OAK PARK HEIGHTS — It was Stillwater which ended White Bear Lake’s run of four consecutive Section 4AAA championships, but it was Woodbury which earned the coveted trip to state after holding off the Ponies in the finals on Saturday at Stillwater Area High School.
The second-seeded Ponies (17-19), who have lost in the section finals all four years since last qualifying for state in 2009, defeated the Bears 40-26 in the semifinals but fell short while dropping a 32-27 decision to Woodbury in the finals. Stillwater began the day with a 58-15 victory over Roseville.
Stillwater has advanced to the section finals each of the past seven years, but have finished as the runner-up an excruciating six times. The Ponies defeated Woodbury in the 2009 section finals.
“After four years in a row you lose in the section finals, they’re heartbroken,” Stillwater coach Rich Keller said. “We just told them as a coaching staff to keep their heads up and stay proud because of the adversity we faced where we didn’t know who was in and who was out, but they really hung together and came together as a team at the end and really had a good run. They did get that White Bear monkey off their back.”
The top-seeded Royals also defeated Stillwater 33-30 late in the regular season and, like that encounter, this one came down the final match.
Clinging to a 29-27 lead in the team score, Woodbury heavyweight Joshua McClain recorded a 9-5 decision over Peter Palacek to secure the victory and send the Royals to the state tournament for the first time.
“Give Woodbury credit, they wrestled really well,” Keller said. “We were just one short. It comes down to the heavyweight match, but it could have been any of the kid who wrestled really close matches.”
Stillwater opened up an 18-15 lead after Collin Olson’s 7-5 victory over Kevin Beseman at 152 pounds, but the Royals with a pin at 160 pounds and a technical fall at 170 to grab a 26-18 advantage. The Ponies rallied at 182 pounds where Sebastian Dingle pinned Pavel Swenson in 3:20 and kept their hopes alive after Haden Hausken notched a 5-3 overtime victory over Anthony Doreo at 220 pounds to close within two points going into the final match.
Nobody expects the state champion to come out of Section 4AAA, but the balanced field provided some exciting duals on Saturday.
“The one thing about this section is that any of the top four teams are competitive,” Keller said. “We may get knocked that we’re not the greatest section, but it’s an exciting type of thing, not where you get Apple Valley winning 73-3 or something like that, and it’s usually anybody’s game every year where you can get three or four teams battling it out and that’s what makes our section fun to watch.”
Losing the coin flip helped the Royals set up their lineup and that was not an insignificant factor in the outcome.
Christian Bahl provided a key early victory for the Ponies at 113 pounds, earning an 8-0 major decision over Austin Braun, an opponent he lost to earlier this season. Austin Jordan, who like Bahl won all three of his matches on Saturday, pinned Ben Malacko in 3:33 at 126 pounds to give the Ponies a 10-6 lead. Dillan Nelson followed with a 15-0 technical fall against David Beseman as Stillwater stretched its lead to 18-6.
Woodbury finished with eight victories in 14 matches.
“You kind of replay things in your head and did you make the right decisions and I think as coaches you can always question your judgement, but I think the kids wrestled as hard as they could and we just came up short,” Keller said. “I thought the kids were prepared. They persevered through a lot of drama during the year and this team has improved more than any team we’ve had in a long, long time — not just individual things, but as a team and coming together. They just did a great job and I thought Austin, Wayde and David as captains did a great job of getting the kids together.”
Stillwater lost its first match against the Bears in the semifinals, but never trailed again after Bahl evened the score with a pin at 113 pounds. Wayde Hall followed with a 16-7 major decision over Allan Rendon at 120 pounds. Jordan blanked Grant Bolduan 6-0 at 126 pounds and Dillan Nelson pinned Jordan Dufresne in 3:28 at 143 as part of four straight victories to grab a 19-6 lead. Matt Riehle increased Stillwater’s lead to 22-10 with a 4-2 victory over Joe Dittel at 145 pounds, but the Bears answered with an overtime victory at 152 and a pin at 160 pounds to climb within 22-19.
David Olson’s pin at 170 pounds stopped the momentum for the Bears and Dingle limited White Bear Lake’s best wrestler Tommy Longendyke to a major decision at 182 pounds. Mitchell Schertz pinned his opponent at 195 pounds and the Ponies sealed the victory at 220 pounds when Haden Hausken lost a 7-3 decision against Tyler Hubman where the Bears needed six points to keep their slim hopes alive.
Woodbury 32, Stillwater 27
106 — Young Vang (Wo) dec. Patrick Stokes, 9-6; 113 — Christian Bahl (St) major dec. Austin Braun, 8-0; 120 — Ty Johnson (Wo) dec. Wayde Hall, 6-4; 126 — Austin Jordan (St) pinned Ben Malacko, 3:33; 132 — Dillan Nelson (St) tech fall David Beseman, 15-0; 138 — Matthew Delaney (Wo) dec. Andy Jordan, 9-6; 145 — Ben Donnelly (Wo) pinned Matt Riehle, 4:58; 152 — Collin Olson (St) dec. Kevin Beseman, 7-5; 160 — Justin Herold-Plakut (Wo) pinned Grant Wohlwend, :53; 170 — Howard Jones (Wo) tech fall David Olson, 19-4; 182 — Sebastian Dingle (St) pinned Pavel Swensen, 3:20; 195 — John McNiff (Wo) dec. Mitchell Schertz, 9-4; 220 — Haden Hausken (St) dec. Anthony Doreo, 5-3 in OT; 285 — Joshua McClain (Wo) dec. Peter Palacek, 9-5.
White Bear Lake 26
106 — Matthew Muedeking (WBL) pinned Patrick Stokes, 4:54; 113 — Christian Bahl (St) pinned Anthony Anorve-Andress, 4:53; 120 — Wayde Hall (St) major dec. Allan Rendon, 16-7; 126 — Austin Jordan (St) dec. Grant Bolduan, 6-0; 132 — Dillan Nelson (St) pinned Jordan Dufresne, 3:28; 138 — Elijah Muedeking (WBL) major dec. Andy Jordan, 10-2; 145 — Matt Riehle (St) dec. Joe Dittel, 4-2; 152 — Corbin Buie (WBL) dec. Collin Olson, 7-5 in OT; 160 — Gregg Wilcox (WBL) pinned Grant Wohlwend, 2:55; 170 — David Olson (St) pinned Robert Kowalski, 1:58; 182 — Tommy Longendyke (WBL) major dec. Sebastian Dingle, 11-2; 195 — Mitchell Schertz (St) pinned Matt Orloske, 3:27; 220 — Tyler Hubman (WBL) dec. Haden Hausken, 7-3; 285 — Peter Palacek (St) won by forfeit.
Stillwater 58, Roseville 15
106 — Patrick Stokes (St) won by forfeit; 113 — Christian Bahl (St) major dec. Win Naing Aung, 14-0; 120 — Wayde Hall (St) tech fall Jacob Frattalone, 19-4; 126 — Austin Jordan (St) tech fall Hans Knutson, 17-2; 132 — December Htoo (Ros) pinned Nathan Powers, 4:39; 138 — Andy Jordan (St) pinned Tyler Graham, 3:29; 145 — Gavin Keogh (St) won by forfeit; 152 — Collin Olson (St) pinned David Casper, 4:34; 160 — Hsinku Lay (Ros) dec. John Huntley, 8-2; 170 — David Olson (St) tech fall Henry Elholm, 16-0; 182 — Sebastian Dingle (St) pinned Isaac Schmaedeke, :50; 195 — Trae Story (Ros) pinned Mitchell Schertz, 1:21; 220 — Haden Hausken (St) dec. John Falkowski, 11-10; 285 — Peter Palacek (St) pinned Joshua Klimek, 2:33.