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News Archive - Most Recent News Is at the Top

2009-2010 Postseason


Honoring the honorable: Season banquet done in Huskie Style
Bountiful feast, highlight video lead into deserved recognition all around · 04/05/2010

Stuffed: food in belly; family in room; recognition in hearts.

Families, friends, wrestlers, and coaches congregated as one in the north cafeteria of Oak Park & River Forest High School on Monday.  The occasion?  All of us.  All of you.  Without your support, we couldn't be what we are: unmistakably...without equivocation...the best high school wrestling program in this great state.

First, the food.  What a cornucopia!  Many thanks all around.  The highlight video didn't disappoint.  The meat of the night were the awards.  I believe I said it last year, but it's worth noting that -- in my humble opinion -- Mike Powell is a gifted, engaging speaker.  But tonight was about the wrestlers.  They are the light source that illuminates all that is the Huskie Wrestling Family.

It was a night to behold, and here are the award winners:


Takedown King Jake O'Mara | Pin King Joe Ariola | MVP Joe Ariola | Coaches Sam Koenigsburg


MVP Jordan Patush


ROY Tony Manetti | Most Improved Brock Friesen | Tough Guy Ben Brooks |
Susan Collins
Charlie Johnson | Takedown King Nick Dardanes | Pin King Nick Dardanes |
Chris Dardanes | Co-MVP Nick Dardanes | Norm Parker Nick Dardanes

In warm tributes, each of the sixteen graduating seniors was recognized with his own individualized acknowledgement.  Our heartfelt recognition to these fine young men -- through the trials, tribulations, failures, successes, hiccups, growth; we would never be the same Huskie Family without each one of you.  Here are the Senior Sixteen:

  LaQuan Hightower Sean Jackson Ben Brooks David Vogel
  Phil Valentini Brock Friesen Tony Manetti Willie Ariola
  Andrew Davenport Nick Dardanes Justin Jurczak Nick Ver Halen
  Chris Dardanes Charlie Johnson Mitch Valentini Jordan Patush

Onward and upward, gentlemen.  "Once a Huskie, always a Huskie."



End of the season banquet is on Monday, April 5, at 6:30 pm
Pot luck concludes with all squads being honored; season awards to be presented · 04/02/2010


Good eats after a great season...

The 2009-2010 IHSA wrestling season will officially come to a close on Monday, April 5, in the south cafeteria of OPRF high school.  At 6:30 pm, pot luck food will be served along with great recognition and memories.

When & Where | Monday, April 5 - OPRF High School (south cafeteria) - 6:30 pm

Food to Bring | Frosh - salad or appetizer | Soph - dessert | Junior - entree | Senior - entree

Behold an evening to be paralleled by none other!  View the flyer!

OPRF is trophy town USA!  There is a new award for Huskie wrestlers: the Norm Parker Stall Out Award.  This award goes to Varsity wrestlers who get their opponent penalized to the point of being disqualified from the match.

Aaron Minnis gets the 2009 Norm Parker Stall Out Award
Nick Dardanes gets the 2010 Norm Parker Stall Out Award



Matticks is magic: Andrew Matticks wins IKWF Midget State
Andrew outscores his opponents 29-2 in state tournament · 03/21/2010

Little Huskie member Drew Matticks won the 2010 IKWF Midget State title at 95 pounds.  He defeated Jake Meyer (Barrington Broncos) in the championship by a score of 2-0.  The two day tournament culminated on Sunday, March 21.  It was held in Danville, IL.  Congratulations, Andrew!



Let the kids play: Quartet of Little Huskies compete in IKWF state
Matt Kleinkopf the lone place-winner in the Rockford tournament · 03/13/2010

Little Huskie qualifiers stand for picture.  Click to enlarge.

Four Little Huskies earned spots in the IKWF (Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation) state championships that were held over the weekend in Rockford, IL.

Little Huskie state qualifiers |

  • Jaleel Hollingsworth (Novice - 66 pounds)

  • Matt Kleinkopf (Novice - 108 pounds - 8th place)

  • Andrew Borgdorff (Novice - 122 pounds)

  • Joshua Mitchell (Novice - 215 pounds)

Matt Kleinkopf (8th) stands on the podium.  Click to enlarge.

More information on Matt Kleinkopf:

Matt, age 12, finished the 2009-10 IKWF season placing 8th at the Illinois Novice/Senior State Championships Novice 108 lbs, with a record of 29-7, with 25 pins, including 3 pins in the IKWF Novice/Senior State Championships this weekend; following an off-season which included an All-American 7th Place Finish at the USAW ASICS Folkstyle National Championships Novice 85 in Cedar Falls IA, and Double All-American 7th Place / 7th Place Finishes at the USAW ASICS Freestyle and Greco National Championships Novice 90 in Orem, UT.  Matt began wrestling 4 years ago with the Little Huskies Wrestling Club and hopes to wrestle for OPRF Wrestling Head Coach Mike Powell in the future.

Congratulations to these four and to all of the Little Huskie wrestlers, coaches, and parents!

For more information, clickLittle Huskies  |  IKWF



Numbers game: IHSA season statistics are final
Nick Dardanes' school record 279 takedowns among the highlights · 03/07/2010

The 2009-2010 IHSA season has concluded.  The final statistics have been tallied.  Here is an overview of the results:

Team |

  • Record: 19-3 overall, 6-0 conference; tied for 5th in state

Bout record |

  • Wins: 47 - Chris Dardanes, Nick Dardanes

  • Losses: 1 - Isaac Chadri, Nick Dardanes, Andrew Davenport, Eddie Guen-Murray

Victories by |

  • Decision: 17 - Brock Friesen

  • Fall: 19 - Chris Dardanes

  • Technical Fall: 15 - Nick Dardanes

  • Major Decision: 11 - Chris Dardanes

  • Forfeit: 4 - Cameron Harris

  • Default: 1 - Sam Brooks, Chris Dardanes, Cameron Harris, Anthony Manetti, Frankie Picchiotti

  • Disqualification: 1 - Nick Dardanes

In match stats |

  • Takedowns: 279 (record) - Nick Dardanes

  • Near Fall (3): 43 - Sam Brooks

  • Near Fall (2): 21 - Sam Brooks

  • Reverses: 11 - Frankie Picchiotti

  • Escapes: 75 - Brock Friesen

Miscellaneous |

  • Quickest Pin: 0:43 - Frankie Picchiotti (01/16/2010 vs. Prospect)

  • High School Century Club: Chris Dardanes (162-20) and Nick Dardanes (165-16) | Combined totals from Fenwick and OPRF

  • OPRF Century Club: Ben Brooks (124-33)

  • Youngest State Champion in OPRF History: Sam Brooks (So., 160 pounds)

For full results, visit the 2009-2010 statistics page.  Also, check out the updated Wall of Fame.



Minooka'd: Indians too strong for Huskies in 33-22 win
OPRF eliminated from state tournament, unable to wrestle for trophy · 02/27/2010

The interior of U.S. Cellular Coliseum held the action.

The IHSA (Illinois High School Association) does not seed its teams in the dual team state tournament, nor does it allow any teams other than the quarterfinal victors to wrestle for a guaranteed team trophy.  Fans, athletes, and coaches have differing opinions on these two rules, but one thing is certain: the Oak Park-River Forest Huskies were affected by both on this day.

With a blind draw to determine dual team state quarterfinal pairings, the Huskies (ranked far too low at #9) and the Minooka Indians (ranked #1 in the state) received notification that they would butt heads.  Remember, only the winning team (regardless if the two teams were #1 and #2 in the state) would advance in the tournament.  The loser's season would be over.

It is my humble opinion that the Huskies were in the top four of the eight teams that remained until today.  The individual tournament seeds the top four wrestlers in each weight.  The dual team tournament does not.  With a seeding, the Huskies would undoubtedly wrestle for a trophy.  No matter; rules are rules.  Regulations are regulations.  And, no matter what happens, Huskies are Huskies.

The dual began at 145 pounds.  Nick Dardanes got the ball rolling with a warning disqualification of Kevin Akers.  Also, Minooka was assessed a team point penalty for misconduct.  One-fourteenth in, OPRF led 6-(-1).  At 152, state qualifiers quarreled as Kalvin Hill outpointed Charlie Johnson.  Sammy Brooks and the Huskies countered with a fall victory.  The 171 bout pit Brock Friesen against Mitch Brozovitch.  In a seesaw affair, Brozovitch won 13-11.  OPRF led 12-5 after four contests.  The Indians struck again at 189 with a 5-2 decision over talented Nick Kowalczuk, a talented freshman.  The Huskies took the next two with decisions by LaQuan Hightower (over Brandon Haase) and Ben Brooks (over Cody Jones).

Halfway through the dual, OPRF led 18-8.  Minooka's strength at the lower weights showed why they are ranked #1 in Class 3A.  The Indians went five-for-five in the next string of bouts.  Corbert Oughton (decision), Leo Ruettiger (major), Jake DeKlerk (tech fall), Bobby Zabel (decision), and Blake Montella (major) scored team points for Minooka.  With two bouts remaining, the Huskies trailed 27-18.  Chris Dardanes scored a major decision victory over Sean Kenny to close the gap to 27-22, but Jake Residori flexed his muscles in a second period pin to seal the deal for Minooka.

Box score | box score

The Huskies finished the season with a conference record of 6-0 and a dual record of 19-3.  In six seasons as OPRF's head coach, Mike Powell has a 110-16 record (87.3 %).

Despite the numerical loss, Huskie Nation is in awe at the gains these fine young men achieve.  I saw it all season long.  "These kids are getting better," I would say to myself.  And, of course, the wrestlers improved in more areas than just athletics.

Although the IHSA season has concluded, there will be spring and summer wrestling.  Many of the Orange & Blue Wrecking Crew will wrestle on this club.  Perhaps there will be new students joining the ranks of this very beautiful, rewarding, and fun sport.

"Show class, have pride, and display character.  If you do, winning takes care of itself." ~ Paul Bryant.

These wrestlers...these young men...these student athletes....  They are winners.



State of affairs: OPRF at team state this Saturday to end season
Huskies face Minooka in quarterfinal; OPRF must beat Indians to medal · 02/24/2010

For the second year, U.S. Cellular Coliseum will host.

At 11 am (approximately) on Saturday, OPRF will wrestle in the building where they won the 2009 Class 3A team title -- against the Minooka Indians.  With eight teams remaining in each class, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place team trophies are up for grabs.  In the top half of the Class 3A bracket is Sandburg vs. Plainfield Central and Libertyville vs. Barrington.  These duals will take place at 9 am.  At 11 am (approx.), the bottom half of the 3A bracket will take place: OPRF vs. Minooka and Leyden vs. Glenbard North.  The semifinal round will be wrestled at 2:00 pm with the winners of the top half and bottom half of the bracket.  Medal round duals are slated to begin at 6:00 pm.

Here are the details:

Where | U.S. Cellular Coliseum (Bloomington, IL) - 101 S. Madison St., Bloomington, IL, 61701
When | Saturday at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 2:00 pm (Session One), Saturday at 6:00 pm (Session Two - Championship Round)
Admission | $7.00 for each session (per IHSA)
Place-winners | Top 4 in each class (semifinalists only)

State bracket | bracket | Tournament information | time schedule and info sheet
Tournament preview | preview

Follow online LIVE (or just about) | video on

Reasons to come out | 1) Huskie Pride; 2) Defending state champions; 3) Orange & Blue Wrecking Crew

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.



Slaying a lion: OPRF advances to Bloomington with 38-27 victory
Huskies defeat Lyons Township to advance to Dual Team State for for 2nd straight year · 02/23/2010

The six teams prepare for the three duals.

On Tuesday night, OPRF scored a victory over its conference rival, Lyons Township.  With its 38-27 victory, the Huskies (19-2 record) advance to U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, IL, this Saturday.  Also advancing were Minooka and Montini (Class 2A).  OPRF will face the Minooka Indians in the quarterfinal round this Saturday.

The OPRF/LT dual began at 215 pounds.  Ben Brooks defeated Joe Gonzalez via decision, and LaQuan Hightower did the same against Brian Pieroth.  Cameron Harris battled tough and defeated Conor Condon to give the Huskies an early 9-0 lead.  The Lions took the next two with victories by Bob Gavrick and Carter Beebe.  Frankie Picchiotti avenged his loss against LT's Kevin Reimer by majoring his 125 pound opponent.  The Lions' Drew Bates won by fall to give Lyons a 16-13 lead.  OPRF scored consecutive falls of their own with Chris Dardanes (135) and Anthony Manetti (140).  Nick Dardanes tech falled Lucas Polka before RJ Dilcher repeating the feat for the Lions.  At 160, Charlie Johnson played copycat by scoring a tech fall of his own to extend OPRF's lead to 35-21.  After an OPRF forfeit at 171 (the Huskies already had the dual win) and a Huskie victory by Eddie Guen-Murray at 189, the final score read 38-27.

Huskie Highlight: Eddie Guen-Murray.  Eddie controlled his opponent for the entire match despite the inability to gain any takedowns in two periods.  Eddie wore his opponent down by the third where he dominated by scoring three takedowns to take the 7-4 tilt.  Congratulations, Eddie!

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.



Lion in the way: Huskies to host three duals on Tuesday
to determine advancement to team state
OPRF HS hosts Lyons Township, four others · 02/22/2010

Come out to OPRF one last time this season.

Refocused.  This Tuesday night holds three duals in the Field House of OPRF High School.  Your Huskies will battle the Lions of Lyons Township, our conference rival, for the right to compete in the 8-team IHSA Dual Team State Tournament in Bloomington, IL, this Saturday.  Also competing in head-to-head affairs are Minooka/Lockport (also Class 3A) and Montini/Uplift (Class 2A).

As it just so happens, the winner of the OPRF/Lyons Township dual will face the winner of the Minooka/Lockport dual in the quarterfinal round of Saturday's tournament.  Saturday's tournament also marks the conclusion to the 2009-2010 IHSA wrestling season.

Wrestling begins at 6 pm.  Come to cheer on the Huskies!

Dual Team State bracket | brackets

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.



Easy as 1, 2, 3: Huskies earn three individual titles in Champaign
Ben Brooks sets table; Chris Dardanes, Nick Dardanes, Sam Brooks all top state · 02/20/2010

Left to right: Ben, Chris, Sam, Charlie, LaQuan, Nick (Photo by Brian Tideman)

What a night!  What a tournament!  After Champaign's war of attrition, three of OPRF's best remain standing, one shakes off a national power before dismantling the state of Illinois, and two put forth mammoth efforts with, unfortunately, non-placing results.

Place-winners (in chronological order of achievement):

Ben Brooks (189, Sr.) THIRD PLACE | Ben came into the tournament on a collision course with Lee Munster (Grant) in the quarterfinals.  Munster is a nationally ranked wrestler (as high as #2) who has only lost once in two years.  In that match, Ben put forth a battle, but Munster proved to be too strong.  In the consolation round, Ben stayed focused and controlled after falling behind 12-7 to Joe LaManna (Schaumburg) to come back and win 17-14.  It was lights out after that.  Ben won by 7, a fall, and 8 points over the #11, #12, and #5 ranked wrestlers respectively en route to a well deserved consolation championship as the third place winner.  Ben's dominance and getting-the-job-done attitude firmly set the stage for the three wrestlers in the finals.

Chris Dardanes (135, Sr.) FIRST PLACE | Chris's bracket was perhaps the toughest in the tournament.  All four semifinal wrestlers -- Chris, Blaise Butler (Boylan), Mikey Avelar (Brother Rice), Luke Smith (Wheeling) -- all were considered potential champions by many.  Tyler Argue (Mt. Carmel) added to the strength of the bracket by defeating Butler in the consolation bracket.  Chris ignored the extra attention and let two things -- above all -- shine through: his skill and his will.  In the semis, Chris picked apart Butler (whom Chris defeated in an exhibition earlier this year).  In the finals, Chris faced Smith, a wrestler that defeated Chris in last year's third place bout.  Chris took a lead early but faced a 3-2 deficit in the third.  With about 30 seconds left, Chris took down Smith at the edge of the mat.  Chris rode Smith and held his grip as the final second ticked away.

Nick Dardanes (140, Sr.) FIRST PLACE | Nick was a state champion last year, as you recall, and had to maintain focus to earn a repeat performance.  After manhandling his first three opponents easily, Nick stood face to face with Eric Oyster (Plainfield Central).  Oyster previously wrestled 152 during the year but dropped his weight to 140 pounds for the state series.  Oyster's height and body type were a slight puzzle to solve as the score was tied 1-1 in the third period.  Nick was never in real trouble despite his inability to score on Oyster.  Oyster was strong on defense and quickly escaped danger by flipping the action into a stalemate.  Nick scored a takedown in the third period and calmly fended off all attacks by Oyster, the #2 ranked wrestler in the state.

Sam Brooks (160, So.) FIRST PLACE | Sam competed in this year's tournament after missing the medal stand in last year's affair by only one win.  Sam lost to the eventual third place winner in 2009.  In 2010, Sam was tested early.  His first opponent was #4 ranked Shane Siefert (Carmel).  Sam easily won by a score of 16-6.  Sam added two more major decisions in the quarters and semis to reach the Grand March and the championship match.  As Sam was wrestling his semifinal match, the #1 ranked seed, Nick Proctor (Neuqua Valley) lost to Joe Strocchia (Hinsdale Central).  Sam had beaten Strocchia by a score of 13-3 in this year's dual with the Red Devils.  Strocchia wrestled the tournament of his life and scored a takedown against Sam in the championship bout.  However, Sam scored a takedown of his own and earned two back points that proved to be the difference in a 5-3 championship decision.

If I may, let me share a few words about Charlie Johnson and LaQuan Hightower. 

Charlie has been a force all year and started the state finals in the same fashion, handing Jacob Gingerish (Bradley-Bourbonnais) his fifth loss this season.  In the quarters, Charlie ran into a buzz saw and the eventual champ in Steve Congenie (Willowbrook).  In the wrestlebacks, Charlie gave his all but fell to a very talented wrestler.  In his senior season, Charlie has been a monumental and integral part of this team.  Thus far, I have two favorite "Chuckles" moments.  In a dual versus Downers Grove North, Charlie shouldered the fate of his team in a win to end the meet (and seal the team victory).  My second memory is when, at the Dvorak tournament, Charlie rode, turned, and pinned RJ Dilcher of Lyons.  Dilcher placed fifth in Champaign this past Saturday.  Ah, the memories.

LaQuan has wrestled with a blend of talent and heart all year long.  After returning from injury, LaQuan enjoyed throwing around wrestlers his own size for once.  LaQuan did an amazing job as a state-qualifying heavyweight last year.  In 2010, LaQuan won his first round match at Assembly Hall over #7 ranked Shaquille McMurtry (Lockport).  In the quarters, LaQuan lost to the eventual champ in Matt Dwyer (Hononegah).  In the consolation bracket, LaQuan battled #6 ranked Rob Bain (Bolingbrook) and wrestled a relentless match.  Unfortunately, Bain scored a late takedown to advance.  LaQuan has wrestled so well for the Huskies over the years.  One match that stands out is his takedown and pin against Edwardsville's heavyweight in the dual team state series.  All I have to say is, "Blast off!"

Congratulations on a fine individual season, gentlemen, and we look forward to seeing you in the Team State tournament!

Review the results | brackets | video on

View match videos (all but finals videos) on  View the site to see videos when available.

Enjoy this through Monday.  On Tuesday, turn your attention to Lyons Township and the rest of the Class 3A opponents in the team tournament.  The team will be back in action this Tuesday night at 6 pm at OPRF.



Three Huskies in the semis; one still alive in consolation
1 day down; 1 day to go · 02/19/2010

Assembly Hall can barely contain the action.

Chris Dardanes (135), Nick Dardanes (140), and Sam Brooks (160) are in the semifinals.  Each are guaranteed no worse than 6th (a medal), but with a win in the semis, each guarantees a spot in the championship.

Chris next faces Blaise Butler of Boylan.  In his bracket, all top 4 wrestlers remain.  Nick is next up against Andy Kovalsky of Naperville Central.  In his opposite bracket sit the #2 and #3 ranked wrestlers (Nick is ranked #1).  Sam wrestles Eric Moreno of Bartlett.  Top seeded and ranked Nick Proctor still remains on the other side.

Ben Brooks (189) fell to the #1 ranked Lee Munster in the quarterfinals before defeating his first opponent in the wrestle backs.  With another win, Ben also guarantees no worse than 6th.  Ben faces Jon White of West Chicago for that requisite win.

Charlie Johnson (152) and LaQuan Hightower (215) both won a match in Champaign and both proceeded to the consolation bracket after falling to tough as nails opponents.  Unfortunately, both were unable to advance in the consolation bracket.

Note: consolation = wrestle backs

Wrestling continues Saturday at 8:30 am; finals begin at 6:30 pm.

If you can't make it down this year, you can follow the action with the results on and -- new this year -- video on

Individual pairings & brackets | brackets | Tournament time schedule | time schedule

Follow online LIVE (or just about) | brackets | video on

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.



Assembly line: 6 Huskies in individual title hunt this weekend
Follow the leader format as top six in each weight class receive a medal · 02/15/2010

Chris Dardanes (135), Nick Dardanes (140), Charlie Johnson (152), Sam Brooks (160), Ben Brooks (189), and LaQuan Hightower (215) will each compete in a 16-wrestler bracket to determine the state champion (and six place-winners) at his weight.

Wrestling will take place at Assembly Hall in Champaign, IL.  Wrestling will begin at 8:30 on Friday and Saturday and will last all day long.

If you can't make it down this year, you can follow the action with the results on and -- new this year -- video on

Here are the details:

Where | Assembly Hall (University of Illinois) - 1800 S. First St., Champaign, IL 61820
When | Friday at 8:30 pm (Session One), Friday at 6:00 pm (Session Two), Saturday at 8:30 am (Session Three), and Saturday at 4:30 pm (Session Four - Championship Round)
Admission | $8.00 (general admission) or $10.00 (reserved) for each session (per IHSA)
Place-winners | Top 6 in each weight class
Qualifying wrestlers from | All Class 3A schools

Individual pairings & brackets | brackets | Tournament time schedule | time schedule

Follow online LIVE (or just about) | brackets | video on

Follow the leader format | Only wrestlers who lose to opponents who, in turn, make it to the semifinals enter the consolation bracket.  Of the 16 wrestlers, two will make it to the finals while ten others will duke it out for places 3-6.  If you make it to the semifinals, you are guaranteed no worse than 6th (i.e., you are guaranteed a medal).

Photos | It is my understanding that you can order photos of the place-winners through  Last year, a local newspaper allowed me to be floor-side where I was able to take several pictures.  I am not taking any pictures of wrestlers this year.

Reasons to come out | 1) Huskie Pride; 2) Witness Huskie History; 3) Wrestling always cures that winter blues!

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.



Huskie 6: OPRF sends half a dozen wrestlers to Champaign
Five seniors and one sophomore will sip some "Champaign" this weekend · 02/13/2010

The De La Salle Meteors welcomed fans and foes.

The De La Salle Individual Sectional combined wrestlers from four regionals.  After the dust settled, OPRF qualified six wrestlers to Individual State:

De La Salle Place-winners | Chris Dardanes (2nd @ 135), Nick Dardanes (1st @ 140), Charlie Johnson (3rd @ 152), Sam Brooks (1st @ 160), Ben Brooks (1st @ 189), and LaQuan Hightower (3rd @ 215)

Wrestlers from De La Salle that did not qualify for state were Cameron Harris (103), Colin Rogers (119), Frankie Picchiotti (125), Chirino Watson (130), Tony Manetti (145), and Brock Friesen (171).

Photos (Small) | Nick Dardanes | Charlie Johnson | Sam Brooks | Ben Brooks | LaQuan Hightower

Photos (Large) | Nick Dardanes | Charlie Johnson | Sam Brooks | Ben Brooks | LaQuan Hightower

My apologies to Chris Dardanes.  My batteries died just as he was stepping onto the podium.  I rushed to change, but it appears my shot is not nearly as quick as his shot.

Complete bracket | click here

Chris wrestled extremely well until a mistake against Mikey Avelar (Brother Rice) cost him the sectional title.  These two would not meet again until the state championship.  Nick continued his dominance in the 140 pound division with strong victories over the #3 and #11 wrestlers in the state.  He majored #3 Luke Nelson (also of Brother Rice) in the championship.  Charlie started and ended strong, hiccupping only against the #1 wrestler in the state, Malik Taylor (you guessed it, Brother Rice).  In the 3rd place bout, Charlie Johnson's throw against his Proviso West opponent even made a Greco man like Mike Powell smile.

Sam, only a sophomore, had no difficulty in any of his three matches.  He scored a sweat-free technical fall victory over #12 Nick Gelsosomo of Mt. Carmel in the finals.  Ben had little trouble getting to the finals (in the process dispatching of talented Jim Nudera -- yes, that Nudera -- of York).  In the finals, Ben Brooks faced #12 Rasheen Lemon of Proviso West.  It was a great 1-1 battle until the last seconds when Ben took down Lemon for a 3-1 lead.  It finished 3-2 after Lemon's escape.  LaQuan lost a razor thin semifinal match.  Like Ben, 'Quan was tied 1-1 in the final seconds.  He and his opponent shot at the same time.  Both were slightly disoriented, and Ameen Solebo of Mather recovered an inch quicker to get behind LaQuan.  LaQuan then defeated Steve Sreniawski (Fenwick) and Joe Gonzalez (Lyons) to end his tournament.

If I may, let me share a few words about Cameron Harris, Colin Rogers, Frankie Picchiotti, Chirino Watson, Tony Manetti, and Brock Friesen.  This six-some includes just two seniors: Tony and Brock.  Cameron has improved in strides this year.  Just a sophomore, Cameron has one of the meanest cradles I've seen.  He has learned from past tribulations.  Two cases: Cameron lost to Sommers of Notre Dame 17-4.  A month later, Cameron beat Sommers 6-3.  Also, Cameron lost to Hinrichs of Edwardsville by fall.  The next day, Cameron won 15-10.  Colin has filled in exceptionally well as the 119 pounder on this squad, with a record of 16-10 in that weight class.  Also a sophomore, Colin has much to show for his efforts, including his first regional title. 

Frankie Picchiotti has blazed his way in the 125 pound weight class after switching over this year from 130.  He bested an undefeated wrestler in late December in Granite City, and on Saturday, he made a wrestler with a 31-11 record look like a rag doll as Frankie repeatedly turned this opponent for a quick technical fall in 2:10 -- perhaps the fastest this season. Chirino Watson has had many great accomplishments thus far in the season.  A team highlight took place when Chirino won against his Glenbard North opponent; this win was vital in the team victory against the Panthers.  An individual highlight took place when Chirino wrestled his tail off at Granite City to finish in the top 8.

Tony has had some nice tournament finishes this year including his "turtle head" pop out at last weekend's regional tournament.  At perhaps the toughest quad in the state, Tony swept his West Aurora, Glenbard North, and Neuqua Valley opponents.  I give Tony lots of credit for wrestling against heavier competition all year.  Brock has come into his own in the 171 pound weight class.  He has matured into a top 12 wrestler in the state, without question.  At De La Salle, Brock avenged an earlier loss to Alex Ortiz of St. Patrick before falling to -- but outwrestling -- David Lutz of Hinsdale Central.  In the biggest stages, Brock has come up "Brock" solid.

Congratulations on a fine individual season, gentlemen, and we look forward to seeing you in the Team State tournament!



De La Salle redux: OPRF brings a dozen to Individual Sectionals
Top four in each weight class qualify for state · 02/08/2010

Last year, OPRF came to De La Salle High School to battle wrestlers from four Regionals.  Seven Huskies qualified for state.  Without question, the Orange and Blue Wrecking Crew want to best that total in this year's effort.  Individual Sectionals is a two-day tournament that begins on Friday evening.  One change from last year is that this tournament will no longer maintain a follow-the-leader format.  Each wrestler will have to lose twice to be eliminated.  Also of note: team scores mean nothing in this tournament and are not officially kept.

Here are the details:

Where | De La Salle High School - 3455 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL 60616 (35th and Michigan)
When | Friday at 4:30 pm (Session One), Saturday at 10:00 am (Session Two), and Saturday at 3:00 pm (Session Three - Championship Round)
Admission | $5.00 for each session (per IHSA)
Advancement | Top 4 in each weight class
Qualifying wrestlers from | OPRF, St. Ignatius, Curie, De La Salle, Dunbar, Gage Park, Juarez, Kelly, Urban Prep, Fenwick, Morton, Reavis, St. Laurence, Hubbard, Kennedy, York, Proviso West, Hinsdale Central, Lyons Township, Proviso East, Argo, Clemente, Foreman, Lane, Mather, Northside, Prosser, Schurz, St. Patrick, Taft, Von Steuben, Leyden, Bogan, Brother Rice, Chicago Vocational, Hyde Park, Julian, Mt. Carmel, Simeon, South Shore, St. Rita, Oak Lawn

Reasons to come out | 1) Huskie Pride; 2) The competition is beginning to heat up; 3) What else will you be doing leading up to Valentine's Day?

*Print the brackets before you come to De La Salle* (see below)

De La Salle brackets | official: click here |  (unofficial): click here

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.

Oak Leaves/Your Season Regional Review/Sectional Preview | click here



Perfect 10: Huskies crown double digit champions while
blowing away competition at St. Ignatius Regional
OPRF earns second straight regional victory · 02/06/2010

Count 'em: 10 bracket victories and 1 team title. (Photo by Brian Tideman)
Click on image for slightly larger photo.

There were many "repeat performances" at this year's Regional compared to last.  For the second year in a row, OPRF won the Regional title by a landslide.  For the second year in a row, OPRF advanced 12 wrestlers to Sectionals.  For the second year in a row, the championship round began far later in the day than had been scheduled by the tournament managers.  And, due to the Regional title, for the second year in a row, OPRF won the right to compete in the dual team tournament (Team Sectionals versus rival Lyons Township at OPRF on 02/23).

What was interesting from the get-go was that there were only two mats in play.  In the past, I had only seen Regionals wrestled with three mats.  Also from the get-go, the Huskies dominated.  Ten first-place wrestlers, one second-place wrestler, one third-place wrestler, and contributions from two other wrestlers propelled the Orange and Blue to a blowout in team scoring (259 championship points compared to 138.5 points for second-place De La Salle).

Miscellaneous photos (by Brian Tideman): During | Championship lineup | Third-place lineup | After

For images of each wrestler on the medal stand, click on each wrestler's name below.

Here are your results | For completed bracket, click here.

1st Place: 119 Colin Rogers (So.) | 125 Frankie Picchiotti (Jr.) | 135 Chris Dardanes (Sr.) |
140 Nick Dardanes (Sr.) | 145 Tony Manetti (Sr.) | 152 Charlie Johnson (Sr.) |
160 Sam Brooks (So.) | 171 Brock Friesen (Sr.) | 189 Ben Brooks (Sr.) | 215 LaQuan Hightower (Sr.)

2nd Place: 103 Cameron Harris (So.)

3rd Place: 130 Chirino Watson (Jr.)

Did not qualify for Sectionals: 112 Darius Henry (Fr.) | 285 Marq Brumant (So.)

If I may, let me share a few words about Darius Henry and Marq Brumant.  Darius is a freshman who has loads of athleticism and dominance potential.  I am anxious to watch as he refines his craft.  He was a pesky adversary to Bob Gavrick of Lyons (a top ranked wrestler in the state), giving him all he could handle for the bulk of the match.  Kudos to you, Darius, for your efforts thus far.  Marq is a sophomore who finished 4th at the Regional (with only the top 3 advancing).  In perhaps the first tournament this year, Marq's first name was spelled correctly.  Our sincerest apologies for that, Marq, and our gratitude as well.  Marq's contributions were vital, in particular in the Downers Grove North dual.  In that barnburner, Marq's decisive takedown in a grinder match was essential in our team victory.  Congratulations on a fine individual season, gentlemen, and we look forward to seeing you in the Team State tournament!

Oh, and happy birthday, Mike Powell (02/07)!



Post-it note: Huskies begin title defense at St. Ignatius on Sat.

Your 2009 Class 3A State Champion OPRF Huskies will begin their postseason with an individual tournament at St. Ignatius on Saturday.  Wrestling begins at 9 am.  Individual wrestlers must finish in the top three to advance to individual Sectionals (De La Salle on 2/12 and 2/13).  The top team at the St. Ignatius Regional will advance to Team Sectionals (OPRF on 2/23).

Here are the details:

Where | St. Ignatius High School - 1076 W. Roosevelt, Chicago, IL 60608
When | 9:00 am (Session One) and 1:00 pm (Session Two - Championship Round)
Admission | $4.00 for each session or $6.00 all day (per IHSA)
Advancement | Top 3 in each weight class
Teams | St. Ignatius, Curie, De La Salle, Dunbar, Gage Park, Juarez, Kelly, Urban Prep, Fenwick, OPRF

Reasons to come out | 1) Huskie Pride; 2) It's not too far; 3) I have a feeling it will be a good tourney if you're a fan of the Orange and Blue

For more on the postseason and IHSA wrestling in general, click here and navigate the information.

Oak Leaves/Your Season Regional Preview | click here



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