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After finishing the IHSA season Saturday, Oak Park-River Forest coach Mike Powell plans on going on a vacation with his wife and then it’s back to business March 11.
The Huskies lost in the Class 3A state dual-team quarterfinals to Sandburg, 33-23, at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The next phase of the wrestling season begins next month as Powell trains several of his wrestlers for the club season.
The veteran coach plans on sending many of his wrestlers to different club meets, including state for freestyle and Greco-Roman, the Folkstyle Nationals in Iowa and the season-ending USA Junior and Cadet Nationals in June in Fargo, N.D.
“We are going to kill in the offseason like we always do,” Powell said.
One of Powell’s projects in the offseason is to guide top returning wrestler Davonte Mahomes, a junior, to a top three spot at Fargo. Mahomes (46-1) was undefeated at OPRF this season until losing to Sandburg’s C.J. Brucki in the state individual meet. Mahomes beat Brucki 9-3 at the state dual-team meet.
“Going into the spring and summer (is important) now that he didn’t win (state),” Powell said of Mahomes. “He’s going to do some damage this summer.”
Last season, Mahomes won the Greco-Roman state championship at 160 pounds in the Junior Division while competing for the Flama Blanca club. He finished third at Cadet Nationals.
Of the 13 OPRF wrestlers to appear in the state quarterfinal, only three were seniors. Another youngster, freshman 113-pounder Gabe Townsell, missed his chance when both OPRF and Sandburg double-forfeited the match-ending bout.
Mahomes was one of four juniors to appear, along with Johnny Gahagan, Andre Lee and Malik Brumant. The sophomore starters were Matthew Rundell, Larry Early and Adam Lemke-Bell. Isaiah White, Kamal Bey and Roberto Campos are freshman, and another, Allen Stallings, did not wrestle when Powell gave senior Cory Cepak a start at 170.
Mahomes said the future is very bright for OPRF next season.
“As long as we buy into what Coach Powell tells us and what the other coaches on the staff tell us,” Mahomes said. “We have to listen to Coach Powell and what the other coaches say. They have never steered us in the wrong direction.”
All three OPRF captains from the state dual-team — Joe Ariola, Jake O’Mara and Zach Pickering — will graduate. Mahomes knows many of his teammates will look to him next season to be one of the leaders.
“This year I was kind of a co-captain, but now I know I may really be a captain. I know I’m going to have to shape up,” Mahomes said.~.