Former Saint wrestling national champion and two-sport All America Ron "Luca" Pelligra '76 died Sunday in Syracuse after being stricken by a heart attack earlier this year.
A 1987 inductee into the Saint Athletic Hall of Fame, Pelligra was a successful attorney in Syracuse and has remained a strong supporter of both St. Lawrence's athletic programs and the University as a whole.
He became St. Lawrence's first "official" NCAA wrestling champion when he won the 1976 heavyweight championship. He was the first Saint athlete to win an NCAA championship, followed two weeks later by members of the men's swim team. Often taking on much bigger wrestlers during an outstanding mat career, he dominated the heavyweight class, setting records for pins. He defeated 375-pound Erland van LichtdeJude for the Division III title. He went on to wrestle in the NCAA Division I Championships in Arizona, losing to Bob Golic, a two-sport All America at Notre Dame, 5-3 in the first round. He compiled a 93-7-1 record in four years, going 38-2 as a senior.
Pelligra was a two-sport All America as a senior as he also earned that honor as a defensive tackle in football. A key player in the Saints' rise to football prominence in the 1970s, he earned all league and All ECAC honors as one of the team's top tacklers during his career.