Falling to a team that ends up being the best in the state can help ease the pain of an early departure at the Class 3A Dual Team State Wrestling Meet. That’s what the OPRF wrestling team experienced last weekend as the defending state champ Huskies lost 33-22 in the quarterfinals to Minooka, who went on to win the 2009-10 state title.

The Huskies, who in the previous week had earned their share of state hardware with three individual state title trophies, didn’t hold anything back against Minooka. OPRF had an 18-15 lead after nine bouts. Two-time individual state champ Nick Dardanes (145-pound weight class) and fellow individual state champ Sammy Brooks (160), along with LaQuan Hightower (215) and Ben Brooks (285), posted victories to give the Huskies the lead. Sammy Brooks forced a fall at 3:08 on Minooka’s Matt Meyer.

Minooka took the lead for good when Jake DeKlerk defeated Jordan Patush with a technical fall in the 119-pound bout. Individual state champ Chris Dardanes kept OPRF in the hunt with a major decision win over Sean Kenny at 135, but Minooka won three out of the last four matches to close out the win.

Minooka went on to defeat Sandburg 26-20 in the championship.

On Feb. 23, the OPRF wrestling team downed rival Lyons Township 38-27 to advance to the Class 3A State Meet. The Huskies jumped off to a 9-0 lead in the sectional showdown with decision victories procured by Ben Brooks (215 pounds), Hightower (285) and Cameron Harris (103). Lyons battled back with two straight victories before Frankie Picchiotti avenged a loss earlier in the season to Kevin Reimer with a major decision at 125.

The victory bug spread as OPRF’s Chris Dardanes (135) and Anthony Manetti (140) both won by pins, and Nick Dardanes (145) and Charlie Johnson (160) forced technical falls.

A victory by Eddie Guen-Murray at 189 pounds closed out the sectional victory for the Huskies, who graduate seven seniors, including the Minnesota-bound Nick and Chris Dardanes.

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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...