Former teammates at Fenwick, Nick Dardanes and Bobby Barnhisel ended up representing separate schools from the same area at the IHSA Class 3A State Individual Wrestling Finals held at U of I’s Assembly Hall in Champaign on Saturday. Both wrestlers brought home the goods.

Nick Dardanes, who with his twin brother, Chris, transferred from Fenwick last year, became OPRF High School’s first individual state champ since 1994 when he outwrestled Highland Park’s Danny Fisher 7-2 in the title bout at 130 pounds.

Nick won all four of his matches at state, including a 7-0 blanking of Providence’s Jacob Wojcik in the semifinals. The junior finished the season with a final record of 46-1.

Barnhisel battled his way to an impressive 5-0 overtime victory over Kevin Bialka of Lockport to win at 152 pounds. The senior, who was the only wrestler from Fenwick to advance to the state finals, closes out his high school wrestling career with a record of 42-2 this season.

Other OPRF grapplers that did well at state included Dan Martin, Ellis Coleman and Chris Dardanes. Martin finished second in the 145-pound weight class with a 6-5 victory over Tim Savenok of Wheaton Warrenville South.

On a lighter note, Coleman, a favorite to win the state title at 135 pounds after wrestling to a 42-0 record during the regular season, lost in the quarterfinals by way of pin to Max Schneider, a freshman from Lane High School. It marked the fourth consecutive time Coleman lost in the state quarterfinals. But the senior battled back, forcing a fall on Naperville’s Adam Stine at 4:27 to finish third overall.

Chris Dardanes finished fourth in the 125-pound weight division. Chris defeated Josh Katz of Deerfield with a fall at 2:50.

Freshman Sammy Brooks (152-pound weight class) went 1-2 at the state tournament for the Huskies, while other brother Benny was eliminated after a loss to Thomas Davidson of Rolling Meadows in the first round. OPRF’s LaQuan Hightower also lost in the first round at 285 pounds.

The Huskies will shoot for their first team wrestling state championship in school history when they travel to U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington on Saturday. The program last came close to winning a team state championship in 1988 when the Huskies finished second.

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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...