Loyola sends 4 to wrestling nationals. All 4 come home as All-Americans.
The evidence continues to mount in support of a Loyola Academy wrestling resurgence.
Four Ramblers wrestlers each earned the title of All-American at the renowned USA Wrestling Junior National Championships from July 16-22 in Fargo, North Dakota.
Rising Loyola senior Massey Odiotti, of Northbrook, led the way by advancing all the way to the national title match in the Greco-Roman bracket — a first for a Rambler. Just a few months ago, Odiotti (120 pounds) also made Loyola history by wresting in an IHSA title bout.
“I think I wrestled pretty well,” he said of the tournament. “I have been training in Greco and I was glad to make the finals.”
Odiotti added, though, he was upset he couldn’t come away with a national crown. He was leading his opponent — Kael Lauridsen, of Nebraska — 4-0 in the first period. Odiotti then lifted Lauridsen in a takedown attempt, but Lauridsen reversed the try and locked in for a pin.
It was Odiotti’s second trip to Fargo and his first All-America finish.
“He just trains hard. That’s all there is to it,” said Matt Collum, Loyola varsity wrestling coach. “He trains hard, loves wrestling and he’s gotten a lot better. … He was right there with one of the best guys in the country.”
Close to 7,000 youth wrestlers competed at the national championships in Fargo. The actual number, 6,646, was a record for the event.
To qualify for the national round, wrestlers had to advance through local and regional competition.
The three other Ramblers to make it to Fargo were incoming freshmen James Hemmila (4th Greco-Roman, 6th freestyle) and Gavin Pardilla (8th Greco-Roman) and rising sophomore Harlee Hiller (8th freestyle).
Hiller also made Ramblers’ history during the school year by medaling at the inaugural IHSA girls wrestling finals in March. Hiller finished third in the 105-pound weight class.
Hemmila and Pardilla are newcomers to the Loyola wrestling pipeline. Collum said since taking over the program three years ago, he’s worked hard to boost the program by making inroads with local wrestling programs, such as the Arlington Cardinals and Maine Eagles.
“That was my plan,” he said. “We (at Loyola) didn’t have much at that point and time but we kept getting better. We really had to hustle and work with some kids clubs around the area and create some interest around Loyola wrestling. There wasn’t a lot of interest when I took over.”
This past season, Loyola Academy sent a school-record four wrestlers to the state championships: Hiller (girls), Odiotti, Cooper Wettig and Quinn Herbert. The Ramblers also had seven competitors in the sectional round, and Collum was named the Chicago Catholic League coach of the year.
Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319