Staff Sgt. DePatto hopes it's his time at Olympic wrestling trials
DePatto, one of six wrestlers on the Marine Corps team based aboard Camp Lejeune to make the trials, has the experience — he was fifth in the 2008 trials — and ability to claim first in the trials and earn a trip to the London Olympics, Hicks said.
“DePatto, he’s been with us for awhile. His time is here. DePatto needs to do something,” Hicks said during a recent interview. “He’s one of the better wrestlers in the trials. He’s just got to put it all together.”
Donovan, a native of Monticello, Minn., who’s been in the Marines for nine years “and some change,” earned a trip to the trials after making it to the semifinals at the nationals. He believes the experience he’s gained the last four years, including the 2008 trials, should help him this time around.
“You’ve been going to tournaments your whole life, but this one’s a whole different atmosphere. I know they’ve already sold out, which is the first time at this arena. So there’s going to be a lot of noise going on in there. But it’ll help a lot,” he said.
The key for him to win, DePatto said, was simple: Stay focused.
“Take one match at a time, good or bad, and then the ultimate picture is get on the Olympic team, be the No. 1 spot,” he said. “But if you can get on the U.S. national team (and) that guy gets injured, you’re the next guy on the ladder to be the Olympics. So you just got to stay focused and do as best as you possibly can.”
DePatto, who said he’s been wrestling since he was “like in kindergarten,” was a four-time state high school championship qualifier whose lineage includes a father and twin brother who were New Jersey state champions.
“So it’s all in the family,” he said.
DePatto also played football in high school, but he said wrestling is his sport because it “just helped me grow as a person.”
“You’ve got to have a lot discipline. It’s how you pick up rank. I think that’s why, and the places you get to go,” he said. “I’ve been to some of the wonders of the world. You talk to a lot of people back from where I’m from and they haven’t been out of the state hardly, and I was able to travel the world.”
He also likes the mentality it takes to be a wrestler.
“Wrestlers are warriors. They have a different mindset. It’s kind of like a Marine vs. just a regular person that works a job. It’s a whole different mindset and there’s only a few that can do it,” he said.
Sort of like only a few will go on to make the Olympics from the trials, which begin Saturday. DePatto is obviously hoping he’ll be one of the few — again.
“It’s in the air,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”