The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls wrestling team had two individuals participate in the IHSA state finals Feb. 24-25 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, with each finishing on the podium.
Junior Trinity White (27-7) finished fourth at 170 pounds, while junior Sarah Ephstein (34-6) was fourth at 235 pounds.
“They battled hard,” said OPRF coach Fred Arkin. “They did a little better than last year.”
White (27-7) opened her tournament with a 12-4 major decision over Bailey Herr of Putnam County, then defeated Belleville East’s Kami Ratcliff 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, she lost 6-1 to eventual state champion August Rottmann of Highland. After bouncing back in the wrestleback with a 5-1 victory over Andrew’s Mickaela Keane, she was pinned by Zion-Benton’s Ileen Castrejon in the third-place match.
“Trinity had a great tournament and a very good season,” Arkin said. “She worked hard and got better every week.”
Ephstein took a different route to fourth place. After pinning Tinley Park’s Emma Akpan in the first round, she lost 11-5 to eventual state champion Kiara Ganey of Belleville East in the quarterfinals.
Ephstein then ran off three consecutive wrestleback victories: 1-0 over Rye Reyes of Conant, a pin of Batavia’s Sue Sue Paw and a pin of Rickover Naval Academy’s Jasmine Mejia. In the third-place match, she was pinned by Jurdan Tyler of Urbana.
“To win three matches in a row [at state] is not easy to do,” Arkin said. “Sarah’s third-place match was close, but she got put on her back at the end.”
Arkin looks forward to White and Ephstein back next year. The Huskies lose only one senior, Andrea Munoz, from this season’s team.
“This was a developmental year and everybody grew week to week,” said Arkin. “I could see the hard work paying off in their growth, and we’ll look forward to the next few seasons.”
OPRF boys swimmers 11th at state
The OPRF boys swimming and diving team finished 11th at the IHSA state finals Feb. 24-25 at FMC Natatorium in Westmont, amassing 38.5 points.
“I was proud of how the guys were able to keep their momentum from sectionals,” said OPRF coach Clyde Lundgren. “They did about as well as they could, given where they were seeded.”
Senior Emmett Harmon and junior Lars Rauch both placed in the top 12 in their respective events. Harmon tied for 11th in the 100-yard butterfly with a time 50.63 seconds, while Rauch was 10th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.28.
The Huskies also had two relays finish in the top 12, with the 200-yard freestyle relay of Rauch, Adan Pedraza, Will Keyes and Harmon finishing fifth in a time of 1:24.79, and the 400-yard freestyle relay of Keyes, Harmon, Pedraza and Rauch seventh at 3:06.97.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Lundgren said. “We had some good, quality people working together this season for a common goal and created awesome opportunities as a result.”
Fenwick High School finished 25th in the team standings with 14 points. The Friars had two relays place in the top 12.
“I’m proud of our year and what we were able to accomplish,” said Fenwick coach Steve Thompson.
Carter Fask, Code Podogorski, Patrick Rhatigan and Sam Kulisek made up Fenwick’s 200-yard freestyle relay, which came in ninth at 1:25.23. Rhatigan, Tomas Adomaitis, Finn Munley and Kulisek comprised the Friars’ 400-yard freestyle relay, which was 10th in 3:08.07.
With the exception of Kulisek, all of those relay swimmers return next year for the Friars.
“They gained a lot of experience this year, and it will be fun to see how they continue to develop,” Thompson said.