joseph (35-28) and at Trumbull in Week 5 (39-26).
Gesualdi was in eighth grade when he met Darien High football coach Rob Trifone, and Trifone was quickly impressed.
"It was during a quarterback/receiver clinic being run during the winter. We were using a pitching machine that throws footballs as hard as you want, and he was as good as any of the varsity players we had at catching the ball at a high speed," Trifone recalled. "Right then and there, you could see that he was exceptionally talented and that he had great hand-eye coordination."
Gesualdi made his return to the lineup on Oct. 19 at Wilton, a 34-7 victory for the Blue Wave.
"As soon as he stepped onto the field in Wilton, he made a difference," Trifone said. "He wasn't at 100 percent, but he had some catches and made some plays on defense."
The win over Wilton was immediately followed by a 63-28 loss against Staples, but the Wave won their next two games against Trinity Catholic (26-20) and Bassick (48-20), setting the stage for the season-ending Turkey Bowl at home against New Canaan on Thanksgiving, a game which the Blue Wave hadn't won since 2001 -- when Gesualdi was 6 years old.
"(Beating New Canaan) definitely means a lot. Growing up we would hear about us losing to New Canaan year after year," Gesualdi said. "This was my final senior year game against them, and I was really getting tired of it. We worked hard all week and got the job done."
New Canaan scored the contest's first 14 points, but Darien climbed back into the game and eventually claimed a 36-23 victory thanks in large part to Gesualdi hauling in four passes for 64 yards while adding another 25 yards on eight carries and making five tackles on defense.
"Most definitely, the Turkey Bowl win this year (was the top football moment) and probably No. 2 is the (2010) FCIAC Championship win (over Trumbull)," Gesualdi said.
In his three years as a varsity football player, Gesualdi was part of the 2010 FCIAC championship team, made the Hearst Newspapers All-State team in 2011 and made the FCIAC First Team in 2011 and 2012.
"Peter has incredible field sense. Not only is he fast and athletic, but he has the ability to see the field," Trifone said. "All the great running backs and receivers have that where they can decide where they'll weave in and out. It enabled him to be the three-year starter that he was."
For his career, Gesualdi racked up 227 carries for 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns, as well as 59 receptions for 1,004 yards and 13 touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Gesualdi picked off 10 passes while making 55 tackles as a defensive back.
While his high school football career might have come to a close with the final buzzer of his team's win over New Canaan, Gesualdi has one more season as a key defensive midfielder of the defending state champion Class M lacrosse team. Gesualdi and company clinched the title with another win over New Canaan, 11-5 in the title game.
Brameier, who also coached Gesualdi's father, is excited to have him back for one more run at FCIAC and state glory.
"He obviously plays a very important role on our defense and on our faceoff. He comes in on the wing on faceoffs and did some tremendous things for us," Brameier said. "As a sophomore, he was a contributor, and last year he was a major contributor. I'm sure he'll be an even bigger impact player this year than he was last year."
Naturally, expectations are high for the perennial FCIAC favorite, and Gesualdi sounds intent on making sure that he and his senior teammates go out on top.
"We're always looking to win states and FCIAC championships," Gesualdi said. "Definitely nothing less."
Overall, Gesualdi anticipates his two sports being more "fast-paced" at Hobart.
"It's definitely going to be more fast-paced. There are a lot more practices, a lot more workouts," Gesualdi said. "But I think I'll be able to handle it because my (high school) coaches have been preparing me for the next level."
Gesualdi isn't locked into a major at Hobart just yet, but indicated that he's giving consideration to business economics.
In the meantime, Gesualdi is looking forward to the start of his senior season of lacrosse, particularly those games against out-of-state rivals.
"Playing those out-of-state games against teams like Manhasset, St. Anthony's and Torrey Pines is big," Gesualdi said. "Manhasset is starting to become a rivalry and these are big games for us to win to get our national rankings up."
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