UPDATE: Park wrestling: Giadyu, LaBrosse state-boundPark wrestlers Collin LaBrosse and David Giadyu qualified for their first state tournaments on Saturday.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, South Washington County Bulletin
When Park junior wrestler Cody Linssen was lost for the year to a knee injury back on Jan. 3 things looked bleak for the Wolfpack. Linssen, the team’s lone state entrant last year, had been annihilating opponents while compiling a 19-1 record on the heels of his all-state performance a year ago.
With Linssen sidelined, the Park coaches called for someone to fill the void. Park’s Collin LaBrosse and David Giadyu were two of the wrestlers who did — and it paid off.
LaBrosse, a freshman, and Giadyu, a junior, qualified for their first state tournaments on Saturday at the Section 3AAA individual championships at Burnsville High School.
“When Cody (Linssen) went down the team kind of fell apart for a couple weeks,” Park head coach Jim LaBrosse said. “We told the kids someone needed to step up. These two obviously did and so did some others. Seeing the younger kids do it is exciting. Next year is a year away, but these are good building blocks and stepping stones for next year.”
First and second place individuals in each section make state. The two Park wrestlers each took second place in their weight classes on Saturday. Each currently unranked, LaBrosse (34-7) reached state in the 113-pound bracket and Giadyu (32-8) qualified in the 145-pound weight class.
“We’re happy to get those two through,” Jim LaBrosse said. “To get two in is very special and a good thing for our team.”
Collin LaBrosse, the coach’s son, has been watching the state tournament ever since he was a toddler. Now, he gets to take the mat at the Xcel Energy Center.
Collin LaBrosse became the first freshman wrestler ever to reach the state tournament from Park High School.
“That’s what I’ve been dreaming of — wrestling in front of all those people, hearing them cheer for me and me winning,” he said. “That’d be awesome. It’s the best feeling ever. I’m looking forward to going up against the best competition.”
Collin LaBrosse went 3-1 at sections, beating Rosemount junior Jake Baker 11-5 in the semifinals, before falling to No. 1-ranked Maolu Woiwor of Apple Valley in the championship.
Like his teammate, Giadyu earned a first for the Wolfpack.
Giadyu became the first-ever black wrestler to reach state from Park High School.
“It was pretty exciting. I feel good,” Giadyu said. “I’m very excited to wrestle (at state). At the same time, I don’t want to just go there to go there, I want to place. I want to win.”
Giadyu beat senior Alonso Quintana of Burnsville 12-5 in the semifinals to reach the championship, where he lost to No. 2-ranked Dayton Racer, a sophomore from Apple Valley.
Giadyu said ever since he saw his older brother Deron — a 2011 graduate — miss out on a trip to state it inspired him to make it.
Though probably in the hardest section in state history – having to contend with Hastings and Apple Valley - Giadyu’s older brother Deron came close to the state tournament twice, but fell just short.
“I hated that feeling for him,” David Giadyu said. “I’ve been thinking about it ever since then. It’s pretty cool. “The whole year I knew I was going to go. I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. It’ll feel good to represent Park and make a name for ourselves.”
Both Giadyu and LaBrosse said they’re upset their teammate Cody Linssen can’t be there competing with them this year.
“It sucks that Cody can’t go,” David Giadyu said. “Cody, Collin and I put in a lot of work this offseason – not just during the season. We worked out a lot together. It would’ve been cool for all of us to go. But, I know next year we will.”
In addition to Giadyu and Collin LaBrosse, Park sophomore Cody Flaata nearly punched a ticket to the state tournament as well. Flaata finished third in the 170-pound bracket at sections.
In the key match Flaata lost 9-8 to Apple Valley junior Jackson Graham. Graham went on to lose in the championship, which eliminated Flaata.
“We wish we could have that match over again, because he’d be going,” Jim LaBrosse said. “Not having him in there is a bummer.”
Four other Park wrestlers placed in the top six at the section tourney. Sophomore Daniel Duval finished fourth, going 2-2 at the 132-pound weight class. Freshman Zach Wills placed fifth, going 1-2 at 195 pounds and freshman Devin Hubbard and senior Stephen Zemke and each took sixth place – at 220 pounds and heavyweight, respectively.
At state, Collin LaBrosse will take on Mound Westonka sophomore Sam Bennyhoff in the opening round. Bennyhoff is 34-5 and ranked sixth. Giadyu will battle Minneapolis South senior Brandon Strong, who is 37-3 and ranked eighth.
“They’re both going to be tough, but the way these two are wrestling right now they can compete with anybody,” Jim LaBrosse said. “They have two good opponents, but they have a shot to win them both.”
The Class AAA individual first round starts at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 1, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
At state the first match is critical. If a wrestler loses his or her first match and if their opponent loses their next match, their tournament is over. However, a win in match No. 1 guarantees at least two more matches.
“They have to win, because if they do and their guys lose the next match they’re out of the tournament,” Jim LaBrosse said. “They’re excited about going to the state tournament, but they’re going there to place.”