Mount St. Joe's Neville a kingpin

February 05, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

In wrestling, the term "fish" isn't complimentary.

"I guess it's someone who just kind of flops around [on the mat]," said Mount St. Joseph coach Paul Triplett.

In short: It's a wrestler who isn't very good.

And West Friendship resident Kevin Neville, Triplett's top wrestler, has been catching a lot of 152-pounders as the Maryland State Wrestling Association's top-ranked competitor in that weight class.

Against No. 7 Boys' Latin two weeks ago, Neville (23-2, 13 pins) notched another pin against the Lakers' Chris Smith, who was third in last year's Maryland Scholastic Association tournament. Wrestling with a 102-degree fever on Tuesday, Neville moved up to 189 pounds and won, 6-3, over McDonogh's 15-time national champion, J. R. Plienis.

Neville hasn't lost to a state wrestler in two seasons.

He dropped two decisions at the California (Pa.) University tournament last month, including 8-6 to the two-time champ from West Virginia, en route to placing fourth.

"Kevin and I both feel he could have done a lot better," Triplett said. "It's a well-established, very tough tournament, and he knows a lot of wrestling people don't give Maryland much respect. He knows that wrestling well there, he can wrestle with anybody."

Early on, such as at the Annapolis tournament, there were a couple of 152-pounders who gave Neville a battle. In a weight class that included Randallstown's state champion, Johnny Montgomery, Neville hooked Old Mill's fifth-ranked Todd Hultgren, 10-3, in the semifinals, before winning the title bout, 10-3, over McDonough's (Calvert) second-ranked Chris Hawkins.

"I pretty much beat up Hultgren and Hawkins. Those were confidence boosters," said Neville, who flattened the host team's state champion Chip Cochran a year ago. "Other than those, I haven't really had a tough match at 152."

Neville, a defending Maryland Scholastic Association champion, three times tested the waters as a 189-pounder, including a first-period pin and a forfeit. Now, he's switching again. "I'm going to 171," Neville said. For Neville, the premier threat to his second MSA title appears to be St. Mary's Scott Thompson (22-3, 10 pins), who recently dropped from the heavyweight ranks.

Last weekend, Thompson beat another contender in Poly's Rashaad Kitchen, who was third in the MSAs a year ago. Two MSA runners-up, Boys' Latin's Chris Smith (15-5) and Gilman's Jamie Biddison, also will be threats.

Today, he could meet another face in the crowd, Loyola's Al DiPietro, a recent winner of a tough Smithsburg High Invitational.

"Those guys are pretty tough wrestlers at 171," Neville said. "BuI want to be known as one of Maryland's best wrestlers -- that's why I'm doing it."

Neville ran into a fighter in a quad-meet at Bullis in Montgomery County, earning a 6-4 overtime decision over Riverdale Baptist's Greg David, the MSWA's No. 2-ranked 171-pounder. "It was a mutual decision, and he was excited about the idea of going after their big gun, David. He welcomed the challenge," said Triplett, whose Gaels were the MSWA's No. 2 team behind Riverdale Baptist entering the 42-21 win.

Neville led David, 4-1, until late in the third period before David scored a takedown and received a stalling point to force the overtime.

When David slipped behind Neville in overtime and hoisted him in the air, the crafty Gaels' grappler calmly countered by tying up David's leg with his own.

Then, as David tried to lower him to the mat, Neville slipped away, faced his opponent, grabbed David's firmly planted right ankle and forced him over for the winning score.

"Kevin won, proving he didn't have to just muscle 152-pounders," Triplett said. "He's very confident, with a pretty good understanding of what he can do. I don't think I've ever seen him where he thought he couldn't win."

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