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Rambler Wrestling Club (2015-16 Flier)

The RWC Coaching staff is very excited  as we have a lot of great things planned for the upcoming season!  I’m sure most people have heard that I have stepped down as head coach of the Loyola Academy high school program and I will be coaching the Rambler Wrestling Club (kid’s club program) and focusing my time and energy on this. I am very excited that coaches Danny Khouri and Mario Correa will be returning.  I am also pleased to announce the addition of Michael Williams to the Rambler Wrestling Coaching staff.  Michael has coached at Evanston High School for the past 8 seasons as well as being one of the pioneers that helped start and grow their club. Michael is a pillar in the wrestling community and we will benefit from his presence. We look forward to the club having its best year yet and reaching its full potential. We will still be working with the Northwestern coaching staff to have our weekly clinics 1 day per week.  The location will split between Northwestern and Loyola for these clinics and be held on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:00. It will be open for all area clubs to participate in, so we can get top level training as the athletes to see other partners and competition. Our regular practice times will be Wednesday and Thursdays from 6:00-7:30.  We intentionally change the practice days so we can have two days in a row with the athletes so it will ultimately help with building muscle memory and learning the technique.  We will also be ordering new gear and wrestling singlets for the team. Please see the links below for the registration forms and Northwestern Clinic schedule. Please forward this information to people you might think will be interested in joining our great club.

2016-IKWF application-competitor-card

Northwestern Wrestling Clinics (2015-16)

The first Northwestern Clinic will start October 27th, 2015.  We will have Open room on October 28th and 29th at Loyola and the official practices will start the following week. We look forward to coaching your athletes and helping them reach their full potential in the sport of wrestling. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Christopher Stephens


Loyola Academy announces new Head Wrestling Coach, Jason Welch!

It is a great pleasure to announce that the New Head Wrestling Coach of the Loyola Academy Wrestling Program will be, Jason Welch.  Anyone who truly calls themselves a fan of the sport of wrestling knows who Jason Welch is. 3-time All-American, NCAA Finalist and the face of the Northwestern Wildcats for the past several years. Yes, that Jason Welch is the New Head Wrestling coach of the Loyola Ramblers wrestling program. In high-school, Jason was a 3-time state champion finishing with a career record of 194-7, with a 119 consecutive win streak, and was the Top Recruit in the entire country coming out of high school. Jason has been helping coach summer camps and clinics at Loyola for the past few years and has grown a passion for working with the high school wrestlers. He is passionate about the sport of wrestling (as you could imagine) and excited to share his techniques and strategies and lead the program in greatness. The Loyola wrestling community is very excited for Jason Welch to take over as the new head wrestling coach!Jason WelchJason Welch 2

As many people have already heard, I recently stepped down from my position as head coach of the program. Although it was my dream job, I needed to reassess my priorities and put my family and career first above coaching.  I do not plan on going too far from the sport or the Loyola wrestling program.  I will be a volunteer assistant coach for Jason as he leads the young men to success in the future, and I also plan on running the Rambler Wrestling Club (kid’s wrestling club) so that kids in the area can be exposed to great coaching at the youth level and take advantage of our wonderful facilities.  I look forward to helping the program grow from the youth club and into the high school level for years to come. Below is a picture of a pencil drawing that the team had made and presented to me at the last banquet. It features my oldest daughter who has been at almost every Loyola wrestling meet since she was born and my longtime friend, alumnus and head assistant coach, Jerry Hagene ’96.  I would have to say that this is one of by greatest prize possessions, most thoughtful gifts and hangs in my office today.  It has been a pleasure to be the head coach of this program, help it grow to what it is today and I look forward to helping it continue to grow to be the best program on the North Shore and in the Chicago Catholic League conference. Thanks again to everyone for all the great memories and too many more in the near future. GO RAMBLERS!

Coach Chris Stephens - Rambler Wrestling - Pencil Drawing

Rambler Wrestling logo (maroon & white)

2014-15 Rambler Wrestling Schedule Poster

2014-15 Loyola Wrestling Team Poster. Featured in the center are seniors and team captains, Joe Scheidt - 195 (left) and Ryan Wosick (right).

2014-15 Loyola Wrestling Team Poster. Featured in the center are seniors and team captains, Joe Scheidt – 195 (left) and Ryan Wosick (right). 

Rambler Wrestling Club: 2nd Annual Pig Roast


Please join us kick off the wrestling season at our 2nd Annual Pig Roast. Come out and bring the family for all you can eat and drink Pig Roast!  There will be a 50/50 raffle, NFL Games on TV, music, games and more.  You can meet members of the current squad, reminisce with old teammates and meet some of the new additions to our program. Thanks in advance for coming out to support the Loyola Wrestling Team and Rambler Wrestling Club!

Paladar Restaurant is located at: 2252 N Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60647

Contact Chris Stephens at:  847-321-0477, or @ramblerwrestlingclub

PIG ROAST (2014)


3rd Annual Rambler Wrestling Golf Outing

3rd Annual Rambler Wrestling Golf Outing

The plans for the 3rd Annual Loyola Academy Wrestling Golf Outing are set.
All proceeds from this event will go directly to the FRIENDS OF RAMBLER WRESTLING which is a not-for-profit organization that has been started and will help the members of the Loyola Wrestling Team, Youth Wrestling Club and to further the sport of wrestling in the North Shore and Chicago’s northwest side.

The Loyola Wrestling Team has made some great strides and we plan on becoming the TOP wrestling program in the North Shore and North Side of Chicago (High school & kids program) within the next few years. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! The Rambler Wrestling Club had 4 IKWF Sectional Qualifier this season. The Varsity Team had 3 All-Conference members, 2 IHSA Regional Finalists, 1 Regional Champ, 4 IHSA Sectional Qualifiers, and 1 IHSA STATE Qualifier. The Fr/So Team took a close 4th Place in the prestigious Chicago Catholic League Conference Tournament. The Rambler Wrestling Club had over 40 participants in its club this past season and we anticipate the same level next season. We are heading in the right direction and we are excited to take this program to the Next Level!

Make plans now to join us on July 25th, 2014 at the Wilmette Golf Club (in Wilmette off Lake just West of Loyola) for a fun day of golf, games, raffles, food, cocktails and camaraderie. Get your foursomes together now and register to join us at this event as soon as possible.
Tee times will start at around 12:45pm. It will be a shotgun start, so you must arrive by 12:15. Dinner will be served at the conclusion of golf (around 5:30 if you are planning on coming just for the dinner).

The Wilmette Golf Club located at: 1200 Wilmette Ave. Wilmette, IL 60091

The cost for this great event and fundraiser will be $150 dollars per person, which will include 18 holes of Golf, a cart, T-Shirt and dinner will be served after the golf is done in the club house. During the dinner portion of the evening, prizes will be raffled. If you do not want to sign up as a foursome but would like to play with a specific group of people, please feel free to indicate that when registering and we would be happy to accommodate and pair you up with your group.

We are also seeking Hole Sponsors, gifts and donations for the event. We will be having a raffle with donated items, gift cards, etc… So, anything you are willing to contribute will be greatly appreciated. We would love your company to be a sponsor of this great event. The cost for the Hole Sponsorship will be $200. Sponsorship includes: Signage at the designated hole. Company Logo and information featured prominently on event sponsored program. Logo and company information added to the Rambler Wrestling Website in the Sponsor page and a link to your business website. Families also interested in sponsoring a hole are welcome to do so as well! These Hole Sponsorships have filled up fast the last 2 years, so if you are interested or would like to sponsor a hole as a family, please register early. Hole Sponsors must register by: July 9th, 2014

Prizes will be given for the longest drive, closest to the pin. Feel free to forward this to anyone who can help us in this fantastic philanthropic event!

If you have any questions, or need additional information, please contact me via e-mail:

Registration Due: July 11th, 2014

Please make all checks payable to: FRIENDS OF RAMBLER WRESTLING

You can mail registration form and checks to: Christopher Stephens
4698 N Kasson Ave. Chicago, IL 60630

Thanks in advance for participating in the 3rd Annual Loyola Academy Wrestling Golf Outing & please pass this along to anyone that may be interested!

Loyola’s Ryan Wosick wants more after taste of state

Loyola's Ryan Wosick wants more after taste of state

Great article about Loyola’s Ryan Wosick about his experience at the state tournament and his goals for the upcoming season! He has already started training for next season and began his quest to become a State Champion next season. Way to make Loyola proud, Ryan and keep up the hard work this off-season.

What does being an IHSA Sectional Qualifier mean to you?

This is the question that I asked Loyola’s 4 wrestlers that qualified for the IHSA Sectional Tournament (Feb. 14 – Feb. 15 @ Barrington HS).  Let’s hear what they had to say….



Alex Lopez (Sr) – 126, Ryan Wosick (Jr) – 182, Peter McPike (Sr) – 195, Kevin Dolick (Sr) – 160

ALEX LOPEZ:     As a Senior Captain, the greatest achievement I have to date in wrestling was to win my third place match at regionals to advance to the sectional tournament. Right now, Kevin, Peter, Ryan and I are reaping the benefits of our years of hard work. However we’re not done yet. For me, sectionals is an opportunity to pursue further success on the mat, and create some memorable moments along the way.

RYAN WOSICK:   Being a sectional qualifier to me means I am one step closer to being a state qualifier. The bigger goal at hand is qualifying for state and sectionals is a stepping stone to achieving that goal.

PETER McPIKE:   Become a sectional qualifier means a lot. It is a recognition of and reward for all the work I have put into wrestling. But mostly, I see it as a recognition of the thing other has given me or done for me. My coaches, teammates, and especially parents have done so much for me over the years, without which I could never have gotten to where I am today. Any awards or accomplishments I receive are really due to the opportunities they have given me.  

KEVIN DOLICK:  Qualifying for sectionals has been a huge personal milestone. I have never been especially good at wrestling until this year. Last year I went 2-12 on varsity, so going into this season I was already feeling discouraged. Coach Stephens has always talked about wrestling being a sport involving delayed gratification, but I wasn’t sure if that gratification was coming or not. This season, everything just seemed to click though. I finally solidified the basics of wrestling, something that unfortunately took me all of four years to learn, and found my niche of leg riding. Going from a 2-12 unseeded regional wrestler to a 20-10 sectional qualifier has shown me the potential that I have and that everyone possesses. Wrestling is the single most revealing sport of an athlete; no other sport shows truer integrity and character in an individual. I have seen my team and myself grow these last four years because of the way we push each other in the room. Pushing each other to be the best in a live match or the fastest in a sprint has paid off though and is sending four of us down to Barrington this weekend.  

Good Luck at the IHSA Sectional Tournament this weekend!  GO RAMBLERS!

Q&A with Pat Dougherty


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of Loyola’s wrestling greats, Pat Dougherty ’10, for a candid interview about his past as a wrestler, football player, and his experiences at Loyola as well as his college football career. This interview is the 2nd in a series of interviews to come. With the start of the IHSA State Series beginning and the Regional Tournament this Saturday, I thought it would be great to sit down and talk some wrestling with the past Regional Champ, 2x Sectional Qualifier, State Qualifier. Pat is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers in Loyola History with his 41 wins in one season, being the most of any Loyola Wrestle ever. He also held the career wins record and several other records that have recently just been broken, but many remaining intact. Enjoy the read and make sure to keep your eyes out for more interviews in the next few weeks as we enter the IHSA State tournament series.

STEPHENS:  Thanks for taking the time to meet with me and discuss your past and your experiences at Loyola as a wrestler and football player.

DOUGHERTY:  Certainly. I have made a lot of good memories as well as great friends during my time at Loyola.

STEPHENS:  This is my second interview in the series of Q&A interviews that I am conducting. This is obviously one that is very special for me as I had the opportunity to coach you throughout your high school career. Now that you are done with your wrestling career and you look back upon all the time you spent in the Loyola wrestling room, what are some of the greatest memories of wrestling for Loyola?

DOUGHERTY:  Wrestling for Loyola was an unreal experience I was able to meet and work with a lot of different coaches and saw a lot of wrestlers come and go. I think each year I had some great memories that stood out to me. My freshman year was interesting transitioning from the grammar school club into the high school level. It really shows that the wrestlers who were involved in kids clubs have a huge advantage with the fundamentals because the movements that are new to people can take at least a whole season to get used to. My sophomore year was cool because I began experimenting with off-season wrestling including freestyle and Greco roman and also competing at state level tournaments. My junior year was very pivotal in my career adding the expertise and experience of Coaches Vince Colletti and Tim Loeffel to the Rambler coaching staff. Very knowledgeable guys who enjoyed taking turn kicking my butt. Then my senior year was special because I had reached some goals I had not intended on reaching while trying to become one of the best wrestlers in the state.

STEPHENS:  When was it that you started wresting?

DOUGHERTYI began wrestling at age 8 at OPRF and then the club moved to Fenwick after a few years.

STEPHENS:  Is it true that Nick & Chris Dardanes were the guys who got you involved in wrestling? They are both stars for the University of Minnesota and potential All-American, possibly National Champions this year.  Do you still keep in touch with them and follow their collegiate wrestling career?

DOUGHERTY:  Yes. I attended the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament last year at U of I and this year I was at their dual meet at Northwestern. At Northwestern, I ran into a lot of my kids club coaches including Mr. Barnhisel (father of Bobby Barnhisel – Fenwick state champion 152lbs 2009) and a lot of other mentors and it was cool to see them and catch up. I have known the Dardanes twins since I was 2 years old. For those who don’t know, I have a twin sister and our parents became friends at a twin club. We also played football together throughout grade school. If they were not such instant studs at sports at age 6 I don’t think I would have been the same athlete I am today. We were in a different category than the other kids in grammar school that just played basketball. We had learned things like accountability and mental toughness at a young age. I am very proud of those two warriors.

STEPHENS:  After you had graduated from Loyola, you have become somewhat of an icon.  After shattering almost every wrestling record in all categories, younger wrestlers strived to break those records. Some have come close and some have succeeded.  Nonetheless, you had set an example for these younger guys on the team and you set a bar for them to aim for. Who were some of the guys that were role models for you that you looked up to earlier in your career?

DOUGHERTY:  Easy. Anthony Harvey. His picture was on the wall. Freshman year I asked coach Picchietti, “How do I could get my picture on the wall”? He said you have to be a state qualifier. That was a standard that had been reached before so I wanted to qualify for state my junior year like he did. I had never seen him wrestle, nor had I ever met him, but he must have been important so I wanted to be the next one to be on the wall. In a way I hope that kids who may have never met me and want to be great high school wrestlers will want to do the same thing and do whatever it takes to leave a mark and not just be a passerby.

STEPHENS:  What do you view as being your greatest accomplishment as a wrestler in high school at Loyola?

DOUGHERTYI think my greatest accomplishment was my varsity career wins. I believe I was 92-32 and that was lettering on varsity 3 years. I had 8 varsity matches my freshman year going 4-4.  I came along way under some great direction.

STEPHENS:  You received a lot of attention from colleges to play football as well as wrestle. Ultimately, you chose to play football for Illinois State University. What made you chose football over wrestling?  Do you ever think about returning to the mats?

DOUGHERTY:  Well the schools that had shown interest in me for both sports were small D-2 and D3 colleges, with a few FCS D-1aa for football. After my parents had worked their tails off to send TWO kids through Loyola at the same time and that shaped me into who I am and Loyola had allowed me tremendous opportunity. I wanted to be able to pursue a sport that I had a higher chance of earning some money off of my college tuition. That is why I chose one of the top FCS programs in the Midwest in Illinois State. They had offered me a small amount of money off my tuition when I signed and just recently I had earned a partial scholarship.  I miss wrestling all the time but I am still around it whether it’s coaching my younger brother, helping some young Ramblers at Loyola or supporting my friends at the collegiate level.

STEPHENS:  In HS, you were a 2x Most Valuable Wrestler in wrestling and were the CCL Blue Division Defensive Player of the Year.  How was it that you were able to compete in these two sports and such a high level?

DOUGHERTY:  I think the two sports go well together and a lot of the same mentality transfer over from football and wrestling. I just really enjoyed both of them and wanted to be the best I could be. Both sports helped each other even if both of my coaches were fighting over my off-season attention I was still able to excel in both. The weightlifting and training I did in football helped me be a strong and fast upper weight wrestler. The grappling technique and being able to use my hands effectively from wrestling made me a nightmare in pass rushing.  Of course mental toughness is everything when it comes to these sports, the classroom and my social life. 

STEPHENS:  What did you do in the off-season to prepare for both sports?  Did you find that it was difficult to transition from the football field to the wrestling mats after going so far in the playoffs for football and missing the beginning of the wrestling season?

DOUGHERTY:  In the off-season I tried to accommodate both sports. I was constantly busy and I really liked it. I was never bored. Between lifting and conditioning for football and wrestling free style and Greco a few times a week throughout the spring and summer I knew that I was going to have a lot of fun my senior year. The transition is always tough because football is a sprint and wrestling is a marathon. I always had to do some extra work in getting back into wrestling form and sometimes we wouldn’t have had any days of practice and compete in 10 matches in two days. Many of us were dual sport athletes so we were used to it and knew that we had a grind ahead of us.

STEPHENS:  You had the opportunity of having a great wrestling partner in your co-captain and teammate, Tom Kelly.  Do you feel that played a role in your success? Do you feel that you played a role in his success? Do you and Tom still keep in touch with each other?

DOUGHERTY:  Tom Kelly and I were great wrestling partners. We never brother-in-lawed each other, we just always expected the best efforts from one another. We took tremendous pride in being leaders in the room and being elected captains by our peers. It helped wrestling him because he was a much bigger guy and I had to rely on good technique and proper setups to take him down. Anything less than my best was not going to work on Tom.  Same went for Tom. He would work on eliminating bad habits of being a “muscler” in order to wrestle at the top of his game. Most of the time his game plan was to muscle and it worked 80 percent of the time but he won some big matches his senior year using some very finesse technique. And Yes me and Tom are still good buddies I will see him a few times a year and sometimes we work out together when were both home on break.

STEPHENS:   I think it’s safe to say that you will most likely be inducted into Loyola’s Hall of Fame for Wrestling and Football as well. How does it make you feel knowing that your name will be etched into Loyola Athletics for eternity?

DOUGHERTY:  It is an honor and I hope that I am in the hall of fame at Loyola someday. It is a great feeling knowing that I made the most of my time in those halls and the welcome I receive when I come and visit it is just a great place to be a part of.

STEPHENS:  There are wrestling programs all across the state losing participants to other sports, i.e. football, lacrosse, hockey, baseball… Wrestling is a no-cut sport while these other sports have cuts or the possibility of not getting any playing time if the athlete doesn’t participate in off-season training. What are your thoughts? Do you feel that there are certain sports that compliment each other? You were someone who had the pressure of participating in Football and Wrestling at Loyola? Was there any time-share issue? Do you feel that you would have done better if you chose 1 sport?

DOUGHERTY:  It’s like I stated earlier I think that football and wrestling go together and I truly believe that without the help of both sports I would have just been an average wrestler or an average football player. I also think in high school you should play the sports that you want to play because it’s about what you learn from your experiences and having fun. That’s why you lift all those weights in the off-season and go to all those off-season wrestling tournaments, because the games and the competitions are fun. After being a college athlete, you realize that the number of people that play sports beyond high school is really small. So in my opinion, if you want to play a sport in high school, make sure you are getting something out of it because it might be the last team you are a part of.

STEPHENS:  What is most significant about the culture of wrestling in your opinion?  Is this promoted at LA?

DOUGHERTY:  The culture of wrestling is toughness. Not everyone wants to do it and they shouldn’t. It’s hard. It’s grueling on your body. You sweat… A lot. But, after all the sweat and hard work, it is very rewarding. I think that if people realized how rewarding it is, they would not have an issue with the training. The juice is worth the squeeze, but unfortunately it is sometimes hard to convince guys who have not been through anything like that before. As a coach, you taught me the concept of “delayed gratification”. At first, I kind of thought you were a little crazy, but then after placing in the Sophomore State tournament and I experienced that gratification (or a little taste of that juice), it all made sense. The feeling of getting your hand raised after a big match and accomplishing a goal like that is unlike any feeling. It’s better than winning a football game, because you are on the wrestling all by yourself. You put the work in yourself and you get all the credit and praise.  You get your hand raised which is something so simple, but yet such a tremendous feeling.

STEPHENS:  Would you like to see anything change with the wrestling culture here at Loyola?

DOUGHERTY:  At Loyola, I think that the culture has changed quite a bit over my time and the culture is understood among the students and even the faculty. I know people understand when there leaving the building to go home at 3:15 and see the wrestling team running up and down the stairs, they know those guys are nuts to put themselves through that. But they also know and respect the dedication that goes along with it. I would like to see more guys just come out for the team and try it.  We have a lot of great athletes in the school that could be great wrestlers. I think more of them should come out for wrestling and just see what happens. Maybe it will help them become more mentally tough, or more focused, or disciplined, or control their aggression, or understand time management or just become a better person and student. If you are the type of person who enjoys a competitive environment and wants to compete and succeed, then you should try the sport of wrestling. If you want to be a bad dude on the football field, why not put your money where your mouth is a get on the mat? Like I said before, it is not a sport that is for everyone, but it does help build character and helps boys become men.

STEPHENS:  Would you ever consider coming back to Loyola to coach or assist in any capacity?  If so, which sport would you rather coach, football or wrestling?

DOUGHERTY:  I think I would love to coach wherever I would be needed. My goal is to work in athletics someday, possibly an athletic director of a university or high school. So who knows, maybe I can help coach a sport while doing something like that. Maybe one of those schools is Loyola.

STEPHENS:  How would you say high school wrestling has evolved since you participated?

DOUGHERTY:  The new weight classes I think were a smart change. Also, there is a lot of technique that I am seeing little kids do when I watch elite IKWF tournaments that I don’t even know. I am pleased when I see that because I know that there is still a lot of involvement in the sport and that it is not going to change.

STEPHENS:  I think the biggest thing to change since you wrestled is the new weight class changes. You started the season at 189 pounds and then cut down to 171 pounds. That is a very large gap between those weight classes. Now, they have added a 182 pound weight class and broke up that huge gap (170, 182, 195).  What weight class would you have gone if the new weight classes had been around during your senior season?  I feel like you would have been a perfect fit at 182 and would have been a State Champion for sure, but then another side of me thinks that you would have been trying to cut down to 170.

DOUGHERTY:  I think 182 would have been a great weight class for me because that’s what I naturally weighed after football. I was 182ish at the Maine East invite and I felt very strong, but the weight class was 189 and I was underweight. I even recall eating nachos between dual meets that day. That would have been great if they had that my senior year.

STEPHENS:  Would you like to see any changes made to the Loyola wrestling program?

DOUGHERTY:  I think the program is on the rise. The kids enter the program as boys, and if they stick it out for four years, they leave Loyola as fine young men who are prepared for life. Most wrestlers in general DO NOT go on to wrestle beyond high school, but the things that they learn in that room will carry with them the rest of their lives. The Loyola wrestling program and staff has the capabilities of producing D1 wrestlers if the wrestlers choose to put in the work, but it is producing good men that are tougher then when they came in as freshman and are ready and prepared for the real world.  For years, we have referred to this as being, BOSS TRAINED.  For those of you reading this who has wrestled under Coach Stephens, you know exactly what I am talking about.

STEPHENS:  What are some goals (long term and short term) you would like to see accomplished by LA wrestling?

DOUGHERTY:  I would like to see more success in the Chicago Catholic League conference Championships and at the state level. Our conference is the best in the State when it comes to Football and Wrestling. Loyola is seeing great successes on the football field, but that is not necessarily transferring to the wrestling mat. We are seeing Champions and all-conference wrestlers now on an annual basis, but I would really like to see us progress and compete as a team with the other Powerhouse teams in our conference. I think that Loyola has incredible athletes walking the halls of the school, but they just need to challenge themselves to come out for wrestling and stick with it for 4 years. Then we will see success as a team.  I would also like to see perennial state qualifiers and place-winners. The coaching staff is in place and the Loyola facilities are some of the best in the state. Now we just need to have some kids step up to the challenge.

STEPHENS:  How would you like to see Loyola wrestling program expand its horizons?

DOUGHERTY:  I agree with Coach Picchietti on getting JV and B team football guys. A little wrestling couldn’t hurt their chances of success on the football field. It definitely didn’t hurt Tom Kelly or myself. Both Tom and I were actually not starters on the football team freshman year. I believe it was wrestling and hard work that propelled us to be great in both Football and Wrestling.

STEPHENS:  How active are you in following the sport at a high school level (or any level) since participating in it?

DOUGHERTY:  I don’t follow much high school these days I am starting to not recognize names of kids anymore. Now I just watch college every now and then. I think I’ll follow it more once my brother enters high school.

STEPHENS:  Yes, you have a younger brother (Mikey) who is wrestling in the kid’s wrestling club. Who is going to be coaching him when he comes to Loyola; you or me?

DOUGHERTYI am not sure who is going to be coaching him or even where he is going to high school. Have you seen the price of tuition for Loyola these days?!  Obviously, own hopes are for him to attend Loyola, and in that case, we can hopefully coach him together.

STEPHENS:  Great answer, Pat!  There is no doubt that you have one of the greatest and most decorated resume in Loyola Academy history. You were a 2x All-Conference in some of the hardest weight classes the conference has ever seen, 2x Regional Finalist, and Regional Champion. You were a finalist or Champion in almost every tournament you wrestled in throughout your Junior & Senior campaigns. You had the most varsity wins in Loyola history until that was broken just 2 years ago. You are arguably one of the best if not the greatest Rambler Wrestler of all time. If you were to pick the top 5 wrestlers in Loyola history, who would they be?


1.  Michael Paloian – Loyola’s only state place-winner.

He got what everyone below on this list was striving for, and for that we are proud as heck but green with envy.

2.  Pat Dougherty – sometimes he tech-pinned kids.

3.  Matt Picchietti – he was a man among boys in high school. I also once saw him bulldog a kid into a locker. But in all seriousness he was a two sport stud and pretty bright for a meathead.

4 & 5.  Chris Schultz and Tom Kelly tie for the 4th spot. Both were CCL champions and a match away from placing downstate. These guys were absolute beasts.

STEPHENS:  Pat, I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me for this interview. It was a pleasure to coach you over the years and I am extremely happy that we have remained friends after you graduated. The Loyola Wrestling community appreciates all the great memories that you have given us over the years. I would like to wish you luck and continued success as you finish up your collegiate football career. Thanks again for taking your time to chat with this old man!

DOUGHERTY:  Anytime Chris. You have been a great coach and friend to me. The Rambler Wrestling program is headed in the right direction and has a great future ahead with you as the Head Coach. I wish you and the Ramblers best of luck this season. GO RAMBLERS!

Q&A with Loyola Wrestling Great, Matt Picchietti





I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of Loyola’s wrestling greats, Matt Picchietti ’97, for a candid interview about his past as a wrestler, coach and his experiences at Loyola and in college. This interview is the first in a series of interviews to come. With the Chicago Catholic League Tournament in our rear view mirror, I thought it would be great to sit down and talk some wrestling with the 2x CCL Champ and 3x finalist. Matt was also a 3x state qualifier and is arguably the best wrestler in Loyola History. Enjoy the read and make sure to keep your eyes out for more interviews in the next few weeks leading up and through the State tournament.


STEPHENS:  Thanks for taking the time to meet with me and discuss your past and your experiences at Loyola as a wrestler and a coach.

PICCHIETTI:  Absolutely, Chris. Loyola wrestling has always been a huge part of my life.

STEPHENS:  You had the opportunity to wrestle for Loyola Academy as well as come back and be the head coach of the program for several years. Now you help coach the kids youth wrestling club at The Academy. Tell us a little about what Loyola Wrestling means to you & where you envision it going?

PICCHIETTI:  Loyola Academy is a great place. People like Br. Dave Henderson, John Hoerster, and Rick Miller were essential figures in my life at that time. That means a lot to me. When I started wrestling, the rest of my life started to make sense. School became easier. I got more confidence. I understood hard work and humility and learned how to learn from losing. All of that matters in real life. Teaching that to kids who might serve as the foundation for future Rambler wrestling teams, well, that matters to me. The team looks good. There have been recent state qualifiers and LA’s first place winner, so I hope things keep improving.

STEPHENS:  When was it that you started wresting?

PICCHIETTI:  I was 10. We just moved to Nebraska and one of the guys working for my dad was a kid’s club coach and that was that. I was hooked from day one.

STEPHENS:  What was your greatest memory wrestling for Loyola?

PICCHIETTI:  Man, that’s tough. The strongest memories are the losses. One that I love is from my sophomore year at the Dick Mudge Invitational at Prospect. I made it to the finals against a senior 189 pounder from Prospect who had bumped up a weight class thinking he would win it. I smashed him 8-2. As I was getting my medal, his coach asked where I was wrestling next year. I told him I was sophomore. His guy was going to wrestling at Indiana. I think that is when I knew I could do pretty well.  

STEPHENS:  What was your greatest accomplishment as a wrestler (high school & college)?

PICCHIETTI:  Earning Academic All American honors at St. Olaf. That was a tough school and it mattered to me that I did more than just graduate.

STEPHENS:  Entering Loyola as a freshman which was your senior year, you were always someone that I looked up to. Who were some of the guys that were role models for you that you looked up to earlier in your career?

PICCHIETTI:  Creighton Prep, the team I wrestled for as a freshman, sent ten guys to state that year. I had plenty of people to look up to. Ben Perkins and Ben Petersen were, I think, both state champs, Perkins for sure. He won three times. Petersen was a senior when I was a freshman and he was my wrestling partner most days. Perkins was 152 pounder who could destroy anyone in the room. I have never seen anyone so smooth on his feet.

STEPHENS:  You have been inducted in to Loyola’s athletic hall of fame for wrestling and were one heck of a football player. You had first decided to attend the University of Iowa to play football. After your freshman year, you transferred to St Olaf in Minnesota to wrestle. Why did you originally chose football?  What made you ultimately chose wrestling?

PICCHIETTI:  If I could do it all over, I would have sent football film to the bottom 25 division I football programs. As a junior, I started getting calls from Big Ten schools about football so that is what I thought I was. My goal was not to pay for school and I thought football was the way to go. There are not a whole lot of wrestling scholarships out there. When I got to Iowa, I immediately saw that I was out of my league. These guys were just as fast and strong as me and whole lot bigger. It was a humbling experience. I knew the wrestling coach at Olaf a little and I went for a visit. I loved the school and decided to transfer. It was a good decision.

STEPHENS:  In HS, you were a 3 sport varsity athlete (Football, Wrestling, Track & Field), state qualifier in wrestling and track and the Prep Bowl MVP in football. It is very rare that you see a 3-sport varsity athlete at all in today’s high schools. Why do you think that is? Do you think it is possible in today’s era for that to happen?

PICCHIETTI:  Sports are supposed to be fun. I had fun with all of those teams and I learned something different from all of those coaches. The greatest benefit of not specializing was learning how to compete in different situations. Football is the ultimate team sport, but two of my best games as an individual came in losses. Wrestling is the ultimate combat sport. One-on-one and no excuses. Discus requires total focus and attention to detail. Body control mattered more than anything. All of those were different kinds of competition, different kinds of pressures and they all, I think, made me better. It’s hard to learn how to compete when you are not competing in anything for one or two seasons. I think parents are pressured, stupidly, to encourage their kids to put all their eggs in one basket. I do not think you will see 3-sport guys for 4 years during high school, but I’d like to see 3-sport athletes during their first two years at least. If there is something they really want to focus on after that, great, but give yourself two years to compete as much as possible.

STEPHENS:  There are wrestling programs all across the state losing participants to other sports, i.e. football, lacrosse, hockey, baseball… Wrestling is a no-cut sport while these other sports have cuts or the possibility of not getting any playing time if the athlete doesn’t participate in off-season training. What are your thoughts? Do you feel that there are certain sports that compliment each other?

PICCHIETTI:  Wrestling and football go together like a wink and a smile. Any success I had in football was due to my wrestling foundation. Wrestling is too hard for a lot of people. Most people quit because it is easy to get embarrassed and there is no place to hide when you get destroyed in front of your friends and family on a wrestling mat. Baseball and lacrosse don’t really have that kind of personal risk, and neither does any team or timed sport. Wrestling puts your whole ego on the line every time you stem on that mat. Most people do not want to do that.

STEPHENS:  What is most significant about the culture of wrestling in your opinion?  Is this promoted at LA?

PICCHIETTI:  You have to be fearless in that, to be a good wrestler, you cannot be afraid to lose. The Academy is a competitive place. Academically, socially, athletically we are all taught that losing is unacceptable. And losing because of lack of effort is totally unacceptable, but there is a lot of learning involved with losing. If you give your best at something, if you perform flawlessly and to the best of all of your abilities, that may not be good enough to win a match, or get into the school you wanted to, or to land the job or promotion you wanted. That’s life and that is a great lesson. That is also the kind of things that parents and teachers tend not to say. Does that answer the question?

STEPHENS:  Absolutely.  Thanks for your honesty!  Would you like to see anything change with the wrestling culture here at Loyola?

PICCHIETTI:  I’d like to see more people who enjoy the battle. There are a few, but it would more fun to see room full of grinning maniacs all trying to out do each other all of the time. I’ve been in rooms like that. When the whole room is in that zone, the improvement to technique and team chemistry is incredible.

STEPHENS:  Would you ever consider coming back to coach in the program?

PICCHIETTI:  My current job involves a lot of travel, so probably not in the near future, but you never say never.

STEPHENS:  How would you say high school wrestling has evolved since you participated?

PICCHIETTI:  Kids have better technique and ate better conditioned, but that is normal evolution. Social media has changed the game. With matches going on-line, wrestlers can pick up advanced techniques from other countries at the click of a button. Remember The Flying Squirrel? That became an internet and ESPN sensation for a while. That has changed recruiting and teaching for the better.

STEPHENS:  Would you like to see any changes made to the wrestling program?

PICCHIETTI:  I think things are on the right track. The coaches are getting the most they can out of the talent they have. Why change that. That is good coaching.

STEPHENS:  What are some goals (long term and short term) you would like to see accomplished by LA wrestling?

PICCHIETTI:  Having three or four guys a year at the state tournament would be a great accomplishment. If that happens, then one or two guys a year would have an opportunity at placing down state. LA has too many great athletes not to have a state place winner every year.

STEPHENS:  How active are you in following the sport at a high school level (or any level) since participating in it?

PICCHIETTI:  With my career change, I’ve been out of the loop. I’ll catch a Big Ten Dual on TV or the NCAA Finals, but that’s about it. I don’t even know the new high school weight classes.

STEPHENS:  How would you like to see Loyola wrestling program expand its horizons?

PICCHIETTI:  More football players, particularly B-team and JV guys on the team. If those guys wrestled, even for two years, a huge majority of them would be starters by the time they were juniors.

STEPHENS:  There is no doubt that you have one of the greatest and most decorated resume in Loyola Academy history. You were a 2x CCL Champ, 3x finalist. 2x state qualifier. You had the most varsity wins in Loyola history until that was broken (not including your freshman year where you wrestled varsity as a freshman in Nebraska) all at the Heavyweight weight class. You are arguably one of the best if not the greatest Rambler Wrestler of all time. If you were to pick the top 5 wrestlers in Loyola history, who would they be?


  • 1.  Michael Paloian gets the top spot for performing the best on the biggest stage and becoming Loyola’s only State place-winner.

2.  Pat Dougherty was in a brutal weight class, but could have placed at state as well.

3.  I guess I would probably put myself at #3

4.  Chris Schultz was one of the only Sectional Champions in Loyola history, was a match away from placing at the state tournament and is a fellow Hall of Famer. Not to mention my golf partner in last year’s golf outing, which was a blast!

5.  Tom Kelly was also 1 match away from placing at the state tournament. He had the best defense of any LA wrestler and was almost impossible to take down.

I may be a little biased with my picks and I do not know the history as well as I should. There were tough guys in the 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s I’m sure and their list would look different. Ideally, the best wrestler LA has ever had is either walking the halls now or he will be soon.

STEPHENS:  Matt, I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me for this interview. It was a pleasure to be a teammate of yours, coach with you and be your friend for over a decade. The Loyola Wrestling community appreciates all that you have done for the wrestling program and the Rambler Wrestling Club. Thanks for your continued support.

 PICCHIETTI:  Thank you for this opportunity and good luck with the rest of the season! GO RAMBLERS!



2013-14 Loyola Wrestling Schedule – Poster

2013-14 Loyola Wrestling Schedule - Poster

We look forward to seeing you this season!