Woodbury wrestling: Four of five Royals win first matches at state
The first day of the individual state wrestling tournament usually provides for upsets and Woodbury saw one of the bigger ones first hand.
Royals junior Justin Herold-Plakut, ranked second at 152 pounds for the entire season, had his title hopes dashed in the second round against Willmar freshman Colten Carlson in the Class 3A state tournament in the 152-pound weight class Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.
Carlson staked himself an early 4-1 lead and held on for a 7-6 victory despite some last-second maneuvering from the second-ranked Herold-Plakut.
With time running out in the match Herold-Plakut got a takedown and had Carlson on his back for what appeared another two points for a near fall. The four-point move would have given Herold-Plakut an 8-7 victory, but after initially awarding Herold-Plakut two points for the near fall, the referees conferred and erased the two near fall points, ending Herold-Plakut's shot at a state title.
"I think it was a ref's call," Herold-Plakut said. "Some refs would have given it and some wouldn't have. I guess I just got the ref that didn't give it."
Carlson led 6-2 heading into the third period, but Herold-Plakut got a reversal to make it 6-4 with less than 10 seconds left in the match.
"Justin still has the ability to go through and get third place," Woodbury head coach Justin Smith said. "That has to be his focus now. He let his guard down a little bit. I don't think he probably took his matchup as seriously as he should have. It wasn't that he didn't respect his opponent, he just didn't respect him enough. It's frustrating."
Herold-Plakut said a knee injury bothered him throughout the match and continued to hamper him the entire day.
"I, at least, expected to get into the semifinals and I hurt my knee a little bit and I wrestled like crap," Herold-Plakut said. "It hurts every time I take a shot and I think that just got into my mind. I didn't want to take shots and be aggressive."
Herold-Plakut placed fifth at the state tournament last season and has a chance to surpass that in his fourth appearance at state. He also might get another shot at Carlson in the third-place match.
There wasn't much time for Herold-Plakut to replay the match before beginning the wrestleback round. Herold-Plakut faced Centennial's Will Noll and unleashed some of his frustration to get a 10-3 victory. Herold-Plakut will face Henry Sibley's Garrett Beaman to begin the Saturday session, which starts at 11 a.m.
Herold-Plakut began the day with a 9-4 decision over Owatonna junior Tyler Sorenson.
The Royals sent five wrestlers to the state tournament and none survived in the championship bracket after the first day. The prevailing theme for the evening seemed to be a lack of aggressiveness.
Sixth-ranked sophomore Ben Donnelly endured a similar setback against Hastings' Luke Rowh in the second round.
Rowh, ranked second at 132 pounds, has placed fifth the past two seasons at the state tournament and kept Donnelly in check for most of the match for a 5-1 victory.
Donnelly fell behind 2-0 in the first period and allowed an escape in the second period. Donnelly got an escape in the third period, but Rowh added another takedown to move on to the semifinals.
But Donnelly responded in his wrestleback match with Mounds View's Jack O'Brien. Donnelly channeled his frustration from his loss into a dominant effort where he scored a 12-3 victory over O'Brien to remain alive in the tournament. Donnelly, who did not place at the state tournament last season, will face Evan Caldon Saturday.
"I was obviously upset about losing that match so I just kind of use it as motivation for the next one," Donnelly said. "I just need to be more aggressive. That's what it comes down to -- bottom line. I just need to attack more."
Donnelly beat Mound Westonka's Drake Heath 13-4 in the first round of the tournament.
Woodbury sophomore Ty Johnson ran into St. Michael-Albertville's No. 1-ranked and two-time defending state champion Tommy Thorn. Thorn scored a technical fall victory with a 20-5 win over Johnson after Johnson defeated Sauk-Rapid Rice's Kory Keske 17-5 to open the tournament.
Johnson later lost to Maple Grove's Logan Dick in wrestlebacks 5-0 to end his tournament.
"It went better than last year," Johnson said. "I finally got a win here, which was nice. As we found out last year, I have a lot to work on."
Eighth-grader Austin Braun didn't let the big stage of the Xcel Energy Center deter him in his first trip to the state meet. Braun, the Section 4AAA champion at 113 pounds, picked up a fall over Centennial senior Mike Mischke to advance to the second round of the tournament.
Braun met Bemidji's third-ranked Brian Maas, who outlasted Braun for an 8-3 victory.
Braun dropped down to the consolation bracket and drew a matchup with Owatonna's fifth-ranked Brandon Moen. Moen gained control early and stayed in control en route to a 9-2 victory to end Braun's tournament run.
"He's got five matches at the state tournament (including the team tournament Thursday), not many eighth-graders can say they've got five matches at the state tournament," Smith said.
Woodbury junior Howard Jones lost his only match in his first state meet appearance 12-0 to Eastview's Jacob Rukavina. Jones appeared to have a chance to get another match when Rukavina held a lead late against Forest Lake's Austin Boniface until Boniface came through with a fall to win against Rukavina in the second round.