“We needed the loss,” said OPRF head wrestling coach Mike Powell after his team fell 40-16 to powerhouse St. Rita in a quad match at Libertyville on Saturday. “It’s good for motivation.”

The Huskies (12-1) fell for the first time this season to a team that they’re likely to see in the sectionals. If that’s the case, Powell said he’s confident his team will have “peaked” by then and be ready to take on the Mustangs (18-2).

“They are a very good team, but I truly believe that once we are at full capacity we’ll be competitive,” he said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us but it’s doable.”

OPRF was without Ellis Coleman at 119 pounds. Powell said Coleman was out for personal reasons and should be back competing again in two weeks.

The Huskies did have some success against St. Rita. Dan Martin (145-pound weight class) scored a double overtime victory with an 8-3 decision and Peter Lovas (152) defeated his opponent 16-10. Brad Bolen (130) defeated St. Rita’s Matt Migawa 11-5. First year varsity starter Jack Dengel (135) also went 3-0 on the day.

The Huskies had no problem getting by Barrington, 38-24, and Libertyville, 47-15. Heavyweight Max Brooks, who sat out last season with a shoulder injury, overcame a 7-1 deficit to defeat his Libertyville opponent.

Dengel, Bolen, Weldon Rogers (140) and Lovas led the Huskies past Barrington.

“Overall it was a good quad,” said Powell. “Technically, we got beat soundly by St. Rita, but I think if you were measuring hard work, then we had the edge.”

The steep competition won’t let up for the Huskies anytime soon as they travel to Hinsdale Central Friday and Dundee Crown Saturday. Not to mention, still looming is the Huskies’ cross-town showdown with rival Fenwick on Jan. 27. The match will be a precursor to the regional the following week.

“We are not taking Fenwick lightly,” insisted Powell. “They have a great program over there. So we’ll need to get through them before we can hope to face St. Rita again.”

Powell added he hopes to have a full lineup by then, including the return of Nick Zager at 171 pounds. Zager has been out most of the season, first with a lower back strain and then with a leg injury.

“Nick would probably have 20 wins right now under his belt if he was healthy,” said Powell. “That’s how vital he is to the team.”

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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...