Gael force: Triplett's Mount St. Joe knocks win out of foes

February 24, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

Paul Triplett eschews the limelight as coach of the area's premier wrestling program, Mount St. Joseph.

His laid-back approach has led to 25 individual Maryland Scholastic Association champions. Last weekend at Gilman, the Gaels secured their 19th MSA Tournament crown in the 74th and final event.

"Paul is sportsmanship. You'll never see him screaming at wrestlers or referees. He's under control," said Ivan Inkman, a wrestling official whose son, David, wrestles for the Gaels at 130 pounds.

"He's everything a coach should be: tough, yet a good role model who takes kids to another level."

A 1979 Mount St. Joseph graduate, Triplett twice won MSA titles. This weekend, his Gaels will try for a fourth National Prep Tournament crown at Lehigh (Pa.) University after being champions in 1989, 1991 and 1993, runners-up twice, and fourth-place finishers once.

Triplett, 32, has a 99-18 record, including 81-3 over seven seasons with the Gaels -- a feat accomplished with little fanfare.

"My mannerism, I guess, is of a quieter, very businesslike guy. I treat all of the wrestlers the same," he said. "We haven't had as many ego problems as you might think. We've been lucky, I guess, because so many kids come from different areas."

Which alludes to the recruiting issue often raised by critics of Mount St. Joseph.

"After a while, the rumors stop bothering you, but a big myth is that we give wrestling scholarships," he said. "I follow all the rules about talking to kids. Most hear about us by word-of-mouth, or a network of parents with kids at St. Joe."

Triplett, like many coaches, makes appearances at junior-league events, but he says he's no hard sell. High school wrestlers, he says, are not fair game.

Only two former wrestlers -- Kevin Neville (Glenelg) and Chad Votta (Calvert Hall) -- transferred into the Gaels' program during Triplett's tenure -- and Triplett says he didn't persuade them to.

David Inkman, who lives in Howard County's Glenelg district, said: "I came to St. Joe because of what it did for Kevin Neville his first season. I spoke to some parents of kids, but Mr. Triplett never went out of his way to meet me."

Triplett began wrestling in fourth grade for the defunct EDRECO program.

"He's always been a clean-cut, hard worker," said Hereford coach Jim Long, former assistant to Jerry Seidman in EDRECO. "I actually talked him into wrestling after seeing him in football. The rest is history."

At University of Maryland, he was twice a runner-up and twice placed third in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was ranked as high as No. 12 nationally and won at least 20 matches each season.

Last month, Triplett became Gaels athletic director, a duty that has made the roles of father and husband more challenging.

His wife, Diane, became his sweetheart when they were 16, and they have two daughters, Sarah, 2, and Ashley, 5 months.

"When I'm home, I try to shut out everything about wrestling, though it's difficult sometimes," Triplett said. "Being athletic director's an adjustment, but Diane's understanding about everything."

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