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Losses don't come in more difficult fashions than Woodbury senior Ty Johnson's came in during his consolation quarterfinal matchup in the 138 pound bracket. Holding a 1-0 lead entering the third, Johnson rode St. Francis' Aaron Wilson for the first 1:55 seconds of the final period. Then Wilson rolled Johnson over and scored as time expired to win the match. The loss ends a more than successful career for Johnson, who compiled north of 150 wins in a Woodbury singlet. Sophomore Austin Braun also fell in the consolation quarterfinals, dropping a 6-2 decision to Bemidji's Dylon Sauceda.
Ben Donnelly had near-miss after near-miss in his state quarterfinal match at 145 pounds with Willmar’s Estevan Navarro Friday night at Xcel Energy Center. Time and time again, Donnelly would nearly get a take down or near fall, only to end up just out of bounds or have Navarro slip away at the last moment. So despite controlling much of the match, Donnelly found himself in overtime in a match tied at 1-all. “That was pretty frustrating,” Donnelly said. Then Navarro slipped up. The Willmar senior committed his third caution of the match -- a false start -- in overtime.
East Ridge sophomore Ty Okada's inaugural state tournament appearance isn't done yet. Okada extended his stay for one more day by topping Centennial's Jake Bergeland by a 5-2 decision in his first wrestle back match Friday night at Xcel Energy Center. Okada will take on St. Paul Harding senior Keinnan Thacker (32-2) Saturday morning. Okada, the first section champion in East Ridge wrestling history, fell into the wrestle backs after he dropped a 7-2 decision to Bemidji's Brian Maas in the first round of the 120 pound bracket Friday morning.
Three Woodbury wrestlers are still alive in the chase for a state title. Seniors Ben Donnelly and Ty Johnson and sophomore Austin Braun won their first round matches at the state tournament Friday at Xcel Energy Center. Donnelly was dominant in his first round match at 145 pounds, topping Little Falls’ Josh Beack by a 15-1 major decision. “He wrestled well on top and got into his bars, but that’s his bread and butter,” Woodbury coach Justin Smith said.
Woodbury’s offensive struggles continue Feb. 24, as the Royals fell 51-31 to Park. The Royals are averaging 36 points per game in their last three contests (0-3). That’s something that has to change if Woodbury hopes to get hot during a potential postseason run. It’s not that the Royals aren’t getting good looks, they just can’t get anything to drop at the moment. Woodbury head coach Megan Kirchenwitz said the Royals were 3-for-20 from inside five feet against Park. “I would just say it’s our execution. Being able to finish,” Kirchenwitz said.
Bulletin sports editor Jace Frederick and South Washington County Bulletin editor Scott Wente preview the individual state wrestling tournament, which will take place Feb. 27-28 at the Xcel Energy Center.
The easy part of East Ridge's run through the Section 3AAAA tournament is over. It just probably didn't feel that way. The third-seeded Raptors (21-6) had to hold on to knock off third-seeded Eagan 74-67 at East Ridge Feb. 25. The win advanced East Ridge to the section semifinals, where it will do battle for the third time this season with Cretin-Derham Hall Feb. 28 in Farmington. The Raptors lost their previous two meetings with the Raiders during the regular season. The Raptors offense struggled down the stretch of the regular season.
The Royals couldn’t have been in a much better spot. Woodbury was tied with Stillwater at 29-all to start the second half in the Section 4AAAA quarterfinal Feb. 25. The Royals had lived off early second half runs all season.
Bulletin sports editor Jace Frederick and South Washington County Bulletin editor Scott Wente preview the boys basketball section tournaments and look at the postseason prospects for East Ridge, New Life, Park and Woodbury.
East Ridge sophomore Ty Okada missed the team Section 3AAA wrestling tournament. Okada was at a baseball camp, working on his craft in his primary sport on the diamond. But wrestling was still on his mind. “I was doing some running in the hotel while I was there,” Okada said. “So I didn’t lose any conditioning.” A week later Okada was back on the mat at the individual section tournament in Apple Valley, where he became the first section champion in East Ridge history with three wins at 120 pounds to punch his ticket to state. “It feels great,” Okada said.