Mt. St. Joseph will be tough to match again

December 10, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

The general feeling in Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference wrestling this season, as in most, is that there's 18-time champion Mount St. Joseph -- then there's the rest.

The top-ranked Gaels, who opened the season two weeks ago by crushing the 17-team field in the Maryland Catholic Invitational at Curley, take aim at tomorrow's Annapolis Tournament.

Coach Paul Triplett, ending a recent discussion of his team with, "relatively speaking, we're pretty young," is doing his best to maintain a low profile -- if that's still possible.

Triplett's youngsters, however, might be the team's best assets, with junior Danny DeVivo (171 pounds), ranked No. 2 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association, and fifth-ranked sophomore Tyran Dungee (135). Each is a returning MSA champ.

Sophomore Jake Lissau (112) and top-ranked senior Paul Scott (140) were MSA runners-up, sixth-ranked junior David Inkman (130) took third and senior Seth St. Vincent (160) fourth. Veteran senior Russell Fecteau (125) placed third in the Maryland Invitational.

What concerns Triplett is the absence of marquee seniors, such as All-Metro graduates Kevin Neville (171) and Dave Sunderland -- both two-time MSA champs.

"I think we'll have good senior leadership out of Paul, Seth and Scott," said Triplett. "But with the mixture of people we have, it's still kind of hard to get a handle on how they'll react" to the pressure of maintaining the Mount St. Joseph tradition. So they're young chronologically, but their season-opening effort at Curley was the stuff of veterans -- including a runner-up finish by freshman Dan Mattson (119).

"From what I saw at the Catholic tournament, St. Joe's is just so solid," said Dennis Frazier, whose Loyola Dons were 6-4 last year.

Frazier's best wrestler, Jason Gibson (125-130), already has beaten Fecteau and is 4-0 with two pins after winning the Maryland Invitational. Nick Hollick (135) placed fourth in the MSAs. Dave Miller (152) amassed 17 wins last year and took fourth in the Maryland Invitational.

"We don't have a Dave Daniecki or a Tim Spielman [both former two-time MSA champs], but we've got solid guys in every weight class," Frazier said.

"I think we have a pretty good team with all but one weight class filled, so we can do pretty well against just about everybody else."

Everybody else includes No. 14 Boys' Latin and No. 6 Gilman, last year's dual-meet runner-up and third-place finishers, respectively.

Mount St. Joseph, which has a 34-match unbeaten streak against in-state teams, was nearly derailed last year by Boys' Latin before winning, 32-27. It was the Lakers' only loss during a season in which they finished ranked No. 8 in the area at 11-1.

Though plenty of talent returns, Lakers coach Jim Currie and assistant Drew Haugh have lost key upper weights to graduation -- not to mention assistant coach Ryan McClernan, who has become an assistant at Mount St. Joseph.

"We graduated seven seniors, but we have the potential to be competitive. We'll just have to be more creative to win matches," said Currie. "With some of our injuries and problems with ineligibility,we'll have only 10 weight classes filled on a good day."

The emphasis of the Lakers' attack will be the MSA runner-up Harrison twins, Ashley (119, 21 pins) and Mike (125, 24), along with fifth-ranked Erik Fitez (152), who was third in last year's MSA tournament.

Tim Berger (135-140), had 18 pins and placed fourth in the MSAs, but may not return until January from an elbow injury. Mike Cangemi (145) notched 22 victories last year and adds strength to the middleweights.

Gilman, coming off last year's 7-3 campaign, appears to have the most depth to challenge the Gaels.

The Greyhounds return six key starters, including 21-bout winner Jamie Biddison (189) and 20-bout winners Arman Taghizadeh (112) and Allen West (119). Four junior-league place-winners bolster the lineup, including former state champs Maakan Taghizadeh (103) and Greg Plitt (145), and Kirk Caldroney (140), who was third in the junior leagues.

Gilman lost MSA champ Gerard Harrison (119) and runner-up heavyweight David Shapiro to graduation, but the Greyhounds already have used their firepower in overwhelming Bullis, 52-9, and Gonzaga, 63-3. "We have a nice lineup, with a blend of experienced seniors and up-and-coming wrestlers," said Gilman coach Chris Legg.

Not to be overlooked, however, are McDonogh and St. Paul's. And Poly, Calvert Hall, John Carroll and Southwestern -- the Sabers are up from the B Conference -- boast individual talent.

McDonogh's third-ranked sophomore J. R. Plienis (189) was third in last year's MSA tournament and Dunbar transfer Martius Harding (160-171), also ranked No. 3, was a 1A-2A state runner-up.

The Eagles also return Dave Trudil (125), who was third in the MSAs, and transfer Mickey Moore (103), who was ranked No. 6 as a Pennsylvania junior leaguer last year.

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