Loyola’s new wrestling head coach Matt Collum is familiar with the Catholic League.
Collum wrestled at Providence Catholic as a freshman before transferring to Neuqua Valley, where he won a state title as a senior in 2004. After one season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Collum has returned to the Catholic League, arguably the top wrestling conference in the state.
“I was drawn to Loyola because of the opportunity to compete against the best,” he said. “I also believe there’s a lot of untapped potential there that I can bring out.”
Loyola wrestling alum and former head coach Chris Stephens (Class of 2000) said Collum is the perfect person to lead the Ramblers. Since Stephens stepped down in 2015 after seven seasons, Collum is Loyola’s third head coach. This is Collum’s second stint as a high school head coach. He led Timberland in Wentzville, Missouri, for seven seasons.
“I’m excited about his passion and knowledge of the sport, and he constantly wants to learn more,” Stephens said. “He’s a great competitor and has been on top of the game at several levels. He’s enthusiastic about this opportunity, and the direction he wants to take the program.”
Collum’s first priority is increasing turnout. Junior Josh Kruetz is one of two wrestlers who competed at the Catholic League’s meet with eligibility remaining. Kruetz finished fourth at 220 pounds at the Class 3A Fremd Regional. Collum plans to reach out to other Loyola coaches in an effort to build relationships.
“There are plenty of athletes who play other sports who could benefit from wrestling,” he said.
Collum said his coaching style focuses on the fundamentals but encourages individuality.
“Nobody wrestles like me, so I don’t expect to teach that way,” he said. “Everybody is different, which is why I have an open mind. But everybody has to be tough.”
A wrestler most of his life, Collum enjoyed a standout college career that included a junior college national championship at Iowa Central and a stop at traditional powerhouse Oklahoma State.
“What I love about the sport is how you have to hold yourself accountable,” he said. “You can’t make excuses. A lot of what wrestling teaches you carries over into real-life situations.”