Wilmette, Sports

Flying High: Calcutt becomes Loyola Academy’s third champ in two years with overtime win

Quinn Herbert is fifth finalist in Ramblers history; HP senior just misses state medal

Kai Calcutt continues to have a flair for the dramatic.

For the second straight year, the Loyola Academy sophomore wrestler went into overtime in an IHSA Class 3A title bout, but this year, Calcutt came out on top, beating Marmion’s Joseph Favia 3-1 on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the University of Illinois’ State Farm Center in Champaign. He won his first state championship and the wrestling program’s third — second on the boys side.

Calcutt was one of two finalists for the Ramblers as senior Quinn Herbert fell 13-5 to Prospect’s Jaxon Penovich in the 3A 190-pound title match.

Calcutt (31-4) won a year after falling 3-2 to Yorkville’s Ben Alvarez in the 3A 220 final. He was happy with the result this time, if not the path to it.

Kai Calcutt sizes up Marmion Academy’s Joseph Favia in the 215-pound championship match on Saturday, Feb. 17.

“I didn’t like the way I wrestled,” Calcutt said. “Wasn’t expecting that, but it is what it is. I get better every day, and hopefully next year it’s not like that.”

Calcutt’s title is the latest sign of upward progress for the Ramblers, who had just one placer and no finalists in program history before 2022. Massey Odeotti took second in 3A at 120 that year and won the same weight class last season. Star girls wrestler Harlee Hiller placed second in 2022 and won a championship last season. She will attempt to defend her title this coming weekend.

Now Calcutt also is a two-time finalist and a champ, with two more seasons left in his high-school career.

“It feels like a dream come true, to be honest,” he said. “I mean, I really wanted it last year and it feels amazing, nothing like anything before.”

Calcutt appreciates having someone like Herbert to practice with every day.

“It’s a luxury,” Calcutt said. “Awesome partner. Having fun in the room makes me want to wrestle.”

Loyola Academy senior Quinn Herbert tussles with Prospect’s Jaxon Penovich on his way to a runnerup finish in the 190-pound weight class.

Herbert (32-9) feels the same way.

“He’s so good,” Herbert said of Calcutt. “We push each other every day and I think we’re a big part of each other’s success. Being able to just go at it day in, day out, make each other better, it’s huge.”

Herbert had a feeling he could be in the mix for a championship this season, and while it didn’t end in a state championship, he was proud of his season.

“I knew coming into the season I had a pretty good shot to win it,” he said. “I thought, work hard enough and I could get the opportunity to, and I gave myself the opportunity. I came up short, but all in all a successful season.”

Loyola coach Matt Collum, who has overseen Loyola’s rise, appreciates the recent successes but isn’t satisfied.

“We’re going up,” he said. “But we still need to get better. So it’s a work in progress. It’s a long work in progress.”

More locals compete with state’s best

Highland Park’s Dmitry Derbedyenyev is declared the victor following a match in the wrestlebacks on Friday, Feb. 16.

Highland Park senior Dmitry Derbedyenev (34-5) finished in the top eight in the 3A 165-pound bracket, going 2-2 and falling one win shy of advancing to the medal round. In his final match, he lost 3-2 on a tiebreaker.

Two more local wrestlers were eliminated in the consolation second round: Loyola teammates Gavin Pardilla (27-13) at 120 and Joey Herbert (21-13) at 285.

Also, Loyola’s James Hemmila (21-12 at 106) and New Trier’s Tagg Miller (33-9 at 150) also competed at the state finals.

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Mike Clark

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