Loyola’s Dancer, Paloian claim regional crowns
BY MICHAEL WOJTYCHIW February 6, 2012
Patrick Dancer and Michael Paloian both know that Loyola isn’t considered a wrestling power in the area.
But that didn’t stop the two Ramblers, as both won regional titles at the Glenbrook South Regional on Saturday.
The two combined to make it four regional champs for the Ramblers in the past two years. Paloian repeated as a regional titlist, this time at 182 pounds after winning his title last year at 171.
Dancer (138) won his first regional title.
The 2011-12 school year has been a great one so far for Paloian, who also was a linebacker on Loyola’s IHSA Class 8A runner-up football team. A year ago, he also became Loyola’s first Catholic League wrestling champion since Tom Kelly in 2010.
“The football season was a great experience,” said Paloian. “It taught us all a lot, and I was just looking to continue that success in wrestling.”
When asked what they thought had been making a difference in Loyola’s program, both Paloian and Dancer said the same thing: Coaches have changed the mentality of Loyola wrestling and gotten athletes to focus more on the sport.
“We started a feeder program recently and that’s getting more kids interested in wrestling at a younger age,” said Dancer, who was also a member of the football team. “We have a lot of talent coming up on the lower levels, so that’s a good sign for the future of Loyola.”
The Rambler Wrestling Program, as it’s called, is in its third year, which is the duration that Chris Stephens has served as Loyola’s head coach. The program offers grade-school kids of all ages and skill levels to learn the sport, and get 30 or more matches under their belt as they work on their skills and techniques.
“The feeder program has been great for Loyola,” Paloian said. “The wrestling program at Loyola can only get better as the feeder program becomes better and continues to prosper.”
Dancer, a junior, won his regional title by defeating Prospect’s Harry Hamilton 6-4 in overtime. Paloian, a senior, improved to 26-5 after winning his title by defeating Prospect’s Dan Fiumetto 9-6.
Santonio Cathery also earned a trip to the Barrington Sectional, claiming third place with a 10-0 major decision over Prospect’s Javier Marquez.
“This year has been a lot of fun,” Paloian said. “But I think it can get better at sectionals.”