Sam BrooksJ. GEIL/Staff Photographer

Sans the Dardanes brothers, the OPRF wrestling team seems to still pack quite a punch.

With the twin brothers, Chris and Nick (two-time state champ), now at Minnesota after both winning individual state titles last season and five other seniors gone from the team, the Huskies would seem to be in the midst of a rebuilding year. That isn’t the case with the return of defending state champ Sam Brooks (160) and a group of young but skilled grapplers.

Brooks, who defeated Hinsdale Central’s Joe Strocchia 5-3 to win a state title at 160 pounds as a sophomore last year, helped lead the Huskies to a 58-8 shellacking of the St. Patrick Shamrocks to open the season last week. The junior took down his opponent in the first period. OPRF actually forced eight falls, four in the last few bouts. Junior Colin Rogers (130-pound weight class),
senior Chirino Watson (135), senior Nate Crain (140), and Devonte Mahomes (145) all forced falls. Crain trailed 11-6 going into the third period, but bounced back with a seven straight points and concluding the match on a pinfall with four seconds on the clock.

Despite not having several wrestlers on hand for various reasons at Saturday’s Conant Invitational, OPRF managed to claw out fifth place in the field of 18 teams. After forfeiting at 103, 112 and 171, the Huskies still placed eight of its 11 wrestlers. Finalists included Cameron Harris (119), Watson (135) and Mahomes (145), who all finished second in their respective weight classes. Sophomore Joe Ariola (160) finished fourth at 160 pounds, while Marq Brumant took fifth at 285.

The Huskies will look to keep its West Suburban (Silver) Conference dual meet streak alive when they host Downers Grove North on Friday. OPRF has won 18-straight conference dual meets, but is expected to finish fifth in preseason polls.

Repeating 2009’s Class 3A Dual Team State Wrestling title may be a lofty goal for Huskies, but the team did close out last season falling in the quarterfinals to Minooka, who went on to win the title. Minooka was the team the Huskies edged 33-30 in 2009 to win the dual team title.

Join the discussion on social media!

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...