Huskies grapple with the best

Beat the Streets and OPRF host wrestling tourney for a good cause

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

Lake Highland Prep, from Orlando, Florida, placed first in the Beat the Streets Brawl at Oak Park and River Forest High School over the weekend, but all five wrestling teams came away winners.

Hosted by Beat the Streets Chicago in conjunction with OPRF, the one-day, 12-hour tourney featured nationally-ranked squads OPRF, Lake Highland Prep, Bergen Catholic (N.J.), Poway (Calif.), and Montini mixing it up on the mat.

Beat the Streets Chicago is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to empowering Chicago youth through wrestling. Proceeds from Saturday's event support Beat the Streets youth programming and scholarships.

On the mat, Lake Highland Prep went 4-0 to finish first, followed by Bergen Catholic, Montini, OPRF and Poway.

"The BTS brawl was an amazing event and extremely competitive," OPRF junior Nico Bolivar said. "It was fun to be a part of and run pretty well. It flowed throughout the day with little to no breaks."

OPRF (22-3) started the competition well with a 33-28 victory over Poway. Unfortunately, the Huskies went winless the rest of way, dropping matches against Bergen Catholic (38-24), Lake Highland Prep (42-21) and Montini (40-24). OPRF faced Montini in last year's Class 3A dual team state final as well, with the Broncos defeating the Huskies 43-29.

Individually, the Huskies' Jacob Rundell went 4-0 at Beat the Streets, while Eddie Bolivar finished 3-1. Nico Bolivar, Joe Chapman and Danny Lingen all battled to a 2-2 record.

"I think we performed strongly in our first two duals," Rundell said. "As the day wore on, I think we wore down as well. I wrestled well personally, but there is always another level we can all reach."

In addition to watching an array of high-profile matches, wrestling fans were treated to exhibition wrestling from former Huskie greats Kamal Bey and Ellis Coleman. NCAA champion and USA World Team member Tony Ramos conducted a clinic for youth wrestlers in the morning.

As the regular season winds down, OPRF appears ready for both the individual and dual team state tournaments. The Huskies have been on a roll all season. OPRF is 5-0 in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, won team titles at the Whitlach Invite and The Clash XVII in Minnesota, and finished as runner-up at the 52-team Powerade tourney in Pennsylvania.

OPRF has several highly-ranked wrestlers in the rankings. Rundell (113-pound weight class) and Eddie Bolivar (132) are both ranked No. 1 in their weight class. Rundell won a state championship at 106 and Eddie Bolivar placed second at 132 at the 3A individual state finals last season. Eddie Bolivar recently joined the Huskies' Century Club for winning his 100th career match at OPRF.

Nico Bolivar (120), Josh Ogunsanya (126) and Brian Ziech (195) slot in as No. 4 ranked grapplers in their respective classes. Chapman is ranked sixth at 152, while Torry Early and Daemyen Middlebrooks are honorable mention picks at 138 and 182, respectively.

"We have the team unity, conditioning and drive necessary to accomplish nearly anything if we put our minds to it," Ogunsanya said. "The BTS Brawl was definitely one of our most competitive events of the seaosn, with almost every wrestler having a good amount of skill."

Email: Twitter: @OakParkSports

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