Danny Mattson wore a Mount St. Joseph wrestling jacket to a Sherwood High football game this past fall that got the attention of the Montgomery County school's wrestling coach.
"Baltimore's a long way for a kid to drive," said coach Scott Beattie, a Montgomery County champ at Northwood High in 1979. "You're a quality wrestler, and Montgomery County can use another state champ."
But Mattson, a second-team All-Metro choice last season, has grown used to such exchanges since choosing to attend the Baltimore wrestling power, although he lives in Montgomery County.
He commutes 45 minutes-to-an hour to and from the Catholic boys school on Frederick Avenue, while his childhood buddies wrestle for nearby Magruder, the public school district in which he lives.
A best friend is Sherwood's heavyweight state champ Graham Manley, whom Mattson, a senior, watched lead the Warriors to two Class 4A football state titles.
"I've known Danny since about fourth grade. We grew up going to a lot of the same junior league tournaments," said Manley, who wrestled for Wheaton's beltway program -- a rival to Mattson's Olney Mat Club.
"We hang out a lot. He probably came to half of our [football] games this year. He even dated a Sherwood cheerleader for a long time," Manley continued. "Danny and I don't talk about it much, but Sherwood's wrestling team would give St. Joe a good match."
St. Joe's is a good match for Mattson (38-7, 19 pins last year at 140 pounds), a defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion whose lone loss to a Maryland wrestler -- by 3-2 to DeMatha's National Prep runner-up Billy Phillips -- came in last year's private schools' finals.
Mattson, who was fourth at last year's National Preps Tournament, carries a 3.65 grade average, scored 1,260 on his Scholastic Assessment Test, and is considering colleges such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania -- all factors he attributes to being at Mount St. Joseph.
"It's worked out great academically. I'm taking my sixth [advanced placement] course there, and my class rank is No. 6 of 228," said Mattson, who in college will major in bio- or chemical engineering. "On the wrestling side, the team's like a family. [Paul] Triplett's an incredible coach."
Last weekend at Curley, Mattson (4-0, three pins, while wrestling this season at 145 pounds) bounced Boys' Latin's Gary Colbert, 11-3, for his second straight Maryland Catholic Invitational tournament title and clinched the Gaels' four-point team victory over Maryland's No. 1-ranked team, DeMatha.
Mattson hoisted Colbert with a five-point throw -- called an "elevator" -- that Mike DeSarno hadn't seen since Mattson was on DeSarno's Olney Mat Club.
"He's always been a sound, technical wrestler who executed with snap and crispness," said DeSarno, in his 12th season with the club, which has produced three All-Metros -- Danny DeVivo, David Inkman and Kevin Neville -- at Mount St. Joseph. "But he was very impressive last weekend -- more physical than I've ever seen him."
But Danny "generally caught some heat down here" for choosing the Gaels, said his mother, Sherrie. Some felt Triplett had recruited him, but Mattson said, "I initiated everything and never got one phone call from St. Joe."
"My eighth-grade year, I saw every St. Joe tournament and match. I visited the school and loved it," Mattson said, "which is why I'm there. I'm glad I'm there."
Preseason Top 15
1. Owings Mills (No. 1 last season)
2. Mount St. Joseph (2)
3. Hammond (3)
4. Westminster (8)
5. Francis Scott Key (4)
6. Aberdeen (11)
7. Curley (6)
8. Arundel (7)
9. Boys' Latin (unranked)
10. Broadneck (14)
11. Northeast (10)
12. Kenwood (unranked)
13. North Carroll (unranked)
14. Old Mill (unranked)
15. Southwestern (15)
Pub Date: 12/06/96