It wasn’t the way Massey Odiotti wanted to become Loyola’s first state wrestling champ, but the senior will take it.
Competing in the IHSA Class 3A 120-pound finals at State Farm Center for the second straight year, Odiotti just walked out on the mat, had his hand raised and walked off after making history on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Lockport freshman Justin Wardlow gutted out a 6-5 semifinal win over Maine South’s Teddy Flores on Friday night despite suffering a serious arm injury in the final period. Back at the arena on Saturday for the awards ceremony with his arm in a cast, Wardlow was a medical forfeit in the title bout against Odiotti.
“Bittersweet ending to my high-school career,” Odiotti said. “I’m sad that I didn’t get to end on a match. But I accomplished my goal of becoming a state champ.”
Odiotti (40-6) was one of two finalists for the Ramblers. Freshman Kai Calcutt (40-9) just missed making it two champs for a program that had only two state placers in its history before this weekend. Calcutt lost an ultimate tiebreaker 3-2 (sudden-death overtime) in the 220 final to Yorkville’s Ben Alvarez.
Getting to the top of the podium was the fulfillment of a four-year quest for Odiotti.
“That was the goal ever since I came here,” he said. “I wanted to be the first; I knew we hadn’t had any (champs). … So I wanted to come to the high school and kind of change the reputation, win the first state title.”
Before the forfeit, Odiotti, who was Loyola’s first state finalist when he was second at 120 last year, was dominant. He had two falls and a major decision in his first three state matches.
“It’s a big deal for the program,” Loyola coach Matt Collum said. “There’s no better kid for that to happen to than Massey.”
Calcutt wasn’t scared by the big stage, despite being the only freshman in his 16-man state bracket. He had three falls en route to the title bout, including a dramatic semifinal pin of top-seeded Marko Ivanisevic, of Hinsdale Central, in 6 minutes 57 seconds (third period).
“I knew I had a good chance,” Calcutt said of making the finals. “I mean, coming from a good middle-school career, coming into freshman (year) I knew I was going to do pretty decent. I just didn’t know who was going to be (competing) in high school.”
“Kai wrestled well all tournament,” Collum said. “We let some things get away from us in that last match but he was definitely pushing the pace and was pushing all the action. Just couldn’t get to him so it is what it is. …
“When he’s on his offense, he’s very, very hard to stop. And I think he showed that this tournament regardless of the outcome of that last match.”
Odiotti and Calcutt’s finishes capped off the greatest season in Loyola Academy wrestling history.
Besides getting their first individual champ and putting two wrestlers on the podium at state for the first time, the Ramblers set program bests for most sectional qualifiers (eight) and state qualifiers (five).
Two Loyola wrestlers went 1-2 at state: senior Patrick Zimmer (31-18) at 126 and junior Quinn Herbert (25-12 ) at 182. Freshman Gavin Pardilla (28-19), who drew eventual champ Seth Mendoza of Mount Carmel in his opener, competed at 113.
The other area state qualifier, Highland Park junior Dmitry Derbedyenyev (39-7), dropped a pair of decisions in the 3A 152 bracket.
Odiotti, who will continue his career at Northwestern next season, sees nothing but good things ahead for Loyola.
“It’s only up from here,” he said. “It’s the best coaching staff in the state.”
Collum’s aim is high for a program that has been overshadowed in the Catholic League by programs such as Mount Carmel, Marmion and Montini over the years.
“We’ve just got to keep improving,” Collum said. “We have to continue to create interest in wrestling and get kids involved in wrestling. … It’s a really hard sport but it’s a great sport. …
“We’re not quite there yet but we’re coming. It’s taken longer than I’d like but we’ll be there.”