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2008-2009 Regular Season


Move over, Varsity: OPRF's other levels have something to say

The Huskie coaching staff has just released this comprehensive overview of this past weekend's successes among the Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Varsity levels.

Read the news here! (PDF, 116 KB)



"Oak Park in Relentless Pursuit of State Title"

In his Special to Illinois Matmen, writer Seth Schwartz takes a look at the past, present, and future of OPRF Wrestling.  He dives into coaching and learning, and he even takes a stab at listing the top ten wrestlers in OPRF history.

Click here for the full story as it is posted on Illinois Matmen.



Ellis Coleman becomes OPRF's winningest all-time
"Bubbles" rises to the top of OPRF ranks

Ellis Coleman stands on the podium after winning the 32-team Toshiba Midwest Wrestling Classic.
(12/20/2008 - Photo courtesy of Paul Monson)
In the 140-pound finals of the Oak Park-River Forest Tournament, Ellis Coleman faced one tough opponent in Drake Houdashelt of Fort Zumwalt West, Missouri.  Houdashelt finished 2nd a year ago in the Missouri state finals.  He had dominated his opponents this year, losing only one match.  Without question, this championship match would be a big match.  The bigger match, however, came the bout before.

Unbeknownst to many, senior Ellis Coleman would enter into historic waters with a semifinal victory over Tom Kowal of Argo.  In his quarterfinal win at the tournament, Ellis had tied the record for most Varsity victories at OPRF High School. 

Alan "Bumps" Cartwright wrestled for OPRF from November of 1992 to February of 1996.  He was a 4-time 30-match winner.  He was a 2-time state qualifier and a 2-time state medalist.  As a junior, Alan wrestled at 130 pounds.  He took home a 3rd place state medal.  As a senior, Alan competed in the championship match at 135 pounds and took home a 2nd place state medal.  Along the way, Alan scored 22 more career wins than the next highest OPRF wrestler.  Alan Cartwright won an astounding 150 matches as a Varsity OPRF wrestler.

In the 2nd period of the OPRF tournament semifinals, Ellis Coleman scored his second takedown of the match against Tom Kowal.  Exactly halfway into the match, Ellis turned Kowal to his back and scored a pinfall victory.  This victory gave Ellis his 151st victory and the title as winningest wrestler in OPRF history.  With the postseason upcoming, Ellis now has 152 career wins after outpointing Houdashelt in the finals.

Congratulations, Ellis!



Sunday's Little Huskies Tournament is a big success


The OPRF Field House is abuzz during the
Susan P. Collins Memorial Tournament.

Finn McKinney, a Little Huskie, waits for his match
to be called while his father, John, sits near.

837 wrestlers and countless family members came to Oak Park-River Forest High School on Sunday for a day of wrestling at the annual Susan P. Collins Memorial Tournament.  48 of the wrestlers were of the Little Huskies variety.  Many individuals and groups gave compliments to the staff and volunteers.  Thank you to all of the staff, friends, family members, and volunteers who gave such valuable time for such a wonderful event.  Only around 365 days until we do it again!


Three of a kind: Benny Brooks, Kendall Hutchinson,
and Ellis Coleman take home OPRF invite titles
Varsity finishes 3rd; Freshman also compete · 01/24/2009

The OPRF Varsity's regular season ended on Saturday, and Benny Brooks, Kendall Hutchinson, and Ellis Coleman made it an ending to remember.

Benny wrestled the match of the tournament and perhaps the year.  In the semifinals of his 189-pound bracket, he faced Billy Weiss of Arrowhead (WI).  Points were hard to come by, and the score was tied at 2 with less than a minute remaining in the 3rd period.  With under ten seconds left, Weiss was awarded a questionable takedown at the edge of the mat.  The clock showed :07 as  both wrestlers headed back to the center of the mat for the restart.  Down two, Benny needed a reversal (an escape would do no good).  On the whistle, Benny's body went down, up, out, and around Weiss with a mere second remaining.  In overtime, Benny secured a takedown and the win.  Benny went on to pin Anthony Solis of Morton in the championship match.

Kendall put on a takedown clinic and would have made a bundle if he had charged admission.  In his three matches, Kendall had a total of 19 takedowns: six in the quarters, seven in the semis, and six in the championship.  Opponents were defenseless to his shots.  He scored a major victory over Tim Donelly of Notre Dame, a decision victory over Jose Torres of Morton, and a major victory over Matt Hoffman of Arrowhead (WI) in the title match.  It was Kendall's second consecutive OPRF tournament championship; he won the 103-pound weight class a year ago.  He now will add this 112-pound tournament title to his ranks.

Ellis was impressive in his own right on Saturday.  He began the tournament with the best possible outcomes: two falls in two matches.  In the 140-pound final, Ellis wrestled Drake Houdashelt of Ft. Zumwalt West (MO).  Houdashelt won the 140-pound championship in the 32-team Toshiba Midwest Wrestling Classic in Kansas City, MO.  At this same tournament, Ellis beat Mac Bailey of Oak Park, MO in the 135-pound finals.  Last year, Houdashelt finished second to Bailey in Missouri's Class 4 130-pound state championship match.  In today's showdown, Ellis refused to give up any takedowns and won with a 3-1 score over Houdashelt.

In the team competition, OPRF finished 3rd behind Arrowhead and Lyons Township.  Ft. Zumwalt West came in 4th.  The Huskies still wrestled without absentees from Friday's dual meet at Lyons.  As the tournament unfolded, there were a few growing pains that reared their ugly head.  But this tournament was a preparation for February.  An intelligent man once told me, "Mistakes are a part of life.  How we learn from them and what we do defines who we are."

The team roster consisted of these wrestlers (in order of weight): Forfeit, Kendall Hutchinson (1st), Liam Pegg (6th), Jake Venerable (5th), Charlie Johnson (3rd), Nick Dardanes (3rd), Ellis Coleman (1st), Aaron Minnis (3rd), Danny Martin (2nd), Sammy Brooks (2nd), John Wilson (5th), Benny Brooks (1st), Eddie Guen-Murray, and Isaac Chadri.

On the Freshman side, OPRF finished 4th in the team standings.  There were 12 teams that competed in the Freshman tournament.  OPRF medaled 13 wrestlers: 2 first places, 1 second place, 5 third places, 1 fourth place, 1 fifth place, and 3 sixth places. 

Next up: Little Huskie tournament on Sunday!  At the OPRF Field House!  Be there!

The Varsity Huskies go into a two week hibernation until Regionals.  Regionals will take place Saturday, Feb. 7 at Morton High School (East Campus -- Cicero, IL).  Other levels of competition still have events.  See our schedule page for more information.



Conference call: Despite bumps and bugs, OPRF perseveres
to take conference in 37-28 victory over Lyons Township
Revamped lineup takes home 3rd West Suburban (Silver) conference title in 5 years · 01/23/2009

Is it just me, or is it a beautiful night out tonight?

If you read my preview of this dual meet, you know why I -- er, we -- wanted this dual so badly.  Forget about our undefeated season.  Forget about our long term goals this year.  For one night, it was us versus them in a battle of which would endure: dreams or nightmares.  I am happy to write that I can sleep very well this evening.

OPRF (#1, 20-0 overall, 6-0 in conference) entered the Lions' den with determination but a little uncertainty.  Three starting wrestlers (Chris Dardanes, Matt Monson, and LaQuan Hightower) were out with a wrestling bug.  They will be back soon.  That meant that three wrestlers had to step in: Frankie Picchiotti, Eddie Guen-Murray, and Isaac Chadri.

Lyons Township (#16, T-2nd with 4-1 conference record) had six ranked wrestlers and a squad ready to play spoiler.  It was the spoiler that was spoiled on this night.

It was the team's goal to outpoint the Lions; it was clear from the get-go that individual accolades would be put to the side.  With that it mind, I will provide a summary of the action as it unfolded from mine eyes.  Remember that 14 OPRF Huskies were sent out to the mat against LT, and 14 OPRF Huskies got the job done. 


The meet started at 130 pounds.  Frankie Picchiotti, an underclassman, got things rolling with a pin.  Nick Dardanes majored his Honorable Mention opponent, LT's Drew Bates.  Aaron Minnis lost a tough 3-1 match at 140.  Ellis Coleman and Danny Martin each followed with falls.  Heading into the 160 match, OPRF led by a score of 22-3.  At 160, Sammy Brooks scored a major decision over Mike Ryan.  At 171, John Wilson scored a decision.  OPRF was now up 29-3.  Benny Brooks kept the party rolling with a decision victory at 189 pounds.  With six bouts to go, OPRF now led 32-3.

Two OPRF Varsity newcomers showed toughness and heart at 215 and 285 pounds, but neither scored a victory.  Eddie Guen-Murray (215) lost a close decision and Isaac Chadri (285) lost by pin.  At 103, 10th-ranked Bob Gavrick pinned OPRF's Joey Brown.  With three bouts to go, Lyons Township was trailing OPRF by a score of 32-18.  A victory by Kendall Hutchinson would seal the deal on the meet -- and -- the conference title.  Hutchinson rose to the occasion and scored a technical fall victory over his opponent.  The conference title was ours!  Liam Pegg (119) and Jake Venerable (125) brought it in their matches, but each fell to his opponent.

The final line:

  • OPRF had 8 wins (3 pins, 1 tech fall, 2 majors, and 2 decisions) - 37 team points
  • LT had 6 wins (3 pins, 1 major, and 2 decisions) - 28 team points


OPRF hosts its annual Varsity and Freshman tournaments at the OPRF Field House this Saturday (1/24).  The Varsity and Freshman tournaments both kick off at 9:00 AM.

On Sunday, the OPRF Field House hosts the Little Huskies tournament! 

And be sure to read all of the other articles I've written about the OPRF Huskies!!  There is so much to see!  Please accept my sincere thank you for taking time to read about these wonderful boys and this wonderful team.



The four horsemen: Don't take these wrestlers lightly
Senior lightweights have found a home with the Varsity squad



OPRF seniors Joey Brown, Kendall Hutchinson, Liam Pegg, and Jake Venerable have been Varsity fixtures all year long.  This fearsome foursome is one of the reasons that OPRF's team has excelled thus far.  All engineers know that a building is strong only with a sturdy foundation.  Since lighter weights generally wrestle before heavier weights, one can say that the lightweights are the foundation of the team.  These four workhorses are sturdy like steel.

A quick look at each of The Four Horsemen (in order of weight):

"Downtown" Joey Brown (103) - Joey was a spot starter on Varsity two years ago at the 103 pound weight class.  He took a year off last year, but Joey has returned this year with a vengeance.  Joey has made his mark in tournaments this year, despite being unable to compete at Conant.  In a tough 32-team field in Kansas City, Joey took 3rd place in the consolation bracket.  At the Granite City tourney, Joey was better than 16 other wrestlers in his weight class.  He took home a 2nd place trophy.

Kendall "Clutch Hutch" Hutchinson (112) - Kendall was the 103-pound Varsity starter in 2007-2008.  This year, he moved to the 112 weight class.  He started the season with a bang, taking 4th place at the 19-team Conant tournament.  Kendall also has an abundance of wrestling success away from the IHSA season.  In 2006, he qualified for Cadet Nationals in Greco.  In 2007, he qualified for Cadet Nationals in Greco and Freestyle.  This past year, Kendall was a member of Illinois Greco-Roman Junior National Duel Team.

"Laser" Liam Pegg (119/125) - Liam is like a laser: narrow and powerful.  He is the ultimate team player.  Liam impresses many with his skills on the mat, including having incredible flexibility.  He has a knack for rising to occasion, giving the top talents in the state a run for their money.  OPRF boasts one of the toughest schedules in the state, and Liam has a .500 record in duals.  In matches, Liam is also winning the takedown battle: he has seven more takedowns than his opponents.  Liam also goes by the nickname "Pegg Legg."

Jake "The Jackhammer" Venerable (119/125) - Jake, like Joey Brown, took a year off from wrestling in 2007-2008.  Jake has fit like a glove this year.  He has been very versatile as a competitor, nearly splitting his matches down the middle between 119 and 125 pounds.  At 125 pounds, Jake recorded a 4th place finish at the Conant Tournament.  At 119 pounds, Jake took 2nd place in the consolation bracket at Kansas City.  He is an impressive 9-4 in duals.  Jake also goes by the nickname "J-Dub."

Jordan Patush, a junior, has also wrestled one match on Varsity this year.



OPRF to host two days of tournaments this weekend
High school and youth tournaments to take place at OPRF High School


Saturday (1/24)


Sunday (1/25)


On Saturday, OPRF will host two high school tournaments in the OPRF Field House.  Beginning at 9:00 AM, OPRF will run its annual Varsity and Freshman tournaments.  On three mats, a Varsity tournament will be held.  On three other mats, a Freshman tournament will be held.  There will be around 8 teams per tournament.  The teams that wrestle in the Varsity tournament are not necessarily the same in the Freshman tournament.  For example, Fenwick has traditionally attended the Freshman tournament, but the Fenwick Varsity has not attended the Varsity tournament.

In addition to OPRF, this year's Varsity tournament consists of Morton, Argo, Notre Dame, Arrowhead (WI), Ft. Zumwalt West (MO), and perhaps a few others.  Lyons Township will also attend the Varsity tournament, so it will be interesting to follow the LT-OPRF action from Friday and Saturday.

Both tournaments (Varsity and Freshman) will begin at 9:00 AM in the Field House.  Here are the results from OPRF's Varsity tournament from last year: Last year's results (PDF)

On Sunday, the Little Huskies tournament will take place in the same OPRF Field House.  This tournament is a great place to watch (or assist in) wrestlers who have not yet made it to high school.  Kids (from about 5 years to 14) will wrestle anywhere and everywhere in the Field House.  If you have never been to a youth tournament, I suggest you come.  Tournament organizers are still looking for helpers to assist as much as they can on Sunday.  There is so much that needs to be done in order to make the tournament a great success!

If you are able to help on Sunday, please contact Little Huskies coaches via email at  You can also view the Little Huskies website here.

If you are a wrestler in the Little Huskies tournament, show up at 7 AM at the Field House.  If you want to be a spectator, the tournament should get started between 8 and 9.  If you are a helper, you've got your directions (and thank you!!).  Sunday's tournament is slated to finish around 4 PM, but this time is approximate.



Reigning cats and dogs: Huskies aim for conference title
with a win at Lyons Township this Friday (1/23)
Martin and company ready to erase memory of 2 years ago



In January of 2007, then OPRF sophomore Dan Martin was one of seven Varsity wrestlers to defeat his Lyons Township opponent.  Seven other Varsity wrestlers were not as successful.

In the 2006-2007 season, the Huskies came to Lyons Township High School with the conference title on the line.  The winner would be West Suburban (Silver) conference champions.  The loser would uncomfortably settle into 2nd place.  After a dual of high drama, OPRF and LT (Lyons Township) were tied with an identical score: 29-29.  In cases of a tie, a tiebreaker criteria is used to determine the winner.  Both teams won the same amount of contests (7), but LT had 2 pins to OPRF's 1.  That fact sealed the championship for the Lions.

Dan (known as "Danny" to some) Martin is now a senior and is one of the leaders on the Varsity squad.  At an undefeated record of 29-0, Martin is a serious threat to win a state title this year.  Two years ago, Martin was a state qualifier at 145 pounds.  Last year, Martin was again a state qualifier at 145 pounds.  He was one victory away from taking home a medal.  This year, Martin is ranked #2 in the state at 145 pounds.  This soft-spoken, highly intelligent wrestler always begins his match by first shaking the hand of the referee officiating his match.  He then turns his attention to dominating his opponent.  And dominate he does.  You can be sure he wants the conference title this year for past and present Huskies.

Come out to cheer on Dan and the rest of the squad as they shoot for their second straight conference championship.  The Huskies defeated Lyons Township 37-23 at OPRF last year.  If you are on the fence about traveling to Lyons Township, just think about how great it would be to see our beloved Huskies win the championship LIVE!  We hope you make it!

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 21: For more information on Dan, there is a recent article written about him on Dan Martin article covers Chicagoland high school news.  Some articles are free, but you must be a subscriber to view all stories.  A subscription is $20.  There are other OPRF articles posted at, but some are only open to subscribers.  Visit the PremiumPreps homepage here.

Here are the details about Lyons Township High School:

ADDRESS:  Lyons Township (North Campus) is located at 1000 S. Brainard, LaGrange, IL  60525

LTHS is located between Ogden and 47th Street at the corner of Brainard and Cossitt. 

FROM THE EAST: Take Ogden Ave. east to Brainard Ave.  Turn left on Brainard, cross the railroad tracks and turn right at Cossitt to the school.  The parking lot is west of the building.

WRESTLING:  North Campus, All Levels - The wrestling gym is located in the Vaughan Building.  Park in the lot to the west of the building; walk up the sidewalk to first set of steps.  The gym is located inside the doors at the top of the steps.

For more information on teams, schedules, results, rankings, and more on teams in the West Suburban Silver and Gold divisions, visit Brian Tideman's other website:

Here is a breakdown of the two teams (Updated 1/20):

Oak Park-River Forest
State ranking: 1st
Ranked wrestlers: 9
Losses this year: 0
Conference record: 5-0
Last year's result: W 37-20

Lyons Township
State ranking: 16th
Ranked wrestlers: 6
Losses this year: 4
Conference record: 4-0
Last year's result: L 20-37


Come out to support the Huskies!



Aces are wild: three #1 wrestlers compete
on Saturday with 1 week to go

OPRF won all three duals on Saturday to improve to a record of 19-0, 5-0 in conference.  OPRF defeated Dundee-Crown 36-26, Rockford Boylan 62-9, and Lane 47-9.  The stories, however, focused on three individual matches.

Dundee-Crown (ranked #19) and OPRF had an exciting dual to begin the quad; the Huskies won by 10.  In the final two duals of the day, the "Great Dardanes" (a term borrowed from one of the wrestlers) each persevered after early scares.  Against Rockford Boylan, Chris Dardanes (#3 at 125) wrestled Blaise Butler, a top 15 ranked wrestler.  Butler found Dardanes' back early, but Dardanes fought his way back to push the contest to overtime.  In OT, Dardanes scored a takedown for the win!

Against Lane, Nick Dardanes (#1 at 130) had a showdown of his own.  He faced freshman Max Schneider, ranked #6 at 135 pounds.  The bout featured two undefeated wrestlers late in the season.  (Nick) Dardanes dominated early until he caught his own case of the "back bug" that attacked his brother, Chris.  Dardanes battled back and eventually regained control of the match, winning 16-12.

OPRF did not wrestle Prospect in a dual (OPRF wrestled Rockford Boylan instead), but Ellis Coleman made a clear statement to all those that still doubt his talents.  Many wrestling fans anticipated a Matt Boggess and Ellis Coleman matchup.  Matt Boggess is a returning state finalist from a year ago.  He is undefeated and ranked #1 in Illinois at 140 pounds.  Ellis Coleman is a returning 3rd place winner from a year ago.  He also is undefeated and is ranked #1 at 135 pounds.  Despite the fact that Prospect and OPRF did not wrestle in a dual, Boggess and Coleman agreed to wrestle in an exhibition.  Coleman dominated from start to finish in a 16-6 victory.  Coleman continues to let his wrestling speak for itself, and it speaks in volumes.

Next up: OPRF visits Lyons Township on Friday, 1/23.  With a win, OPRF cements its 2nd straight conference title.  OPRF hosts the Huskie tournament on Saturday, 1/24.  More details will come soon.  Wrestling begins at 9 AM.



OPRF defeats Proviso West 57-9: Huskies tame the Panthers
in the last home dual meet of the season

On Friday, the Huskies welcomed the Proviso West Panthers to OPRF High School for the last home dual of the season.  (There is an upcoming OPRF tournament on Saturday, January 24.  This will be the last home event of the season.)  OPRF improved to a conference record of 5-0.  Proviso West fell to a conference record of 1-4.  The Huskie Highlight goes to Chris Wilson.  Trailing near the end of the third period, Wilson scored to push the match into overtime.  He won the match in the 2nd overtime.  Way to go, Chris!



Eight is enough: Huskies win first 8 bouts en route to
46-12 victory over #10 Hinsdale Central


Talking with an OPRF Wrestling parent a few minutes before the Varsity dual meet began, he and I discussed the "worry factor."  Anytime two top teams compete in a dual meet, it is known that anything can happen.  The dual meet finally began, and the Huskies (15-0, 4-0) put up 8 wins in the first 8 bouts to quickly dissipate any worries that I had.

Opening at 112 pounds, Kendall Hutchinson put forth a strong performance in a technical fall victory.  Liam Pegg (119) followed with a major decision.  Chris Dardanes (125),  Charlie Johnson (130; demonstrated what Huskie Pride is all about), and Nick Dardanes followed with wins.  Ellis Coleman scored a quick fall, Dan Martin (#2 at 145) defeated Tim Knowles (#7 at 140) by a score of 3-1, and Sammy Brooks scored OPRF's second technical fall win of the meet.  8 bouts; 8 wins.  Before they knew it, Hinsdale Central trailed 36-0.  The Red Devils' first victory came at 160 pounds, where Brock Friesen made his Varsity debut for the Huskies.  Friesen put forth a gritty performance in his loss.  Regardless of any results, it is an honor simply to be asked to wrestle on Varsity.  It's one more Varsity match than so many others have had.  Congratulations, Brock.

Hinsdale Central (falling to 3-1 in conference) won its second bout at 171, where John Wilson put forth an impressive performance but lost in decision.  Benny Brooks won a decision at 189 pounds, and Matt Monson notched a dominating 8-1 victory over the #6 ranked 215-pounder in the state.  The Red Devils won their third and final bout -- this one by forfeit -- at 285 pounds.  Joey Brown finished the meet with a major decision at 103 pounds.  In all, OPRF scored 11 of 14 victories.

* - One piece of information to store away for future years is the fact that the Freshman compete early at Hinsdale Central.  Normally at dual meets of all levels, the Junior Varsity 1 and Junior Varsity 2 teams wrestle -- each on one mat.  Following, the Varsity and Freshman teams wrestle on the same mats.  However, they do things differently at Hinsdale Central.  Freshman, Junior Varsity 1, and Junior Varsity 2 wrestle at first.  The Varsity dual meet takes place all by itself.  There may be a few Freshman parents that missed their wrestler's matches because of this aberration.  I feel horrible if that was the case, but I was as clueless as you were.  Like I said, let's store that away for next time!

Next up: Come out to support the Huskies -- AT HOME!  OPRF hosts Proviso West (all levels) on Friday (1/16).  Varsity and Freshmen are slated for 6:45 PM.  On Saturday, Varsity visits Dundee-Crown for a quad (@ 9 AM).  Lane and Prospect will also be at Saturday's quad.



Huskies and Red Devils clash this Thursday (1/15)
Conference title could be on the line


On Thursday, Hinsdale Central High School will host two of the best teams in the state of Illinois.  These two teams happen to share the same athletic conference -- the West Suburban (Silver).  Last year, all the Red Devils had to do to win conference was to beat the Huskies at OPRF.  They did not, as the Huskies scored a 42-15 victory.

Hinsdale Central fields a much improved team this year.  This dual meet is a can't miss.  It may determine the conference champion for 2008-2009.

Hinsdale Central High School is located at 5500 S. Grant in Hinsdale, IL 60521 (55th and Grant).  Wrestling will take place in the Main Gym.  Enter the canopied entrance on the east side of the building.  Proceed to the Main Gym.  Admission is charged.  Varsity is slated to begin at 6:45 PM.

For more information on teams, schedules, results, rankings, and more on teams in the West Suburban Silver and Gold divisions, visit Brian Tideman's other website:

Here is a breakdown of the two teams (Updated 1/13):

Oak Park-River Forest
State ranking: 1st
Ranked wrestlers: 9
Losses this year: 0
Conference record: 3-0
Last year's result: W 42-15

Hinsdale Central
State ranking: 10th
Ranked wrestlers: 9
Losses this year: 1
Conference record: 3-0
Last year's result: L 15-42


Come out to support the Huskies!



And the beat goes on: Huskies host 3 teams, post 3 victories

OPRF (14-0) came into Saturday's home quad without skipping a beat after a big win on Friday night against Grant.  The Huskies continued their heavy-handed, hard-nosed wrestling in wins over Wheaton North, Libertyville, and St. Rita.  OPRF defeated Wheaton North 47-17, Libertyville 46-22, and St. Rita 50-20.  Wheaton North came in as an Honorable Mention (top 25+), and Libertyville came in as the #10 ranked team in Illinois (Class 3A).

Undefeated OPRF Varsity wrestlers from the quad include Joey Brown (3-0, 103), Charlie Johnson (1-0, 130), Chris Dardanes (2-0, 130), Aaron Minnis (1-0, 135), Nick Dardanes (2-0, 135), Ellis Coleman (3-0, 140), Danny Martin (3-0, 145), Sammy Brooks (3-0, 152), Benny Brooks (3-0, 189), and Matt Monson (3-0, 215).



So much for hospitality: Grant travels 50 miles
only to be dismantled by the Huskies 52-15

39-13.  I've had more nightmares than I can remember with those two numbers haunting me.  On February 25, 2006, the Grant Bulldogs put a thumping on the OPRF Huskies in the first round of the dual team state finals.  I was there in DeKalb, and I watched the horror unfold.  The shoe switched to the other foot on this night, as the Huskies won 11 of 14 matches to show the world which team was the better one this year.

It was an unusual dual meet.  It was the first time that I have ever seen a split Varsity meet.  The 103 pound match started on one mat.  The 145 pound match started on the other.  It didn't matter where your eyes began, however, because you were happy with what you saw if you were a Huskie fan.

The Huskies (11-0, #1 in IL) stormed to a 19-0 lead with victories by Joey Brown (103), Kendall Hutchinson (112), Danny Martin (145), and Sammy Brooks (152).  Grant (ranked #15) won the next three matches at 119, 160 (#7 ranked Tyler Becker), and 171 (#2 ranked Lee Munster).  That would be all for the Bulldogs, as OPRF rattled off 7 consecutive matches to end the dual meet.

Other OPRF winners were Jake Venerable (125), Chris Dardanes (130), Nick Dardanes (135), Ellis Coleman (140), Benny Brooks (189), Matt Monson (215), and LaQuan Hightower (285).

Huskie Highlight  Our Huskie Highlight goes to three Huskies tonight: Kendall Hutchinson, Nick Dardanes, and Sammy Brooks.  Hutchinson wrestled hard for six minutes and came back to score a 7-6 victory against a tough opponent.  Dardanes (#1 at 130 pounds) scored a technical fall victory over Jason Montemayor (#5 at 135 pounds).  Yes, a technical fall.  Brooks (#7 at 152 pounds) scored a major decision victory over Tyler Dempsey (#12 at 152 pounds).

Next up: OPRF hosts Libertyville, St. Rita, and Wheaton North at the OPRF Field House this Saturday, 1/10.  Wrestling begins at 10:00 AM.

Update:  There is a full article written about this dual meet on the Web.  Gary Larsen, writer for, visited OPRF High School for the Grant-OPRF dual.  PremiumPreps advertises itself as "Your #1 Source for Chicago High School Wrestling News."  It offers a wealth of free news and articles.  For full access, it asks for a $20 subscription.

The OPRF-Grant article on is FREE! 

Here are the links: article | two more pictures



What is history?
Weekend Preview's first definition of "history" states that history is "the branch of knowledge dealing with past events."

OPRF (10-0, ranked #1 in IL) hosts four teams over two days this weekend, each team with its own OPRF history storyline.

Friday night (1/9): OPRF vs. Grant Bulldogs - All Levels (Varsity @ 6 PM) - 1 West Gym

Grant eliminated OPRF from the Dual Team State Tournament in 2005-2006, the last time OPRF made it to the dual team finals.  Grant comes in ranked #15.

Saturday (1/10): OPRF vs. St. Rita Mustangs, Libertyville Wildcats, and Wheaton North Falcons - Varsity and Junior Varsity - Field House - 10 AM (rounds to begin approx. 10 AM, 12:15 PM, 2:30 PM)

St. Rita eliminated OPRF from the Dual Team Sectionals in 2006-2007, the last time OPRF made it to the dual team tournament.

Libertyville and Wheaton North handed OPRF its only two dual meet losses last year -- in 2008-2009.  Libertyville also was a Granite City foe this past weekend.  Libertyville comes in ranked #10; Wheaton North is an Honorable Mention.

Come on out to one competition -- OR ALL -- to support the #1 ranked OPRF Huskies!



1 for the ages: OPRF crowns 6, places 10 en route to
1st Granite City tournament title
01/02/2009 - 01/03/2009


Left: Four wrestling mats hosted all the action.

Right: OPRF outlasted 17 other schools to be crowned
Granite City tournament champion.


In its second Granite City Holiday Tournament, OPRF Huskies firmly claimed "Oak Park" supremacy while dominating 17 other teams from Illinois and Missouri.  For six straight years, the Oak Park (Mo.) Northmen had reigned as Granite City tournament champions.  For the seventh year, Oak Park still stood at the top -- the Oak Park-River Forest Huskies, that is. 

OPRF took the championship with 265.5 points.  Libertyville (who comes to OPRF this Saturday to compete in a quad versus OPRF, Wheaton North, and St. Rita) placed second with 202 points.  Oak Park, MO gained a third place finish with 191 points.  Rounding out the top 4, host Granite City finished with 180.5 points.  The Huskies won by an astounding 43.5 points over Libertyville, despite not fielding a wrestler at 189 pounds.  Starter Ben Brooks, ranked top 10 in Illinois at 189 pounds, was unable to travel with the team.

Six Huskies went a perfect 6-0 and finished with Granite City titles:

Chris Dardanes (125), Nick Dardanes (130), Ellis Coleman (140), Dan Martin (145), Sammy Brooks (152), and Matt Monson (215).

OPRF also boasted four other placers:

Joey Brown (2nd @ 103), Aaron Minnis (3rd @ 135), John Wilson (6th @ 171), and LaQuan Hightower (5th @ 285).

Rounding out the Varsity entrants were Kendall Hutchinson (112), Liam Pegg (119), and Chris Wilson (160).



OPRF hopes to strike gold in Granite City this weekend
01/02/2009 - 01/03/2009

As the New Year turns, the Varsity squad finds itself in a similar situation it did two weeks ago: on the road in a large tournament.  Last year at Granite City, OPRF finished 4th out of 20 teams.  This year, OPRF is poised to improve on that performance.  The Huskies will face familiar Missouri foes in Oak Park and Ft. Zumwalt West.  Many southern Illinois teams will also be in attendance, along with Libertyville.  Libertyville is a team that handed OPRF its first dual meet loss last year.  In a plug for a future home event at OPRF High School, the Libertyville Wildcats will visit the Huskies on January 10 in a quad.  You can be sure that revenge will be on the Huskies' mind.  But I digress...

Here are the details of the tournament:

When: Friday and Saturday, January 2 and 3.  Wrestling begins at 10:30 AM on Friday and 10:00 AM on Saturday.
Where: Granite City High School.  GCHS is located at 3101 Madison Avenue, Granite City, IL, 62040.
Who: Your beloved Huskies!

If you are going, I hope you like the color red; you'll be swimming in it when you arrive at the arena.

And a Happy New Year from all of us at OPRF Wrestling!



2 Huskies win, 4 others place at Kansas City mega tournament
12/20/2008 - 12/21/2008

OPRF came to Kansas City with focus and determination.  The goals: to improve on last year's 17th place finish and to wrestle "Huskie tough."  Last year's tournament field had 24 teams.  This year's tournament boasted 32 elite teams from 9 states.  The 2008 Huskie bunch put forth a steady, gritty performance to finish in 8th place.  6 wrestlers finished in the top 8.  In order of finish, here are the place-winners:

Nick Dardanes (130) placed 1st.  He was never in trouble in his championship match.
Ellis Coleman (135) placed 1st.  His 7-6 victory over Mac Bailey is already an internet sensation.
Matt Monson (215) placed 4th.  Another dominating performance for an underrated wrestler.
Benny Brooks (189) placed 6th.  He continues to improve and is already a statewide force.
Chris Dardanes (125) placed 7th.  Like his brother, Chris is the real deal.
Sammy Brooks (152) placed 7th.  The sky is the limit with this youngster.

OPRF also had contributions from Joey Brown (103), Kendall Hutchinson (112), Jake Venerable (119), Aaron Minnis (140), Chris Wilson (160), and John Wilson (171).

Next up: OPRF travels once again.  This time, Granite City is the destination.  The Granite City tournament begins Friday morning, Jan 2, and ends Saturday night, Jan 3.

Toshiba Midwest Classic Videos
Courtesy of

130 pound final: Nick Dardanes (OPRF) def. Zach Bintliff (Oak Park, MO) 6-1


135 pound final: Ellis Coleman (OPRF) def. Mac Bailey (Oak Park, MO) 7-6



This weekend (Dec 19-20): Toshiba Midwest Wrestling Classic
Kansas City, MO

What it is: 32-team individual wrestling tournament.  View the tournament info here.

You can follow the results and news at  Scroll down in the "Tournaments" menu to find Toshiba Midwest Wrestling Classic.  Then, click on "Enter Tournament."  You can view brackets, team scores, and other news -- all from the comfort of your home!

If you're feeling ambitious, come out west!  My sources say that the admission is $15 per day (Friday or Saturday), or $20 for both days.



A view from above: West Aurora, Glenbard North, and Neuqua Valley all succumb to the Huskie bite


Left: OPRF is among 4 schools to prepare for the Varsity/Junior Varsity quad.

Right: OPRF completes the sweep by shaking hands with Neuqua Valley.

"In order to be the best, you have to beat the best."  OPRF beat the best that West Aurora, Glenbard North, and Neuqua Valley brought with them to Carol Stream.  OPRF (ranked #1 by Illinois Matmen) discarded West Aurora (#9) by a score of 45-19, overpowered Glenbard North (#8) by a score of 37-27, and outmaneuvered Neuqua Valley (#4) by a score of 38-21.

The day began with a fall by Benny Brooks and ended with a decision victory by Matt Monson.  Sandwiched between was a whole lot of great wrestling.  Here's a recap:

  • OPRF first met West Aurora.  The team score was tied 19-19 after the teams split the first 8 matches.  Beginning with a major victory by Nick Dardanes, OPRF won the last 6 matches of the meet.  Danny Martin (152) clinched the victory with a technical fall win. 
  • In the second meet, OPRF and Glenbard North engaged in a see-saw match.  OPRF won the first two matches (beginning at 215), Glenbard North won the next 5, and OPRF won the following 5.  The meet ended with OPRF and Glenbard North splitting the last two.  A notable match was Tony Ramos (#1 at 125 pounds) outlasting Chris Dardanes (#2) by a score of 5-3.
  • In the finale, LaQuan Hightower (285) began OPRF's march with a 2-1 double overtime win.  Jake Venerable (119), Chris Dardanes (125), and Ellis Coleman (145) had huge pins for the Huskies.  The score was knotted at 15 apiece when the Huskies won 6 of the last 7 matches.  Nick Dardanes (#1 at 135 pounds) scored a dramatic victory over Andy Spangler (#2 at 140 pounds).  Trailing by 1, Nick scored a takedown with 5 seconds left to win 4-3.


OPRF defeats Downers Grove North 46-15

OPRF improved to 3-0 in the West Suburban (Silver).  No surprises here except for the starting lineup.  OPRF played a miniature game of "Tinker with the Lineup" and even fooled yours truly.  Two non-regulars started, and a regular bumped up a weight class.  The Huskie Highlight goes to that regular, Liam Pegg.  In defeat, Liam put up an impressive showing against Jimmy Nehls, a state qualifier from last year.  The score was tight for nearly the whole match, and Liam refused to be turned for any back points.  One wrestler of note that did not wrestle for Downers North was Joe Foreman.  Last year, Danny Martin defeated Joe Foreman in a tough match at sectionals.  These two may tangle again in the future.



OPRF defeats Glenbard West 59-9

OPRF Wrestling opened the doors on the 1 West Gym for the first time this season.  The Huskies won 11 matches: 5 falls, 3 tech falls, 2 majors, and 1 forfeit.  Chris Dardanes returned from injury with a technical fall.  Matt Monson increased his team-leading victory total to 11 (forfeit at 215).  OPRF's only match losses came from John Wilson (Dave Weaver, dec. 2-1), Kendall Hutchinson (Sam Littlehale, dec. 9-6), and Jake Venerable (Michael Letmanski, dec. 5-2).



Coming up this weekend!
posted Tuesday, 12/09/2008


  • Brian Woulfe is putting on his annual Holiday Movie (@ Lake Theater) this Sunday. Check out the attached flyer.  It would be great to see everyone on Sunday.  Reserve your spot by Wednesday, December 10!  View/Download Flyer here (PDF, 0.36 MB): Flyer.
  • The Huskies take on Glenbard West and Downers Grove North in conference competition. We wrestle Glenbard West Thursday night at home and DGN away on Friday. Saturday, the Varsity will wrestle in perhaps the toughest quad in the state. Glenbard North, West Aurora, and Neuqua Valley, all ranked in the top 10, will be there. The freshman will be at the Conant Invite on Saturday.  We hope everyone can come out this weekend to cheer on the Huskies.


OPRF sweeps its first quad

OPRF defeats Addison Trail 54-10, Notre Dame 60-3, and Conant 62-6.  OPRF wins 38 of 42 matches throughout the day.  Some notes from the day:

Joey Brown wrestled his first 3 matches of the year and won all three in convincing fashion.
Jake Venerable continued his very solid campaign.  I am astonished that he's unranked.
Frankie Picchiotti had a great debut, earning 12 team points while going 2-1.
Charlie Johnson dominated his opponents to go 3-0.
Danny Martin manhandled his competition with three technical falls in three matches.
Benny Brooks beat two highly ranked opponents in Joe Patricelli (Con.) and Arber Bebo (A. Trail).
Matt Monson is the machine that doesn't stop.  3 falls in 3 matches, including wrestling up at 285.



OPRF defeats York 33-25

OPRF wins 8 of 14 weights.  OPRF winners: Jake Venerable, Nick Dardanes, Aaron Minnis, Ellis Coleman, Danny Martin, Benny Brooks, Matt Monson, and LaQuan Hightower.

OPRF hosts Addison Trail, Conant, and Notre Dame today, Saturday, for a quad beginning at 9 AM.  A classic quad (or quadrangular) is when 4 teams wrestle one another in dual meets.  For example, OPRF might wrestle against Addison Trail while Notre Dame and Conant wrestle.  Then, OPRF might wrestle Notre Dane while Addison Trail and Conant wrestle, and so on.  In a classic quad, all four teams wrestle one another in dual meets.



OPRF is Feutz Fantastic!
Huskies take Conant tourney trophy - 11/29/2008


Oak Park-River Forest wins the 19 team Feutz Cougar Classic hosted by Conant!  OPRF surged to the team lead after the semifinals.  It was a nail biter until the second half of the medal round when OPRF reeled off eight straight victories to cement the title.  The match of the night went to Nick Dardanes.  Nick defeated a reigning undefeated state champion, Jimmy Chase, by a score of 8-5.  Nick was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, as voted by the coaches.

OPRF results by place: 1st - N. Dardanes, E. Coleman, D. Martin, S. Brooks; 2nd - C. Dardanes;
3rd - B. Brooks, M. Monson; 4th - K. Hutchinson, J. Venerable; 7th - J. Wilson, L. Hightower;
DNP - L. Pegg, A. Minnis.  OPRF's 103 pound weight class was forfeited.

For more information and an OPRF shout out, see Illinois Matmen's homepage.


Huskies defeat St. Pats 51-12!!
(Season Opener - 11/26/2008)

The Huskies won 11 of 14 matches to defeat the Shamrocks of St. Patrick by a score of 51-12.  Thank you to all of you who came out.

I've said it before; I'll say it again.  This is a special year.  If you haven't joined the OPRF Wrestling bandwagon yet, come aboard!  We can always make room for one more.

Here's a summary:

After losing the first two matches, OPRF ran off eight straight victories.  Included in this string was four consecutive pins for the Huskies.  OPRF match winners were (in order): Matt Monson, Kendall Hutchinson, Liam Pegg, Jake Venerable, Chris Dardanes, Nick Dardanes, Ellis Coleman, Aaron Minnis, Dan Martin, Jon Wilson, and Ben Brooks.  LaQuan Hightower lost a heartbreaker in triple overtime to kick off the season.  Sam Brooks wrestled the match of the night, narrowly losing to the #5 wrestler in the state.  OPRF forfeited the 103 pound weight class.  Thank you to all that came out.  Next up: OPRF is at the Conant tournament on Friday and Saturday (Nov. 28 and 29).

OPRF Lineup:

285: LaQuan Hightower L 3-3 TB
103: FFT
112: Kendall Hutchinson W 14-9
119: Liam Pegg W 11-1
125: Jake Venerable W 7-1
130: Chris Dardanes W F 3:38
135: Nick Dardanes W F 2:37
140: Ellis Coleman W F 2:20
145: Aaron Minnis W F 3:25
152: Dan Martin W TF 19-3
160: Sam Brooks L 8-7
171: Jon Wilson W 12-5
189: Ben Brooks W F 0:49
215: Matt Monson W 8-6



Stats, stats, stats!

Our Statistics page is now OPEN!  Follow the Varsity stats all season long with our easy to read stats table!  Through Conant, Varsity has a match record of 54-18.  Matt Monson (right) leads in the most statistical categories: 5!  Way to go, Matt!

Click here to view the statistics!

The Roster is set, too!



Parents' Night TONIGHT!

OPRF's second parents' night will be tonight, December 1st, at Molly Malone's in Forest Park.  The event starts at 7 PM.

Molly Malone's: 7653 Madison Street in Forest Park - Molly Malone's Website



Practice Has Begun!  Less than 2 days until St. Pats!

Wednesday, November 26 @ 6 PM (Varsity at 7:15 PM) - OPRF Field House

After the meet!  There is an Alumni/Wrestling Family get-together at Molly Malone's in Forest Park.  The Alumni/Wrestling reunion will take place immediately following the conclusion of the St. Pats meet.  Food will be served.  Fun will be had.  Norm Parker and Niall Collins will be in attendance.

Below are the full details of the Alumni/Wrestling Family reunion:

  • WHO: Alumni/Wrestling Family
  • WHEN: Immediately following the conclusion of the St. Pats meet on November 26
  • WHERE: Molly Malone's - 7653 Madison Street in Forest Park - Molly Malone's Website


This Wednesday (11/26) has so much to offer!

In addition to hosting various relatives from around the country, here are four things you can do to get your OPRF Wrestling fix this Wednesday:

  1. Begin your day by reading a season preview of this year's team in either the Wednesday Journal or the Oak Leaves YourSeason may also have a preview.
  2. Dive into the world that is Illinois Matmen rankings.  Team and individual rankings will be released on Wednesday.  Illinois Matmen rankings is a great place to see how Huskies stand against top competition.  It's also a great place to learn about teams and wrestlers who will face OPRF during the season.  OPRF is in class 3A (or AAA) for both team and individual.
  3. Go to the season opener against St. Patrick at the OPRF Field House!!!  Wrestling starts at 6 PM with Varsity at 7:15 PM.  Bring your family and friends, too!  This is going to be a special season.  Turn out so that you can say you were there from the beginning.
  4. After the conclusion of the dual meet on Wednesday, there is an Alumni/Wrestling Family get-together at Molly Malone's in Forest Park.  Click here for full details. 

Don't miss out!!  I know Wednesday will be busy, but it will be worth it!  Just remember, you can take it easy on Thursday!



Here are some important dates to note:

  • Monday, Nov. 10 - Practice begins.  Please review the calendar with your child.

  • Monday, Nov. 10 - Parents' Night at 7 PM at Molly Malone's (on Madison Street in Forest Park) for dinner and wrestling socialization.

  • Saturday, Nov. 15 - Parents Meeting at 11:45 AM at OPRF High School in the North Cafeteria.  All parents should attend.

  • Nov. 9-23 - Wrestler Fundraising by wrestlers.  Please ask your wrestler what he is doing.

  • Sunday, Nov. 23 - The Community Cleanup will take place.  Ask your wrestler for details.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 26 - Season Opener Dual Meet vs. St. Pats in the OPRF Field House.  Wrestling to begin at 6 PM with Varsity beginning at 7:15 PM.

Will you be one of our 1,000?  The Huskie Wrestling community has set a goal of 1,000 fans to come out to the Field House on November 26 to watch the nationally ranked Huskies as they battle St. Pats for the 32nd consecutive year.  Please come and bring your friends and family.



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