It was the other Dardanes brother who found himself in the spotlight on Saturday at the Class 3A Dual Team State Wrestling Meet held at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington. Chris, the identical twin brother of Nick, who won the individual state title at 130 pounds the weekend before, helped lead OPRF High School to its first-ever team wrestling state title by pinning Minooka’s Brian Bokoski at 5:41 to win the 125-pound weight class.

Chris’s big win was the first of three in a row by the Huskies, who edged Minooka 33-30. OPRF won the title when 160-pound freshman Sammy Brooks pinned Mitch Brozovich just a little over a minute into the match.

Other key victories in the finals included Nick Dardanes’ win over Blake Montella, which gave the Huskies a 16-14 advantage, and Ellis Coleman’s win by pin over Sean Kenny at 135 pounds.

Dan Martin scored a 12-5 win over Kalvin Hill at 145 pounds to give OPRF a 27-20 lead. Ben Brooks (189 pounds) and Matt Monson (215) got the Huskies off to a positive start in the finals with two straight victories. Ben Brooks won with a technical fall at 4:17 over Tim Meyer, while Monson defeated Brandon Haase by an 11-5 decision. The wins gave OPRF an early 8-0 lead. But Minooka went on to win the next four matches – at 285 pounds, 103, 112 and 119 before Chris broke the cycle.

OPRF downed Naperville Central 42-22 in the quarterfinals and Edwardsville 38-36 in the semifinals. Against Edwardsville, the Huskies won seven out of the first nine matches, forcing five falls along the way. Monson, LaQuan Hightower (285), Joey Brown (103), Frankie Picchiotti (119), and Chris Dardanes all forced falls in their matches. Despite close losses by Kendall Hutchinson (112) and John Wilson (171), OPRF led 38-6. With the large advantage, head coach Mike Powell rested the remainder of his wrestlers for the championship bout.

The Huskies, who went undefeated throughout the season in dual meets with 25 straight victories, made their way to the finals by defeating Sandburg 35-26 on Feb. 24. OPRF won eight individual bouts. The team took a 16-0 lead with victories by Benny Brooks (189), Monson, Hightower and Brown (103). But Sandburg scored four straight victories of its own to keep the match close. Nick Dardanes, Chris Dardanes and Coleman all scored technical falls in their matches for the Huskies. Martin sealed the victory with a 6-4 decision.

Not only did this season mark the first time an OPRF wrestler grappled to an individual state championship since 1994, it also was the third time in five years that the Huskies won the West Suburban (Silver) Conference title. OPRF, which was ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the season, went undefeated with six conference victories.

The program loses 11 seniors to graduation, including Coleman (50-1), Martin (41-3) and LaQuan Hightower (23-11). Juniors Chris and Nick Dardanes (218 takedowns), who transferred from Fenwick last season, are expected back, as is Sammy Brooks (42-9).

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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...