Achievements, decisions, and even hard-fought losses made the Top 10 sports stories of 2010 this year. Story interest from readers ranged from team accomplishments to individual triumphs, along with one coach’s decision to step down. Once again, throughout the year the local sports scene was stocked full of interesting and intriguing stories.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 most read sports stories of 2010:
10) OPRF boys water polo
The OPRF boys water polo team handed Fenwick a 16-10 loss in front of a capacity crowd at Fenwick in March. The loss was Fenwick’s first by a team from Illinois since 2007.
Tommy Poulos led the charge for OPRF, scoring five goals. Dylan O’Connell added four goals for the Huskies, who took a 10-7 lead by the break.
But Fenwick got its revenge, downing OPRF twice later in the season and then winning its seventh-straight IHSA State Meet in May. It was Fenwick’s 41st consecutive state tournament victory.
9) OPRF hockey
It was early March when the OPRF Hockey Club overcame the absence of several players — out with injuries and illnesses — to nearly defeat Loyola in the White Division playoff round of the Blackhawk Cup State Tournament. After seven overtime periods, the Huskies finally succumbed to the Ramblers 6-5.
Loyola had a 5-2 lead at one point in the game, but then Daniel Shinsako scored in the third and Marcal Beisser cut the deficit to 5-4 with six minutes left in the fourth. Stephen Weintrob netted the tie-breaker with 42 seconds left in regulation.
8) OPRF wrestling
The OPRF wrestling program made school history in February with not one … not two … but three Class 3A individual state wrestling champions.
Twin brothers Nick and Chris Dardanes won their respective title bouts as did Sam Brooks.
Nick, who won the state title at 130 pounds the season before, took first at 140, beating Plainfield Central’s Eric Oyster with a 3-2 decision. Nick won despite being hobbled by an ankle injury. Chris defeated Luke Smith of Wheeling in the closing seconds of the 135-pound title bout with a 4-3 decision. Sam defeated Hinsdale Central’s Joe Strocchia 5-3 to win at 160 pounds, while his brother Ben finished third at 189 pounds.
7) OPRF boys swimming
Near the end of February, OPRF swimmer Eric Hallman placed 11th overall in the 100-yard butterfly at the IHSA State Meet.
Hallman, who was selected Huskie Athletic Council Male Athlete of the Year, finished one of swimming’s most difficult events with a time of 51.87 seconds.
6) OPRF boys tennis
For the fourth year in a row, the OPRF boys tennis team finished fifth or better at the IHSA State Meet. Led by doubles partners Alex Gebert and Jake Wilson, the Huskies finished third as a team back in May.
Gebert and Wilson finished fifth overall by defeating Hinsdale Central 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to close out the tournament with an 8-1 record.
5) OPRF track and field
In May, Amir Arif finished second in the long jump (22-10.75) and third in the triple jump (47-3.25) at the Class 3A State Track and Field Meet. Arif and Carl Heinz, who finished fifth in the high jump with a leap of 6-9, helped the Huskies secure 11th place at the state meet.
4) Tricia Liston
Before Tricia Liston left for Duke, the former Fenwick forward and River Forest resident finished her stellar high school basketball career with a 40-point performance to lead the Friars to a 55-51 win in the third-place game of the Class 4A State Finals in March.
Liston, whose high school basketball career began with her as a freshman scoring 10 points to help the Friars edge Bolingbrook for the state title in 2006-’07, set Class 4A records for points in a state tournament (65) and points in a single tournament game.
Liston connected on 16-of-19 free-throw shots to secure the win.
3) OPRF/Fenwick boys basketball
The OPRF and Fenwick boys basketball teams had to travel deep into Chicago to face one another in the Class 4A Curie Regional semifinal, but the result was a thrilling game.
In the end, OPRF emerged victorious, securing a 48-44 win over its cross-town rival.
With the score tied at 23-23 to start the third, the Huskies scored the first 11 points of the period. But by the time the quarter ended, Fenwick trailed by just three. Dylan Barnett and Mike Mullin combined to make 3-of-4 free throws in the closing seconds to keep the Friars in the game.
Jeff Stanciel-Wynn led OPRF with 16 points, including four three-pointers. John Weinheimer, whose buzzer-beating layup knotted the score before halftime, finished with 14 points.
2) Trinity softball
The Trinity softball team brought home the school’s first-ever state trophy in the sport when the Blazers finished second at the Class 3A State Softball Championship in June.
The Blazers, who lost to Metamora 4-2 in the title game, won a school record 34 games during the season.
Laura Eichenold got Trinity on the board with a homer to left field in the bottom of the inning. Trinity’s Giana Coduti cut the deficit to 3-2 in the sixth with an RBI single, but that was the final hit for the Blazers in the game.
Freshman pitcher Chase Machain closed out her high school debut with a record of 25-6 and an ERA of 2.04.
1) Jim Nudera
The No. 1 sports story of 2010 was the resignation of long-time OPRF football coach Jim Nudera in November. The story garnered the most attention from readers.
After 12 seasons at the helm, Nudera left citing the need to explore other opportunities and to spend more time with this family. While a thoroughly devoted coach and teacher at OPRF, Nudera won just 41 of 110 games on the gridiron, while racking up nine losing seasons, including his final season when the Huskies finished 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference. His teams made the playoffs three times, losing in the first round every time.
Comments from former players about Nudera’s time as head coach differed greatly. One former player wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Wednesday Journal’s viewpoints section stating Nudera should have been fired earlier in his career. Another former player said Nudera was a positive influence.
“Nobody can say Jim Nudera didn’t give 100-percent every day of the year to better the OPRF football program,” said John Stelzer, the athletics director at OPRF. “For a variety of reasons it just didn’t work out as he had planned and I think he realizes that. His integrity and passion will truly be missed.”
Look for our Top 10 athletes of the decade story when the spring sports season ends in June.