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Woodbury wrestling: Herold-Plakut finishes third, Donnelly places fourth

Woodbury's Justin Herold-Plakut felt he had something to prove Saturday at the Class 3A individual state wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center.

Herold-Plakut, a junior ranked second at 152 pounds, did just that en route to a third-place finish. Herold-Plakut defeated Shakopee's fifth-ranked Patrick Casey 4-1 to secure third place.

"Taking third is not what I wanted but losing my second match and coming all the way through the wrestlebacks, that's almost more impressive than getting to the finals I think," Herold-Plakut said.

Herold-Plakut, who finished fifth last season at the state tournament, set his sights on a trip to the title match, but that got derailed in the second round with a 7-6 defeat against unranked Colten Carlson from Willmar. Carlson went on to lose in the state championship match against Apple Valley's Mark Hall.

"That's what happens in the state tournament, you've got to show up for every match and sometimes those tough lessons are hard to take when they're in the course of the state tournament," Royals head coach Justin Smith said. "It was one of those things that he wanted to go out and prove that he was better than the day before and he did that I think."

Herold-Plakut jumped out of the gates Saturday for pin Henry Sibley's Garrett Beaman, an opponent who defeated Herold-Plakut last year, in 1 minute, 12 seconds. Herold-Plakut followed that with a 12-2 victory over Rochester Mayo's Brady Nelson to reach the third-place match.

"I think he got stronger as the day went on and as the tournament went on," Smith said. "He had one little hiccup that ended up costing him a trip to the finals probably when you look at it."

Woodbury's Ben Donnelly had to reassess his goals after a second round defeat Friday and appeared determined to reach the third-place match.

Donnelly, ranked sixth at 132 pounds, did get to the third-place match and a rematch with Hastings' second-ranked Luke Rowh, but Rowh still prevailed with a 3-1 overtime victory.

Rowh, who beat Donnelly 5-1 in the second round, got a takedown in overtime to pull out the victory as Donnelly suffered a knee injury when Rowh took a shot.

The overtime takedown overshadowed what had been an excellent match for Donnelly. Donnelly got a second period escape to take a 1-0 lead, but gave up the lead in the third period.

"I think I got a lot more openings that match to shoot," Donnelly said. "I improved, which was good, but it would have been a lot better if I got the W."

Donnelly had to settle with a fourth-place finish, which improved upon his fifth-place finish two years ago at the state tournament. Donnelly controlled the match more in the second meeting and had a chance for a takedown near the edge of the match, but went out of bounds.

"He wasn't hanging on his head," Smith said. "When you hang on someone's head you give them an opportunity to go ahead and take a shot. That's what he did the first time he wrestled him in the tournament and this time he wasn't hanging on the head as much. But he was actually doing more attacking."

Woodbury sent five wrestlers to the state tournament, four of which won at least one match. All those state entrants return next season.

"We're always looking to get better every year and I think we've done that this year," Smith said. "Now we've got to take another step forward next year."