Things went down to the wire at the Oak Park Wrestling Regional held at Fenwick on Saturday, and the hosts stunned everyone by upsetting favored cross-town rival Oak Park and River Forest.
The Friars came away with the title by scoring 216.5 points, and edging Proviso East (205) and OPRF (204.5).
Both OPRF and Fenwick did well in opening rounds as each had a wrestler in either the third or first place match in all weight classes. OPRF had a strong performance in the early rounds by 103-pounder Lillashawn Coleman, who, after winning his first bout, lost to eventual champ Lavell Miller from Proviso East by fall, but rebounded to defeat Trent Koenig from St. Patrick by fall (3:58) and Kyle Hope from Fenwick 13-6 for the third place title.
Junior Ben Johnson (130-pound weight class) had a big day for the Huskies as well. Johnson defeated Mike Perna from Fenwick by fall in 5:45, and then defeated Michael Webb from Proviso East in a close 5-3 decision for the championship.
Fenwick, who, for the first time in years, was considered the underdog coming into the regional, saw many impressive performances from their wrestlers, especially in the middle weight classes. Fenwick placed wrestlers in 11 out of 14 championship matches, and took first in six of them. The Friars got hot beginning in the 135-pound weight class as they won three classes in a row. Nick Bertucci edged Loren Willis of Proviso East 6-4, followed by Nick Marino defeating Jermaine Stapelton of Proviso East 8-4 in the 140-pound class, and Eric Gough shutting out OPRF's Chuck Hinrikson 3-0 in the 145-pound class.
The Friars then went on another tear in the 160, 171, and 189-pound classes, taking first in all three. Matt Harmon (160) defeated St. Pat's Joe Fagiano; Bill Barnhisel (171) squeaked out a victory over Proviso East's John Hillard; and Eric Dardanes (189) defeated OPRF's Jason Agrimonti 11-5.
"I got to hand it to Fenwick, they were well coached, and wrestled well," said head coach Mike Powell. "They won a lot of big matches, and we didn't. If some matches had gone another way, things might have looked different at the end."
The day wasn't all bad for OPRF as the Huskies finished with eight wrestlers in championship matches, and won three of them. In addition to Johnson taking the 130-pound championship, the Huskies' other two first place performances were in the biggest classes. Blake Dressel won an impressive bout against Fenwick's Dan Kurtz 6-3, in the 215-pound weight class. Despite having a brief scare late in the third round when he was almost pinned after a reversal, Jamar Johnson dominated Fenwick's Carmen Curio 13-3 in the 275-pound class.
Despite not finishing as high as he'd hoped, Powell was still very proud of his team.
"I am not disappointed in my team at all. They did a tremendous job, and I am really proud of these guys," he said.
OPRF may not have qualified for sectionals as a team but the Huskies still had major success individually, advancing 11 wrestlers in all.
"Were still sending 11 out of 14 guys, and a lot of them have a really good shot to go Downstate," said Powell.
Up next for OPRF is the East Lyden Individual Sectional beginning Friday, while Fenwick looks to take its team Downstate at the Lake View Sectional Feb. 22.