St. Paul’s Planta trying to join an elite group
Standout at 126 pounds would be the sixth to win four MIS championships Statistics aside, ground game is working into shape at just the right moment
It’s an illustrious group of five wrestlers, including the state’s all-time wins leader and a three-time NCAA All-American, who have a combined 1,018 victories.
St. Paul’s senior Daniel Planta hopes to be next.
Planta, a three-time Maryland Independent Schools champion, could become the sixth wrestler to win four MIS titles.
“I figured it would be something like that. It’s hard to do and obviously it would
With the high school winter season set to begin, our sport-by-sport previews continue today with wrestling. See PG 4 for polls and wrestlers to watch. Boys and girls basketball will run Friday. be pretty cool,” Planta said of joining DeMatha’s Mike Rowe, Mount Saint Joseph’s Mack Lewnes, Bishop McNamara’s Alfred Bannister, McDonogh’s Josh Fitch and St. Paul’s Eric Friedman as four-time private school state champions. “I remember my dad, back in my freshman year after my first year winning it, he said, ‘That’s your first one on your path to four, but you
Terrance West wasn’t going there. The Ravens had just beaten the Cincinnati Bengals to move into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. Anything beyond that, including a question Sunday about whether the coaching staff showed enough commitment to the run game against the Bengals, was irrelevant to him.
“Whether we ran the ball or didn’t run the ball, we came away with the win,” West said. “So let’s keep it positive and keep it going.” As the Ravens prepare for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium, the key players in their running game — including emerging rookie Kenneth Dixon — aren’t consumed by what has or hasn’t happened through the season’s first 11 games. They’re not hung up on the team’s poor NFL ranking Daniel Planta, a three-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro first-team selection, is ranked No. 16 in the country at 126 pounds by InterMat and is committed to Penn.
have to go one at a time.’ That’s kind of the thought process I’ve had.”
Planta, who is ranked No. 16 in the country at 126 pounds by InterMat and is committed to Penn, has a long list of accomplishments on and off the mat. The three-time first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection is 143-20 in his career and has wonthree Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association titles. He has also won Maryland State Wrestling Association Freestyle state titles and been named to the association’s all-academic team the past three years.
But even first-year coach Rob Eiter knows how special it would be for his senior leader to be the 11th wrestler, public and private, in Maryland high school wrestling to win four state titles.
Aberdeen’s Matt Slutzky, Owings Mills’ Steve Kessler, Hereford’s Josh Asper, Southern- Garrett’s George Scheffel and Centennial’s Nathan Kraisser all won four public school state championships.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t know there were only a handful of guys to do that,” said Eiter, a 1996 Olympian and former head coach at Penn and assistant at Maryland. “I’ll explain it to him — that might not be a big deal to Daniel, but it will be looking back, to put his name in the record books and be in that class of Maryland athletes. It would be special for him and will be something five or 10 years from now he can look back on and say, ‘That was pretty cool.’ ”
Despite all the success on the state level, Planta has yet to make a major splash on the national stage. He hopes to change that this season and make a run at winning titles at the Beast of the East, Powerade and National Preps tournaments — three of the toughest in the country.
“I want to place better at some of those tournaments. Winning MIAA and MIS states are obviously goals, since I’ve done that the last three years, and Preps is another big goal since it’s at the end of the year,” said Planta, who has placed third twice and sixth last year at National Preps. “This year I know I have a legitimate shot at making the finals, if not winning it. I really want to make a good showing there since it’s going to be my last go-around.”
Planta isn’t the only Crusader with high aspirations this winter. Kurt McHenry and Dale Tiongson both won MIAA and MIS titles last year and finished in the top three at National Preps in their weight classes. Planta thinks the key to his and his teammates’ success this season could be their new coach.
“I think through my first three years at St. Paul’s we had some really solid coaches, but I think having Coach Eiter ... it’s a whole [new] level,” he said.
No. 3 St. Paul’s begins its regular season Saturday at the Skyline Tournament in Virginia and will host Boys’ Latin and No. 1 Mount Saint Joseph on Monday.
Terrance West Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon, gaining a first down Sunday against the Bengals, has averaged more than 5 yards per carry over his past three games.
Daniel Planta would be the 11th Maryland wrestler, counting public as well as private schools, to win four state championships. “To be honest with you, I didn’t know there were only a handful of guys to do that,” his coach, Rob Eiter, said.