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Woodbury wrestling: Third place for Herold-Plakut, Donnelly fourth at state tournament

Woodbury senior Justin Herold-Plakut gets a hold of his opponent at the state tournament. Herold-Plakut finished in third place for a second-straight season. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)1 / 2
Woodbury junior Ben Donnelly tries to take down his foe at state. Donnelly finished in fourth place. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)2 / 2

Woodbury senior wrestler Justin Herold-Plakut had one goal entering the Class AAA state individual tournament – a state championship.

Anything less didn’t matter, but Herold-Plakut, ranked No. 1 at 152 pounds, had to settle for less after a stunning 5-3 defeat against Shakopee’s fourth-ranked Owen Webster Friday in the second round.

“Obviously it wasn’t what I hoped for – at all,” Herold-Plakut said. “I came in here with full hopes of being a state champion. I know that I could have. We each might win five matches out of 10. Last night was just his night. It was terribly disappointing.”

Herold-Plakut, who became the Royals’ all-time leader in victories earlier this season, made his fourth consecutive state tournament appearance and had to settle for a third-place finish a year after finishing third at 152 pounds. Herold-Plakut placed at state, earning all-state honors, for the third straight season. He owns two third-place finishes and a fifth-place finish.

“There was opportunity for scoring that we thought he had,” Woodbury head coach Justin Smith said. “We thought he had some points that the ref didn’t give him. That’s frustrating and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Webster went on to beat Apple Valley’s Davionte Young 6-3 to earn a spot in the championship match while Herold-Plakut (39-4) had to defeat four opponents in the consolation round for a third-place finish. Herold-Plakut beat Henry Sibley’s Jose Rodriguez 3-1 to claim third place.

He beat Hastings’ Jake Johnson Friday by technical fall 18-2 and Mound-Westonka’s John Byers by technical fall 20-5 Saturday before beating Northfield’s Carson Canedy 1-0 to reach the third-place match.

Herold-Plakut didn’t have much time to dwell on the loss to Webster, but found comfort in the words of Tupac Shakur, his favorite pre-match musical artist, before dispatching Johnson in the consolation round.

“I hung my head for a long time, plugged in some Tupac and got in the mood,” Herold-Plakut said.

Woodbury’s sixth-ranked junior Ben Donnelly also had his sights set on a state title as a five-time state entrant and a two-time placewinner. Donnelly (38-4) fell to second-ranked Carson Brolsma from Osseo 7-2 in the semifinals at 145 pounds and had to resign himself to a fourth-place finish for the second consecutive year after a 5-4 loss to Apple Valley’s fourth-ranked Brock Morgan in the third-place match.

Donnelly defeated Little Falls’ Justin Jenks 10-0 to reach the third-place match.

The Royals sent a school-record seven wrestlers to the individual state meet this season, but only Herold-Plakut and Donnelly advanced past the first match of the tournament.

“Obviously the importance of winning that first match was front and center for five of those guys,” Smith said. “That’s frustrating on our part to come up here and have an opportunity at the state meet and get one match in. It stinks.”

Donnelly had no trouble advancing to the semifinals with a pair of victories at 145 pounds. Donnelly picked up a 9-3 victory over Anoka’s Preston Flaherty and defeated Lakeville South’s ninth-ranked Dalton Peterson 7-3. Herold-Plakut started the tournament with a 6-2 victory over Cambridge-Isanti’s David Kent. Herold-Plakut dropped down to the 152 pound weight class after previously No. 1-ranked Dayton Racer left the Apple Valley program.

Woodbury senior Howard Jones, who wrestled in just one match at the state tournament, lost in his lone match of the tournament 9-6 against Centennial’s Tom Handley at 160 pounds. Jones trailed the majority of the match, but came on in the third period to make it close. Handley lost in his next match against Prior Lake’s third-ranked Sean O’Neil to deny Jones a spot in the consolation bracket.

Austin Braun lost in his only match of the tournament at 113 pounds against Centennial’s fourth-ranked Jake Bergeland 6-1 and did not receive a spot in the consolation round after Bergeland lost to Lakeville North’s sixth-ranked Wade Sullivan.

Fifth-ranked Ty Johnson lost 6-0 to Rochester John Marshall’s Logan Saltou in his only match of the tournament. Saltou lost in the next round 3-2 to Centennial’s Mike Matheson to deny Johnson a chance in the consolation round.

Matt Delaney lost his only match 10-4 against Wayzata’s fourth-ranked Nick O’Brien. O’Brien fell 5-3 to Apple Valley’s top-ranked Maolu Woiwor at 132 pounds.

Woodbury senior John McNiff, who earned a trip to the state meet in just his second varsity season, lost by fall to Park Center’s Julius Ogunti. Ogunti lost by fall to Alexandria’s third-ranked Justin Cumberbatch and McNiff did not get a consolation round match.

-Nick Gerhardt