Oak Park-River Forest rests for quarterfinal clash with Sandburg
Updated: February 25, 2013 7:35PM
ROSELLE — Oak Park-River Forest has been looking forward to a rematch with Sandburg all season, but the Huskies had to first beat Conant Tuesday night in the Lake Park Sectional.
OPRF advanced to the Class 3A dual-team state quarterfinals for the fourth time in five years with a 47-15 win over the Cougars. The victory set up a duel for the ages at 9 a.m. Saturday in Bloomington, when Sandburg meets the Huskies in a repeat of last year’s state final. Sandburg won that match 30-24, while OPRF beat the Eagles 27-24 at the Sandburg Super Duals Jan. 12.
“They are the better wrestling team, but our kids can do things their kids can’t do,” OPRF coach Mike Powell said. “We know it will be a battle.”
The Huskies (33-1) will seek a second Class 3A state title to go along with their crown from 2009.
Conant (13-6) won the first two matches Tuesday, before the Huskies took the next four. Freshman Isaiah White’s technical fall over Zack Davis at 132 began the run, followed by pins by Jake O’Mara, Johnny Gahagan and Kamal Bey.
The most exciting match was at 170, where OPRF freshman Allen Stallings recorded a takedown at the buzzer to defeat Nico Gottardo 8-7 and put the Huskies ahead 26-12.
When Stallings was pushed out of bounds as the third period was winding down, he peeked at the clock to see six seconds remaining.
“It was tough coming out of the state meet,” Stalling said. “I had to regroup myself, come back and work hard. (My win) was very exciting. I looked at (the clock) and just went for it. I took the last shot.”
Conant opened the dual meet with wins by 120-pounder Marcus Williams and 126-pounder Bobby Alexander.
“We knew going in that it was going to be a dogfight,” Conant coach Chad Hay said. “They sat a few of their starters and we thought we could take advantage of that. They are going to something special (at state).”
Powell said he expects to use eight freshmen and sophomores against Sandburg, while the Eagles will have eight seniors in their lineup.
“We’ve had our eye on Sandburg for a long time. We know what we’re expecting going in,” Powell said.
Powell was able to use reserves, like Joe Robles and Savonne Bennette, to rest individual state qualifiers Matthew Rundell, Davonte Mahomes and Andre Lee. Undefeated 182-pound state champion Joe Ariola pinned Elias Gardner to improve to 47-0 on the season.