Out of the wake left by such impressive performers as state champions Frank Schaede, James Kirby and Jeff Richardson in Robinson's illustrious wrestling annals, one name seems destined to rise above all others. i
"Bob DeProspero is certainly the best one I've ever had in overall terms," said John Epperly, the long-time coach of Robinson's program. "He has intelligence, ability and the drive to make himself better; he's a leader in all ways, an example for everyone who aspires to be successful in this sport or in life as a whole."
Now a senior, the 112-pounder is aiming at his third consecutive state championship next month. His high school record stands at 64-0 and includes Virginia state titles at 98 pounds as a sophomore and 105 pounds as a junior. He finished fourth in the U.S. Wrestling Federation national tournament in Iowa City.
Even those who are not convinced DeProspero can succeed as well in college next year admit he has an enviable record in national tournaments. "When you finish fourth in the nationals in Iowa City, it's hard to be too critical," said a local college coach.
"Even so, I think I've seen better come out of this area, guys like John Hanrahan (Falls Church) or Eric Heinonen (Lee). To me, Bobby is an exceptional high school wrestler, but I don't know that he'll make it at Oklahoma or Iowa."
DeProspero pointed out that he was leading Oklahoma's four-time world champion, David Flores, 7-4, in the finals of the tryouts for the U.S. world team when he broke his leg in Colorado Springs this summer.
"I disagree with those who say I can't make it at a big-name wrestling school," said the four-time Eastern national freestyle champion and the current AAU national 115-pound freestyle champion.
DeProspero's father, Robert, who wrestled at West Virginia University, has been a big factor in Bobby's development.
"I don't have the natural talent of some people," Bobby DeProspero admitted, "but my father and I have learned how to take advantage of what I can do. Everything I do is set up by something else . . . to hit a move successfully, it must be set up."
He hopes to attend Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin or one of the other wrestling powers.
"If some of the programs closer to home could offer the things one finds in the Midwest, then I'd like to stay here so my parents could see me wrestle," DeProspero said. "But Maryland and the other teams in the area don't have the competition which it takes to become a national champion. And besides, Iowa and Oklahoma have probably the two best freestyle club programs in the country."
Regardless of whether DeProspero heads west or goes to Penn State or North Carolina State, one thing seems sure -- his intensity will not diminish. "Ever since I won the state championship as a sophomore, the thing that has scared me is the thought of losing by one point and looking back and wondering if I had worked hard enough in preparation."
He drives himself hard, working with heavier teammates, wrestling at home on weekends with people from other schools and colleges.
As successful as he has been, DeProspero said, he wonders some times why he goes through the routine.
"Especially with my weight," admitted DeProspero, who cut 16 pounds to make 112 this year. "I get depressed. I know, for instance, I could do better in school if I didn't put so much time in wrestling. But one day, I hope I'll know it was worth it."