It’s not a writing error or a publishing mishap. You’re reading about the OPRF wrestling team, despite the names Nick Dardanes and Chris Dardanes being in the story.

The identical twin brothers, who starred at Fenwick last year as sophomores and finished fourth and fifth in their respective weight classes at the IHSA Class AA State Meet, have relocated up the street to OPRF. The usually unprecedented move has bolstered OPRF’s already strong varsity program, garnering the Huskies No. 2 recognition in many preseason rankings.

“The arrival of these guys from a private school as highly regarded as Fenwick really shows the strength and the growth of this program over the years,” said OPRF head coach Mike Powell, who added that the brothers also decided to make the switch for personal reasons.

Nick is expected to wrestle at 135 pounds, while Chris will go to the mat at 130 this season. Ellis Coleman, who actually defeated Chris in the 125-pound weight class at state last year, returns to grapple at either 140-145 for the Huskies. Coleman, now a senior, finished fourth overall at state last year and was recently selected to the U.S. Olympic Education Center.

“We’re really expecting Ellis to roll over the competition this season,” said Powell, who is now entering his fifth year as head coach at OPRF. “It really doesn’t matter what weight-group he ends up at, he’s going to do well regardless.”

Along with Coleman, OPRF also returns Kendall Hutchinson (112-pound weight class), Aaron Minnis (140-145), Charlie Johnson (140-145), Dan Martin (152), Ben Brooks (189), Matt Monson (215-heavyweight) and Laqan Hightower (215-heavyweight). Martin was a state qualifier last season, while Minnis, Johnson, Hutchinson and Ben Brooks were all sectional qualifiers.

Added to the fray this year is seniors Joey Brown (103) and Jake Venerable (125). Brown and Venerable took a year off but Powell said they have come back strong and have already proved their commitment.

Seniors Jon Wilson and Brendon Rogers are in contention for the 171-pound weight class. Two-time junior varsity champion Liam Pegg (119) will also wrestle on varsity this season, while freshman Sam Brooks is expected to find a spot at 160 pounds.

“With the arrival of the Dardanes brothers, this is certainly the best team I’ve been the head coach of here at OPRF,” said Powell. “From top to bottom it’s a real solid group. Our only flaw may be our depth, so staying healthy is certainly a priority.”

The Huskies, who hope to improve on last year’s impressive 17-2 overall record, will test their mettle to start the season. The team will face No. 1-ranked Providence and No. 3-ranked Glenbard North at the Conant Invitational this weekend. The Huskies return home on Dec. 5 to begin West Suburban (Silver) Conference action against York. OPRF won the Silver Division last year by wrestling to an undefeated streak of 6-0. Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township look to be OPRF’s main threat this season.

“It should be a very exciting year for Huskie wrestling,” said Powell.

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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...