Year in Review 2011: Donnelly, Herold-Plakut make 'state'-ments
For Woodbury's Justin Herold-Plakut and Ben Donnelly, their second trip to the state wrestling tournament went much better than their first.
After losing their first matches at the 2010 state meet and being eliminated on the first day, Donnelly, as an eighth-grader, finished in fifth place and Herold-Plakut, then a freshman, went 2-2 in four matches at the state wrestling tournament in 2011.
Donnelly, who entered the state competition unranked and ended his year with a 37-9 record, defeated Rochester Mayo sophomore Jake Hanson 3-1 in the fifth-place match to earn All-State honors in his second state tournament. Hanson was 34-7 on the year and ranked fifth in Class AAA.
Donnelly and Herold-Plakut, who entered state ranked eighth Class AAA at 112-pounds, won their first matches and advanced to the quarterfinals with lopsided opening-round wins. Herold-Plakut, who ended the year 40-4, beat Buffalo sophomore Cedric Jimenez 9-0 in the opening round of the 112-pound bracket. Donnelly beat Bloomington Jefferson/Bloomington Kennedy junior Hugo Felix 8-0 in round No. 1 of the 130-pound weight class.
In the quarterfinals, however, Donnelly and Herold-Plakut each fell to highly ranked foes. Herold-Plakut lost to St. Michael-Albertville sophomore Cole Sladek 15-6 in the quarterfinals. Sladek (41-3) was ranked second in Class AAA. Donnelly fell to Apple Valley seventh-grader Mark Hall, who was 41-3 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, 14-2 in the quarterfinals.
In the consolation round, Donnelly bounced back to beat Champlin Park junior Bobby Jackson with a pin at 2:19 to keep his second state tournament going and followed it up with a 7-5 overtime win over Owatonna sophomore Bowen Schultz (30-12) in the consolation quarterfinals, guaranteeing himself a medal.
However, after beating Schultz, Donnelly fell 4-2 to Willmar junior Alex Johannes (32-4) in his next match. A win over Johannes, who entered the state meet ranked fifth at 125 pounds, would have put Donnelly in the third-place match. But, the loss put him in the fifth-place match where he defeated Hanson.
In the consolation round, Herold-Plakut defeated Maple Grove eighth-grader Joey Neumann with a 5-2 decision to win a date with Albert Lea sophomore Lucas Hansen. However, Hansen bested Herold-Plakut 3-1 in the consolation round quarterfinals, ending the Royals wrestler's second state tournament.