DeVivo aiming for perfection

January 29, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

With every victory for Mount St. Joseph wrestler Danny DeVivo, there is self-criticism, self-analysis.

Take, for example, last year's Annapolis Tournament title bout.

DeVivo, a true 160-pounder, was wrestling at 171 pounds. He overcame an early 5-4 deficit by scoring nine of 12 back points in the second period of a 23-6 technical-fall victory over Chris Brown, a state champ from McDonough in Charles County.

It was a display of dominance and talent by most standards -- except DeVivo's. All he talked about afterward was that he "got sloppy."

"Danny's a perfectionist, always looking to improve every performance," said coach Paul Triplett.

"He's like, 'I won that match, but what could I have done better?' Some might think he should be satisfied at times, but he's not."

Judging by his two most recent losses, it's going to be tough for the next guy -- whoever he is -- to beat DeVivo, a senior, in a high school wrestling match.

This year, DeVivo's only loss was 5-3 to a wrestler who was ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania and had won a Cadet national title the summer before. And it came via a takedown in the closing seconds with DeVivo wrestling on an injured ankle.

A year earlier, DeVivo's final setback of the season came in overtime to a Delaware state champ, who also was the high school national champ.

DeVivo is 21-1 this season with 11 pins and four technical falls. He's ranked No. 1 at 171 pounds although he's wrestled his past few matches, and plans to finish the season, at 160.

The Highland resident has far more wins (125) than defeats (14) over his four-year career, which includes a 64-match winning streak against Maryland opponents dating back to his freshman season.

And perhaps what pushes him best is his hatred of losing.

"Losses have to be taken hard, mostly as a motivator, but not to get down on yourself," said DeVivo, a two-time All-Metro and last year's Baltimore Sun All-Metro Wrestler of the Year.

"You have to be goal-oriented. You can never be satisfied. That's why my goal this year is to end as many of my matches as early as possible. When I do that, I know I've done my job."

The setbacks for DeVivo are few, particularly in Maryland.

His last loss in the state came during his freshman season by 4-2 as a Maryland Scholastic Association runner-up to Todd Helman of Friends. His streak began the next week with a 5-1 victory over Andy Smith of Loyola en route to a third-place finish in the National Preps.

During the streak, DeVivo has humbled the state's best. There is an overtime decision over Old Mill state champ Marc Proccacini, a major decision over St. Paul's MSA champ Pete Karvounis and a pin of Northeast state champ Al Grunder.

The streak includes two MSA titles, a runner-up finish in the National Preps as a sophomore and last year's first-place National Prep finish by a fall in 2:28 over Andrew Unterberg of St. Mark's.

DeVivo scored 1,080 on the Scholastic Assessment Test and has a 3.4 grade average. He favors the University of Pennsylvania or Harvard.

DeVivo also likes Navy and the universities of Virginia and Michigan, but calls and letters also come in from schools such as Clarion, Lehigh, Lock Haven and Drexel. But his immediate focus is on winning.

Another National Prep crown would make DeVivo the school's first two-time champion since Scott Shaw (145), who did it in 1989.

"The school's history wasn't an influence as much as the coaching and the workout partners. St. Joe has provided them like no other Howard County school could," said DeVivo, whose older brother, Richard, wrestled for Centennial and placed fourth in the states.

"I don't get caught up in leaving my mark at St. Joe. The person makes statistics, not the other way around."

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