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Woodbury locked up a spot in the Class AAA tournament for the first time in school history with a 32-27 win over Stillwater in the Section 4AAA championship last winter. (Bulletin file photo)
Woodbury locked up a spot in the Class AAA tournament for the first time in school history with a 32-27 win over Stillwater in the Section 4AAA championship last winter. (Bulletin file photo)

2013 Year in Review: Royals wrestlers reach state, make history

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sports Woodbury, 55125

Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

The Woodbury wrestling team made history in 2013.

Woodbury locked up a spot in the Class AAA tournament for the first time in school history with a 32-27 win over Stillwater in the Section 4AAA championship last winter.

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Getting to the state wrestling tournament doesn’t happen overnight, though Woodbury made it seem that way.

The Royals went from a 7-12 team in 2011-12 to a 19-6 team this past season that secured the No. 1 seed at the section tournament en route to the league title and a state berth.

To reach state, a win by 2013 graduate Josh McClain in the final match vaulted Woodbury to its first-ever state tournament.

McClain, who weighed in at 201 pounds prior to the match, earned a 9-2 decision against Stillwater’s Peter Palacek at the 285-pound weight class. McClain’s win came with top-seeded Woodbury clinging to a 29-27 lead and the team needing the win for the dual.

Two years ago Stillwater ended the Royals’ season in the section tournament with a 46-20 win in the semifinals. The win proved that much sweeter for Woodbury and junior Howard Jones.

“Coming out with a win against them, then especially how close it was, it was really exciting,” Jones said. “We wanted to see Stillwater again so we could bring it to them and beat them in the section finals.”

In addition to McClain’s victory, the Royals got wins from John McNiff,

Justin Herold-Plakut, Ty Johnson, Ben Donnelly and Matthew Delaney in the match.

The Royals got to the finals with a 73-6 victory over eighth-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall and a 42-36 win over fourth-seeded Tartan.

“It’s just the best feeling because we worked all season for this,” Jones said. “We planned to be on top of everybody else.”

At state, the Royals weren’t able to pull off an upset as they were outmuscled by third-ranked Prior Lake, 49-15, in the opening round and ninth-ranked Moorhead, 51-21, in the consolation semifinals.

“We worked really hard this year and we never gave up,” McClain said. “Everyone pushed each other as hard as they could. It’s really exciting to be here and I’m happy we made it.”

Individually, Herold-Plakut, then a junior ranked second at 152 pounds, earned a third-place finish and Donnelly, then a sophomore ranked sixth at 132 pounds, captured fourth place at the state tournament.

Donnelly and Herold-Plakut each earned all-state honors for the second time with their finishes. All-state goes to the top six place-winners in each weight class at the state tournament.

-Nick Gerhardt

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