Highland resident Danny DeVivo wrestled to an 8-4 record while competing in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle categories at last weekend's Junior National championships at St. Paul, Minn.
The youngest member of the Maryland Junior Team at age 15, DeVivo's 6-2 slate in the freestyle competition left him just one match shy of gaining All-American status in a weight class made up of 110 wrestlers. A wrestler must finish among in the top eight to be considered an All-American.
"I felt real good about the way I wrestled," said DeVivo (154 pounds), who went 2-2 in Greco-Roman, which emphasizes upper body wrestling. "I opened up a lot more, I'm happy, but not satisfied."
Overall, the Maryland team accumulated 62 victories -- more than any other state team had ever achieved. Two wrestlers, two-time Class 2A-1A state champ Grant Johnson (165, Owings Mills) and two-time Class 4A-3A state champion Mike Jenson (178, Randallstown) placed seventh and eighth overall.
But for DeVivo, an Mount St. Joseph sophomore, the effort was third best on the squad,which included 18 high school state champions, five Maryland Scholastic Association champions and one National Prep tournament champ.
He won his first six matches, including victories over state champions from Nebraska, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Kansas, before being edged, 5-4, by two-time Greco-Roman champion Damon McPherson of Oregon, the eventual runner-up.
"I was giving [McPherson] no respect. At one point, I was up, 4-3, and I was on a roll," said DeVivo. "But he got two late takedowns and won. Then I lost my next match pretty badly about a half-hour later. My muscles were cramping up, but no excuses, I lost."
Earlier this month, DeVivo captured his second straight Cadet All-American honors by placing second in the Cadet Freestyle Grand Nationals and eighth in the Greco-Roman competition in Columbia, Mo. He also won the Greco-Roman and freestyle East Coast qualifier in June.
As a 145-pound freshman, DeVivo posted a 37-6 record, including an MSA runner-up finish, a Chesapeake tournament crown and a third-place finish in the National Prep tournament. He was also an honorable-mention All-Metro selection in The Baltimore Sun.
"He's fantastic. A superstar. He's the future of wrestling in this state," said Cornell Bass, coordinator with the Maryland State Wrestling Association.
Other countians participating were Oakland Mills' two-time Class 4A-3A heavyweight state champion Monte Spencer (220 pounds), his former Oakland Mills teammate and three-time county champion Adam Seidman (132) and Sykesville resident Kevin Neville (154), an MSA champion who enters his senior season at Mount St. Joseph this fall.
Spencer posted a 3-2 freestyle record, while Neville went 5-2 in Greco-Roman. Both Neville and Seidman were winless in their two freestyle bouts.
"I was just one match away from placing, but I hurt my ribs in my first match, and it really started bothering me in my fifth match," said Spencer, whose weight class boasted 46 wrestlers. "I wish I could have done better, but I'm happy."
Neville followed a surprisingly good Greco-Roman effort with a disappointing outing in the freestyle category. He injured his ankle in losing his first freestyle match against the eventual repeat champion, Oklahoma's Jacob Newby, and was unable to finish his second and final bout.