For the first time in school history a grappler from Fenwick high school has won a State championship.

Three-time State qualifier Nick Bertucci won the 135-pound weight division title in the Class AA State Individual Wrestling tournament held at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana on Saturday. The senior is the first wrestler at Fenwick to win a State title bout. Dave Herrera, also a three-time State qualifier, placed second in 2003.

“It all played out how we hoped it would,” said an elated Jerry Ruffino, Fenwick’s head wrestling coach, who has been nurturing Bertucci since he was in the second grade. “We had the toughest schedule; he had matches against tough kids. We did our best to keep him out of the rankings. He didn’t have to experience all the rollercoaster things that come with having so much pressure on you to succeed.”

Bertucci went into the title bout against Wheeling’s Jamie Smith as the underdog. He won by a narrow 1-0 decision, bumping his overall record to an impressive 43-5 on the season.

Bertucci, who placed fifth at State as a sophomore, defeated Dave Paramski of Libertyville 10-4 in the semifinals.

Eric Dardanes (185) tried to battle his way out of the consolation bracket for Fenwick. Dardanes defeated Jeremy Godina of Joliet 5-2 in the first round, but fell to Tyler Mancuso of Providence 8-2 in the quarterfinals.

Johnson battles back for OPRF

While the Oak Park and River Forest wrestling team didn’t have a wrestler in a title bout, the Huskies grappled well at their first State tournament in years.

After losing 3-2 to Ian Darr of Civic Memorial in the semifinals of the 275-pound bout, Jamar Johnson made it to the finals in the consolation bracket, eventually losing to Mike Shaub of Lockport 10-7 in the match for third place.

Johnson defeated Dominik Angeloni of Romeoville 7-4 in the first round of the preliminaries on Friday. The senior grappler then pinned Yorkville’s Zack Harbin in 2 minutes and 50 second to advance to Saturday’s finals.

Freshman Lillashawn Coleman, who had an outstanding season at 103 pounds, lost in the preliminaries 18-7 to Neuqua Valley’s Chris Spangler.

Others from OPRF who suffered losses in the prelims included Ben Johnson (130) and Blake Dressel (215).

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...