Five Royals wrestlers roar way to StateWoodbury matmen claim three championships, two runner-up finishes at Section 4AAA Tournament.
Woodbury will be well-represented at the 2010 State Wrestling Tournament as five Royals matmen qualified for this coming week's meet via their efforts at the Section 4AAA finals at Stillwater High School on Saturday.
Three WHS wrestlers (Ben Donnelly, Brandon Borchardt and C.J. Hays) won their respective weight classes, with two more (Dan Tyler, Justin Herold-Plakut) earning State berths with second-place finishes after nearly 10 hours of competition at the home of the Ponies.
Donnelly, Borchardt, Hays win individual titles
Earning the Royals' initial Class AAA qualification with a not entirely expected result that electrified the blue-clad faithful was Donnelly, a seventh-grader who capped a three-match win streak on the day at 119 pounds with a euphoric third-period pinning of Minneapolis South's Amin Buta to claim his first section championship.
"It feels amazing," said a choked-up Donnelly (26-14 record in 2009-10) after the milestone triumph. "At the beginning of the year, I wouldn't have thought that I could have beaten a kid like that, but my coaches helped me so much."
While the win may have been Woodbury's most exhilarating on the day, Borchardt's title at 135 pounds was no less impressive.
A State participant last season after a runner-up sectional finish, the junior made the 4AAA championship all his own this time around after defeating Stillwater's Colin Hertz, 7-6, to go 3-0 on the day and take home the blue ribbon and championship placard.
"It feels great," Borchardt (28-10), who led Hertz 6-2 before holding off the Ponies junior in a gripping third period, said while beaming at the large poster or a bracket that proved his achievement. "I am just really happy."
Hays entered the day about as close to an automatic State qualifier as it can get in wrestling and the senior did not walk away disappointed.
Hays, who came in to the day boasting a spotless 37-0 record this year, compiled two more victories — including a 15-5 defeat of Stillwater's Max Finizio in the 189-pound championship — in taking the section title for the second-straight season.
While Hays was quietly pleased with the day, he had bigger things in mind.
"It's all just prep for State," he said. "It's been the same goal all year for me — winning a State title. I'm not going to be satisfied until then."
Tyler, Herold-Plakut punch tickets for State
Joining the aforementioned trio, two more Royals will also be making the trip to St. Paul as Tyler and Herold-Plakut claimed second-place results at 140 and 103 pounds, respectively.
Tyler, who required just two matches to earn his State berth, ran a prompt gambit of emotion following a hard-fought 7-6 loss to Roseville's Cory Strecker in the 140-pound final. Just seconds after walking off the mat dejected at the narrow defeat, he leaped in jubilation after being informed that his result had guaranteed him a first-ever State berth.
It wasn't so easy for Herold-Plakut.
The Royals eighth-grader, 33-3 on the year coming into the day, rolled into the finals after a first-round bye and a shutout win.
However, a 5-2 championship match loss to White Bear Lake's Matt Meuwisson, forced Herold-Plakut into a "true second" match against South's Brandon Strong — who had emerged from the one-loss bracket in de facto third place and had yet to face the Woodbury grappler.
In a match that went the distance, Herold-Plakut emerged victorious with a 4-2 win to complete the Royals State-bound fivesome.
Four more Royals take to medal stand
A quartet of Woodbury wrestlers also earned medals at the sectional, with Sam Lee (152 pounds), Connor Harreld (145) and Nathan Dvorak (112) claiming fifth-place finishes with Quinn Schmalz (285) taking sixth.
On to State
The Royals State-bound quintet are now set to make their way to the Xcel Energy Center for the State individual tournament, with Class AAA preliminaries scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. on March 3. Competition continues for those moving on at 5:00 p.m. on March 4, with semifinal and championship-round matches beginning at 5:00 p.m. March 6.