The OPRF wrestling team defeated Lyons Township 36-28 last week to claim its third straight West Suburban (Silver) Conference title. The victory was also the Huskies’ 18th straight conference win, carried over from the two previous seasons.
Defending state champ Nick Dardanes kicked off the meet by defeating Lyons Township’s Matt Nora at 140 pounds. After falling behind 10-3, the Huskies roared back with victories by Sam Brooks (160-pound weight class), Brock Friesen (171), Nick Kowalczuk (189) and Ben Brooks (215), who is wrestling with a broken thumb.
Other OPRF victors on the day included LaQuan Hightower (heavyweight), Cameron Harris (103), Colin Rogers (119) and Chris Dardanes, who secured the victory for the Huskies with an 18-5 win over Jack Windmoeller at 135 pounds.
“I’m extremely pleased with our performance because I truly feel this is the toughest conference in the state,” said OPRF head coach Mike Powell, who, since taking over the program six years ago, has only had two conference losses. “What I’m most proud of is the fact that we defeated teams like Hinsdale Central and Lyons on all four levels. Eighty-percent of our guys had never wrestled before high school.”
On Saturday, OPRF finished tied for second with Marmion at its own invitational. Chris Dardanes, Nick Dardanes, Sam Brooks, Friesen, Ben Brooks (189) and LaQuan Hightower (215) all made it to the finals. Nick Dardanes and Ben Brooks won their respective titles.
Minooka, a team the Huskies edged 33-30 last season to win the school’s first-ever Class 3A Team State Championship, took first at the tournament. The Huskies are likely to see Minooka again in the Elite Eight.
“Minooka is pretty clearly the best team in the state,” said Powell. “We’ll need to win close matches and grab two upsets, which is certainly doable with this team. Now is when the conditioning comes into play, and I feel we’re the best conditioned team out there.”
OPRF now turns its attention to prepping for the Class 3A Individual St. Ignatius Regional set to begin Saturday, Feb. 6. The Huskies begin defending the Class 3A Team State Championship at home on Feb. 23.
“We’ll be stepping up our training this week and getting creative in practices,” added Powell. “We think this is our time to shine.”