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Park wrestling: Wolfpack takes down Woodbury, East Ridge to earn District 833 championship

Park junior Cory Flaata won a key 9-5 decision over Woodbury senior Howard Jones as Park defeated Woodbury 37-30, then went on to beat East Ridge 46-28 to earn the District 833 championship on Thursday, Jan. 9, at Woodbury High School. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson)1 / 3
Park earned its third District 833 championship in five years on Thursday at Woodbury High School. The Wolfpack is 6-0 in the Suburban East Conference. (Submitted photo by Scott Briggs)2 / 3
Park junior Daniel Duval won a 21-6 tech fall over Woodbury freshman Kyle Bergmann at 132 pounds. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson)3 / 3

Heading into the 182-pound match of the District 833 championship triangular match between Park and Woodbury, things could have went either way.

With the Wolfpack up 28-21 on rival Woodbury, defending District 833 champion and Park junior Cory Flaata delivered a key 9-5 decision over Woodbury senior Howard Jones to all but seal the match for the Wolfpack.

Park defeated Woodbury 37-30, then went on to beat East Ridge 46-28 to earn the District 833 title and traveling trophy on Thursday, Jan. 9, at Woodbury High School.

“This goes to show how hard we’ve worked in the wrestling room to get to this point,” said Flaata, a team captain. “I know everyone has been working hard to get this trophy back and I think we deserve it.”

Flaata lost to Jones, who is ranked 10th in Class AAA at 170 pounds, in last year’s District 833 triangular, but came out on top this year in another close match.

Jones was up 3-2 after the first period, but Flaata earned a takedown at the buzzer at the end of the second period to go ahead 6-5, then held on for the 9-5 win, which put Park up 31-21 and sent the Wolfpack’s bench and fans in the crowd into a frenzy.

“I knew for certain that he was going to be a tough match,” Flaata said. “If I won I’d be happy, but if I lost I’d just have another good match under my belt and I’d get better either way. This one went my way and I’m pretty happy about that.”

The District 833 championship win was Park’s third in five years. Woodbury has two titles and East Ridge has none.

The wins also kept Park at a perfect 6-0 in the Suburban East Conference on the year.

“This is the one we’ve been looking for,” Park head coach Jim LaBrosse said. “We haven’t been 6-0 in the conference in as long as I can remember. It’s a big win for us. We knew Woodbury would be a good test. The guys really worked hard in practice and everybody showed we’re getting better and better.”

LaBrosse said winning the close matches lifted the Wolfpack to victory.

In addition to Flaata’s win, Park junior Noah Ijomah earned an important 12-10 victory at 160 pounds over Woodbury senior Chason Hayslett. Down 9-7 in the third period, Ijomah pulled off a reversal and scored a nearfall to go up 12-10 and hung on for the win, which put Park ahead 28-15 with five matches left.

“We had been losing a lot of those earlier in the year, but now we’re finding a way to win them,” LaBrosse said. “That’s the key.”

Park began the match with back-to-back first-period pins by eighth-grader Garrett Whitehead and freshman Daniel Ruiz, at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively, to take a 12-0 lead.

Park sophomore Collin LaBrosse, who recently rose to No. 3 in the 120-pound rankings in Class AAA, won a major decision, 21-8, over Woodbury freshman Austin Braun to put the Wolfpack up 16-0.

Other wins were turned in by junior Daniel Duval at 132 pounds, with a 21-6 tech fall of Woodbury freshman Kyle Bergmann, by Jake Lanik, with a 10-1 win over junior Matthew Beseman at 152 pounds and by senior Cody Linssen, who earned a second-period pin at 220 pounds. Linssen is currently ranked third in Class AAA.

“It was a tough match,” Park senior David Giadyu said. “We prepared for this really well and our coaches pushed us hard this week. We’re tough and we fought hard and did what we had to do. I’m really proud of how my team performed.”

Against Woodbury, Giadyu, a team captain who is ranked No. 7 at 138 pounds in Class AAA, went head-to-head with another one of the state’s top wrestlers in Royals junior Ben Donnelly in the marquee match of the night. Donnelly, an all-state wrestler for Woodbury, is ranked No. 7 at 145 pounds.

With the match tied 2-2 after two periods, Donnelly started the third period with a quick nearfall to go up 5-2 then hung on for the win.

“We’ve bumped heads a lot,” Giadyu said. “We’re pretty even. I wanted to beat him this year, but it got away from me. No excuses, he’s a really good wrestler. It’s fun to face some good competition and to see where I’m at. It was definitely a fun match. I left it all out there.”

After winning the District 833 championship, Park earned second place at the Richfield/Edina Tournament on Saturday.

Park had five individual champions and scored 225.5 points to take the runner-up spot. Lakeville North won the tourney with 255 points. Wayzata was third with 204 points.

Giadyu, Linssen, Collin LaBrosse, Flaata and freshman Justin Sabin all finished in first place at the tournament.

Park will look to stay unbeaten in the SEC when it travels to Mounds View to take on the Mustangs on Thursday. However, for now, Jim LaBrosse said the team can enjoy one of its biggest regular-season wins of the year.

“Getting that trophy back was definitely one of the team’s goals,” Jim LaBrosse said. “Now we want to keep that thing. It was important to us to have a good night and we did.”

 -Patrick Johnson