When the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association wrestling tournament kicks off Thursday at Mount St. Joseph, McDonogh senior Kevin Marvel is facing his last chance to make his three-dimensional dream come true.
Ever since Marvel arrived at the school from his home in Easton he has strived to win an MIAA title, a Maryland Independent School title and a National Preps title.
Along with those personal goals, he wants to help No. 1 McDonogh win the MIAA and MIS team titles for the first time since 2008.
"He absolutely can do it," McDonogh coach Pete Welch said of his 195-pound starter, who is 36-3 this season and 132-39 for his career. "He's one of the best kids in the state. He'll face tough competition, but if he's healthy and focused he can do it."
Welch describes Marvel as being very agile and flexible with a style of wrestling that is often surprising.
"He's a scrambler," Welch said. "He does things that aren't supposed to work, but do for him. I'll be yelling, 'Don't do that, no, no' and then I yell, 'Ah great move!' He's very confident in what he does."
Marvel is a three-sport athlete. Besides wrestling, he also plays middle linebacker on McDonogh's football team and hurls the shot put and discus on the trackteam. He carries a 3.5 GPA and is being recruited by Maryland, Navy and Pennsylvania, among others.
Has wrestling always been your favorite sport?
My dad wrestled for Northeast High School. My older brother wrestled for Kent Island High. For a period of time, he had the most wins of anyone with 110. I've always just liked wrestling. I wanted to beat that 110 win record, but really, I just enjoy the workout, the teammates. And, it's fun to go out and beat someone. It shows all your hard work pays off. It also teaches life lessons, like determination.
You've played other sports. Does wrestling help you with those?
More the other way round. With football you lift weights. I played lacrosse for two years but changed to track and field last year because I felt I could get more benefit from it. I needed to get stronger, and with the shot put and discus, I am getting stronger. I can feel it.
Do you really like anything besides wrestling?
I'm a hunter and a fisherman. We go finishing a lot and crabbing. We can hunt in our back yard on our farm and we have a property in Dorchester County that we use for deer and ducks. I like deer, goose and duck hunting. I think goose hunting is my favorite because you can talk and be more social with your friends. It's more fun.
Do you do the hunting with your family?
It's been passed down through the years. My great, great grandfather was a waterman. I didn't know him, but I knew my great grandfather. He had the best stories of hunting and fishing. He could tell you the name of every creek and where the best fish were. I don't have too many stories, but I definitely go out to hunt and fish as much as I can with my family, and often it's with the friends I made at Matapeake Middle School. They're still my friends.
How did you wind up at McDonogh?
I really wasn't looking into privates. But I was wrestling junior league and [former McDonogh wrestler] Alex Pagnotta's dad saw me wrestle and told my family we should look into McDonogh. We contacted coach Welch and came to look and I loved it the moment I saw it.
What was there to love?
This school can unlock educational opportunities and wrestling opportunities. I'd never wrestled free style or Greco-Roman. Now I've wrestled at [the Junior Nationals tournament at] Fargo [N.D.] and finished 7th in freestyle and 8th in Greco. I'd never have had that opportunity if I hadn't come here. And we go to National Preps, I was sixth there last year. I really want to win a national title. MIAA and the MIS, they're part of the plan. They're the building blocks to my main goal. This year I've had three losses, two of them to Frank Mattace of Blair Academy, who is ranked No. 1. I've lost to him 3-1 and 3-2 in very good matches. The coaches have been watching film and giving me pointers to help my style. I just have to critique my style to his and score off him. If I can do that, it should give me the win.
You got experience in a big situation last week, during the showdown with No. 2 Archbishop Spalding, didn't you? (McDonogh was losing with two weight classes to go, before Marvel pinned his opponent to give the Eagles a three-point lead. In the final match of the night, freshman Wyatt Cook sealed the victory and clinched the regular season dual meet title for McDonogh.)
It was great to come through for my teammates and give us a lift. Now, it would be great for us to win the title my senior year. If everyone wrestles well, we should be able to win both the MIAA and the MIS. We have a very good dual team and even better tournament team.