Huskies advance 11 wrestlers to state meet
Park Ridge, IL - Saturday, February 9, 2013: Maine West's Steve Apple wrestles Conant's Bobby Alexander at 120 pounds at the Maine East Sectional. | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 8:00PM
PARK RIDGE — The top-ranked Oak Park-River Forest wrestling team enjoyed a record-setting performance Saturday at the Class 3A Maine East Sectional.
The Huskies placed 11 of their 13 sectional qualifiers in the finals and came away with four sectional champions and seven runners-up in preparation for the state tournament, which begins Thursday night in Champaign.
The haul eclipsed last year’s count of seven state qualifiers for the state runner-up dual-team finisher.
“I came out of (Saturday) knowing we can win five or six more matches next week (at each class),” OPRF coach Mike Powell said.
The three OPRF wrestlers who came into the meet unbeaten remained so. Larry Early (42-0) at 132 pounds, Davonte Mahomes (40-0) at 160 and Joe Ariola (42-0) at 182 all won their brackets. Four wrestlers will make repeat trips to the state meet: Matthew Rundell, Early, Mahomes and Ariola. Mahomes was the only OPRF wrestler to repeat his sectional title.
All five OPRF freshmen advanced, led by 106 champion Roberto Campos (36-8), who started the finals with a pin over Glenbard East’s Carlos Fuentez (16-3) in 3:23. The other freshmen to qualify are Gabe Townsell (36-9) at 113, Isaiah White (43-1) at 126, Kamal Bey (26-4) at 152 and Allen Stallings (19-15) at 170.
Junior Johnny Gahagan (34-7) at 145 and junior Andre Lee (31-8) at 195 will make their state meet debuts. Gahagan last season finished fourth in the sectional and missed advancing to state.
“It feels good, but I knew I could win that match,” Gahagan said. “I could have had a better seed Downstate, but now I’ve got some work to do (at state).”
Lee, who has wrestled with a heavy wrap to protect a broken left hand, lost to Wheaton North’s Kellen Cleveland after allowing a takedown with 22 seconds remaining.
Two other sectional qualifiers had their season end prematurely. Senior Jake O’Mara lost in the wrestleback semifinals at 138 and sophomore heavyweight Adam Lempke-Bell could not compete after discovering that his right hand was broken on Tuesday. He had finished third at the York Regional.