Huskie Pride: Inside OPRF wrestling

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Oak Park-River Forest wrestling coach Mike Powell and his wife Elizabeth Hess took time to pose with their dog Bea at their home in December. | Jon Langham~For Sun-Times Media

Mike Powell is a coach who likes to speak his mind. But sometimes his first thought is better off reserved as his second or third thought.

When the International Olympic Committee considered removing wrestling from the Olympics, Powell’s initial response in an email was concern with what powerful Russian authorities might think about the move. When Powell’s Oak Park-River Forest wrestling team lost in the Class 3A state dual-team quarterfinals, Powell was critical of one of the referees during the match. Powell speaks from his gut.


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What motivates Powell is his passion. His passion for the sport which led him to become an undefeated state champion at OPRF. His passion for his wrestlers, whom he reveres. He is passionate when he speaks, which has made him a master motivator as the Huskies continued their recent success with five state medalists, including a state champion in Joe Ariola last month.

A year ago, Powell began a series of media appearances to help bring publicity to his illness of polymyositis. Powell appeared on TV and even on an internet podcast. Powell even threw out the first pitch at the White Sox game June 8 against the Astros. Powell also found a partner to open his own business,, to hold clinics and sell videos.

Powell at U.S. Cellular Field. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times Media.

Last month, Pioneer Press ran a series of stories on Powell’s program looking at all aspects of OPRF wrestling.

Powell’s appearances included:

Sports Illustrated TV

ESPN’s E:60


WTTW-TV 11 podcast interview.

Powell was featured in stories by:

Chicago Tribune

Sports Illustrated

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