2011-12 Winter Preview: Will momentum carry over for Woodbury wrestling team?This winter, the Royals are hoping they can build off what they accomplished in last year's section tournament.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Last year the Woodbury wrestling team earned a signature win in the section tournament, beating third-seeded Roseville 42-28 as the sixth seed.
The Royals are hoping they can build off what they accomplished in that match this winter.
Woodbury returns the bulk of last year’s lineup, sans two-time state participant Brandon Brochardt.
Senior captains Matt Lundblad, Connor Harreld and Ryan Dickhausen will lead the team on and off the mat.
Other key returning wrestlers include: sophomore Howard Jones, and two-time state qualifiers Justin Herold-Plakut, a sophomore, and freshman Ben Donnelly. Donnelly went 37-9 overall finished in fifth place at last year’s state tournament at 130 pounds. Herold-Plakut went 2-2 in his four matches at the 2010-11 state wrestling tournament and finished the year 40-4 overall at 112 pounds.
“We have a lot of experience coming back in our middle weights, but we will have some early bumps in the top of our line-up because of inexperience,” Woodbury fourth year head coach Justin Smith said. “Hopefully those bigger kids can learn and progress as the season rolls on and we are able to compete with all of the teams in our section come tournament time.”
This year, the Suburban East Conference is as tough as ever with three teams in the state rankings. Hastings is ranked third, Forest Lake is fifth and White Bear Lake is seventh. In the SEC, Smith said “Forest Lake and Hastings will be head and shoulders above the rest of the field”
In Section 4AAA, Smith said he figures White Bear Lake will be the favorite along with Stillwater, Tartan and Minneapolis South.
“We hope to be in that mix at the end of the year too,” Smith said.
Woodbury will hold the individual section tournament this year, which Smith said, “should be fun for our kids.”
Woodbury kicks off the season on Friday, Dec. 2, with a triangular at Hastings. They Royals follow the opener up with the Lakeville North Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 3, before battling rivals East Ridge and Park in the annual District 833 Triangular – held at Park High School this year – on Thursday, Dec. 8. Woodbury will also travel to Fargo, N.D. at the end of December for the prestigious Rumble on the Red tournament.
“That tournament has about 60 teams from six or seven states and lasts two days,” Smith said. “Our kids should like that challenge.”