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Woodbury wrestling: Royals are District 833 kings

Woodbury senior Josh McClain raises the District 833 Championship trophy after the Royals wrestling team defeated Park and East Ridge to claim the title.1 / 2
Woodbury head coach Justin Smith and the team celebrate after holding off Park in the heavyweight match.2 / 2

For the fourth consecutive year the District 833 title came down to Park and Woodbury and once again the outcome lay in the balance until the last match.

This time the Royals prevailed 35-33 Thursday at East Ridge High School as senior Josh McClain avoided giving up a fall to Wolfpack senior heavyweight Stephen Zemke. McClain, who weighed in at 197 prior the start of the dual, gave up nearly 100 pounds to Zemke, but did not give up a fall and the six points Park needed for the victory.

"We knew it was going to be a struggle for him, but he's been in that situation before," Woodbury head coach Justin Smith said. "Earlier in the year when we wrestled Eastview it came down to that same situation. I think he learned a lot from that situation and made sure he was in good position and actually took a shot here or there. Josh did a good job of moving when he had to and didn't get put to his back, because if he got put to his back it would have been done."

McClain tried some offense, but to little success against Zemke.

"At first I thought I was going to be able to move him around a little bit and then I tried to move him around and it wasn't working," McClain said. "I figured I just gotta let the match go on and try to win that way without a pin or anything because I couldn't move him."

The victory made up for last year's 38-33 loss to the Park. The Royals led 33-32 entering the final match of the dual last season, but Park heavyweight Craig Sargent won by fall in 16 seconds to lift the Wolfpack to victory.

Woodbury led 35-31 entering the final match Thursday after third-ranked Cody Linssen secured a fall in 36 seconds at 220 pounds for Park. The Wolfpack won three of the final four weights with two coming by fall.

Royals junior Howard Jones picked up a fall in 1 minute, 1 second at 170 pounds over Park senior Jordan Ijohma to give Woodbury a 31-19 lead.

Jones' victory came on the heels of fourth-ranked junior Justin Herold-Plakut's 7-2 overtime win against Wolfpack sophomore Cory Flaata at 160 pounds. Herold-Plakut had to rally in the second period to tie the match at 2-2 with a reversal. In overtime Herold-Plakut excelled and got Flaata on his back with a takedown to pull ahead. Herold-Plakut picked up back points with a cradle on Flaata and appeared in position for a fall, until a timekeeping issue ended that chance.

The clock started with one minute on the board when only 30 seconds should have appeared. After the referee learned of the issue he reset the wrestlers despite Herold-Plakut having Flaata on his back in pinning position. Eight seconds remained in the overtime period and Herold-Plakut rode Flaata out for the win. Missing out on six points there could have proven costly if the match was closer.

"That's not something he normally does, he's not a cradle guy," Smith said. "It's nice to see him working different things. He knew he had collect himself. He was fired up and that composure is going to help him in matches that are bigger than that."

Fourth-ranked Ben Donnelly won easily with a fall in 51 seconds at 145 pounds while Matt Delaney provided a 17-7 major decision victory at 138 pounds for the Royals.

Park, which won the flip, opted to forfeit at 120 pounds to Woodbury sophomore Ty Johnson and move junior Austin Thurmes up to 126 pounds to face sophomore David Beseman. Smith pointed the move out to Beseman and it seemed to inspire him to a fall in 3:33 to give Woodbury a 12-10 lead, its first of the match.

"We figured Ty Johnson was going to go out and get a pin so they forfeited and bumped that kid up," Smith said. "We kind of got in David's ear and said, 'They don't respect you and they're coming after you because they think they're going to be able to get that one.' He did perfect as far as keeping the elbow when he was hitting his fireman's and hitting his dumps to get the near fall. That was a great win for him and hopefully his confidence is going to take a few notches up because he wrestled well."

The Wolfpack got victories from seventh-grader Garrett Whitehead, who pinned Young Vang in 5:55 at 106 pounds and freshman Collin LaBrosse, who earned a major decision victory over Austin Braun at 113 pounds.

After the Royals took their first lead of the match Park sophomore Daniel Duval responded with a fall at 132 pounds over freshman Ben Malacko.

Wolfpack junior David Giadyu cut the Woodbury lead to 22-19 with an 8-4 victory over Royals senior Kevin Beseman at 152 pounds.

Woodbury went on to romp past East Ridge 66-11 where 11 wrestlers won by fall for the Royals.

The Raptors won the first two matches of the dual, but Woodbury rolled after that.

"It makes for an interesting night each time," Herold-Plakut said. "It was really exciting. I was just glad because we worked so hard to beat Park and when it comes down to that last match like that you just gotta pray I guess."