Regional title indicator pointing toward OPRF

Team has already defeated 2 of the top teams in the regional

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By BRAD SPENCER

Oak Park and River Forest gave a strong indication on Saturday of how badly the wrestling team is eager to grapple in the upcoming Oak Park Regional to be held at Fenwick this weekend. The Huskies downed Proviso East, one of the top teams in the regional, 39-23 to win their final match of the regular season.

OPRF won seven weight classes in the West Suburban Conference cross-over match, including a hard-fought victory by Pat Woulfe at 189 pounds. Woulfe put his Proviso East opponent on his back with just 15 seconds left in the match to win by decision 13-10.

"It was just an unbelievable, true grit, performance," said OPRF head coach Mike Powell of Woulfe's victory. "Pat just battled back and never gave up. It was inspiring for the other guys."

Other OPRF winners included Ellis Coleman at 103 pounds. Coleman won by forcing a fall. Weldon Rogers won the 140-pound weight class by a 9-4 decision, and Peter Kowalczuk won the heavyweight title by forcing a fall. The Huskies procured wins by way of forfeit in the 130-pound weight class and the 135-pound weight class.

Brad Bolen continued to dominate the 125-pound weight class. Bolen, a State qualifier last year, also won by forcing a fall.

LillaShawn Coleman took Proviso East's Lavelle Miller into triple overtime in the 112-pound weight class. LillaShawn fell to his Proviso East opponent for the third time this season, but could face Miller again in the regional.

"That 112 class in the regional is stocked," said Powell, referring to Fenwick's Bobby Barnhisal, LillaShawn and Miller. "That's going to be a battle royal."

Powell said his Huskies, who finished tied for second with Hinsdale Central in the Silver Division, have a good chance of bringing home a regional title trophy on Saturday.

"You can't count anyone out of this regional, but I think if we keep at our pace we should win it," he said.

Powell added that having Bolen back in the lineup has been a huge boost. "We were forfeiting at 125 pounds for most of the season, but now we've got one of the best 125-pounders in the sectional, if not the best. He's a dangerous, strong and mature wrestler. One thing about Brad is that he's a fierce competitor and he really thrives on this late-season pressure."

The Oak Park Regional begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Contact: bspencer@wjinc.com

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