Loyola's Daniecki steps on mat with new attitude

December 11, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

In describing his early days as a wrestler, Loyola's Dav Daniecki stops just short of calling himself a wimp.

"The first four or five years, I couldn't stand it. I constantly got beat on," said Daniecki, who first donned head gear when he was a third-grader. "But my friends and my parents kept pushing to do better. I attribute my success to all those years of wrestling and to my dad, Ted, who encouraged me when I wanted to quit. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today."

Where Daniecki is today is that he's the Maryland State Wrestling Association's third-ranked 189-pounder in a class that MSWA chairman Haswell Franklin calls "one of the two toughest in Maryland."

A first-team All-Metro pick last season, Daniecki has returned to the same weight class where he captured last year's Maryland Scholastic Association title and placed second in the National Prep tournament.

Like last year, when he compiled a 29-3 record with 11 of his 17 pins in the first period, Daniecki (7-1, five pins this year) still hits his moves with precision and executes intelligently.

Unlike last year, however, he no longer is satisfied just to get off the mat after shaky victories like his unimpressive 2-1 win over John Carroll's Jake Hollin in their MSA championship bout. "The new Dave Daniecki's a lot more physical, a lot more aggressive and a lot more move-oriented," said Daniecki, a B-student who scored nearly 1,000 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

"Recently, I've been visualizing myself going out there and hitting certain moves, doing certain things and I try to keep under control and not be spastic. I'm not all over the place just throwing something anywhere. I maintain posture and just hit the move when it's there. I've been just practicing hard and thinking of myself as a winner."

Up until a week ago, however, coach Dennis Frazier said Daniecki had a tendency to slip into his old habits -- like initiating the match with speed, power and guile, only to let it dwindle into a brawl or shoving match between two tired athletes.

"His matches up until a week ago were dependent on what he did in the first period," said Frazier. "If he was aggressive, he'd look good. If he wasn't, then he didn't look good."

In the season-opening Maryland Catholic Invitational Tournament at Curley, Daniecki scored two first-period pins to earn a long-awaited rematch with Riverdale Baptist's top-ranked Marcus Foran, only to lose, 3-1, in a disappointing effort.

Foran was the only Maryland wrestler to beat Daniecki last year, winning the Catholic tournament title, 7-1.

"I sort of let myself down and didn't push as hard as I should have against Foran," said Daniecki.

But Daniecki's most recent bout, Wednesday's 9-4 victory over Wilde Lake's fourth-ranked, three-time defending Howard County champion Nate Casella, was his most outstanding effort to date.

It pit Daniecki, a Division I-caliber defenseman in lacrosse, against Casella, The Baltimore Sun's Defensive Player of the Year in football.

OC Casella parried two Daniecki lunges -- once with both wrestlers

tumbling out of bounds -- before slipping behind Daniecki and dragging him down for a takedown and a 2-0 lead. An escape cut the deficit to 2-1.

Daniecki chose the top position to start the second period as the match grew increasingly more volatile. With 40 seconds left in the period, Casella was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, tying the bout at two.

"He tried to taunt me, but that just got me fired up," said Daniecki.

"I've been psyched up for a while for this because I heard he was pretty good. But I told myself I was going to go out there and just take it to him and not give him anything."

Casella went for the pin, but lost his balance, and Daniecki's reversal made it 4-2. A perfectly placed half nelson forced Casella to his back for a 7-2 lead.

"As the match grew on, he grew more tired and I grew stronger," said Daniecki. "I could see him start to crumble and just go downhill. Once I saw that, I just attacked him."

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