Joe Peritore was a standout high school wrestler for Hall of Fame coach Mike Milkovich at Maple Heights, Ohio, High School in the early 1960s. He was a three-time Greater Cleveland conference champion and twice won the Ohio high school regional and state championships.
Upon graduation from Maple Heights, Peritore entered the School of Engineering at Lehigh University in September of 1963. Limited by NCAA rules to just three years of varsity wrestling, Peritore was a key member of Coach Gerry Leeman’s ‘Terrific Trio’ of Mike Caruso, Peritore and Billy Stuart leading off the matches for the Engineers.
During his sophomore campaign, Peritore finished the dual meet season undefeated. He placed 3rd in the EIWA tournament, being upset by Army’s Bob Steenlage in overtime in the semi-finals. At the NCAA meet at Cornell, Peritore advanced to the 130-pound finals, only to lose to Japan’s Olympic champion from Oklahoma State, Yojiro Uetake.
In 1966, Peritore was again undefeated in duals and won his first EIWA tournament by defeating his nemesis Steenlage, 3-2 in the finals. He once again ran into OSU’s Uetake in the NCAA finals at 130 and settled for the runner-up trophy. As a senior, Peritore won the EIWA crown and finished 3rd in the NCAA championships.
The Engineers won the EIWA conference team championship his last two seasons. Peritore’s career record at Lehigh was 56-5-1.