Odiotti gives Loyola Academy its first state wrestling champion
From start to finish, Loyola wrestler Massey Odiotti was No. 1.
The Ramblers senior became the school's first wrestler to win a state title when he earned the Illinois High School Athletic Assocation boys Class 3A 120-pound title Feb. 18 in Champaign.
Odiotti (40-6), ranked No. 1 in his class by Illinois Matmen, defeated Lockport's Justin Wardlow due to a medical forfeit after Wardlow (41-13) got injured in his semifinal match.
Loyola freshman Kai Calcutt (40-9) finished as runner-up at 220 pounds. He pinned each of his first three opponents before losing 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker to Yorkville's Ben Alvarez in the championship match.
As champions do, Odiotti wanted to prove it on the mat against Wardlow -- "how I've always visualized it," Odiotti said.
Loyola coach Matt Collum and his staff assured Odiotti he deserved the title no matter what.
"They were just telling me I earned it, and I worked through the whole season. They were telling me, match or no match, I would have won that," Odiotti said.
Nothing Odiotti faced against a battery of 40-match winners leading up to the final match indicated otherwise for the defending Class 3A runner-up at 120, Loyola's first wrestler to reach the finals. Odiotti also qualified for the state meet as a sophomore.
He opened last weekend's meet at State Farm Center by pinning Morton senior Anthony Lopez 1 minute, 20 seconds into the second round.
In the quarterfinal round Odiotti pinned Andrew senior Trevor Silzer 57 seconds into the third round.
In the semifinals Odiotti earned a 12-2 decision over St. Charles East's A.J. Marino, the eventual third-place finisher. Marino's points came on escapes.
"He never took me down. It was pretty dominant throughout the match," Odiotti said.
"It's been a goal of mine for a really long time," he said of the title.
Even Odiotti's defeats were quality losses. One came against Mt. Carmel's Seth Mendoza, the 3A champion at 113 pounds. Another came against Marmion's Jameson Garcia, runner-up at 126. A third was against Aurora Christian's Josh Vazquez, the Class 2A runner-up at 120.
Two other losses came at the long-standing Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) Ironman meet, and another at the first-year National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dual Classic in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The Northbrook resident competed with the Arlington Cardinals as a student at Wood Oaks Middle School. Odiotti's father, Michael, also wrestled at Loyola.
Returning now to the Izzy Style Wrestling club out of Addison, Odiotti will train for this July's 2023 USA Wrestling Junior Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
Odiotti, who has a partial scholarship to compete at Northwestern University, took second at 120 pounds in Fargo last summer.
Giving Loyola its first state champion among a program-record 7 state qualifiers, boys and girls, with the likes of Calcutt and Harlee Hiller still underclass athletes, Odiotti likes what he sees in Ramblers wrestling.
"Loyola's just going to keep getting better, constantly on the rise," he said. "When I got here as a freshman we didn't have much of a team, but we had good coaching, and we still do."