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All-Metro boys wrestler of the year: Odom reaches pinnacle in dominant Edwardsville career

All-Metro boys wrestler of the year: Odom reaches pinnacle in dominant Edwardsville career

From the 2020 All-Metro boys wrestling series

In four dominant years, only one thing slowed Luke Odom down.

The Edwardsville High senior grappler prided himself as an iron man of sorts, racking up win after win without missing a beat. 

When a concussion forced him to drop out of the state tournament as a junior, he returned even stronger to cap his illustrious career in record-setting style. 

"He's got 193 wins out of Edwardsville High School," Edwardsville coach Jon Wagner said. "I don't think in four years he's missed a match (except for his junior year). That's Brett Favre-ish."

With a stacked resume' full of wins, Odom was still missing one thing — a state championship. He completed that goal by winning the Class 3A 160-pound title in February.

"I just felt a weight lifted off my shoulder," Odom said. "I finally got what I was working for. It was just an amazing feeling."

Odom, the Post-Dispatch All-Metro boys wrestler of the year, finished with a program-record 193 career wins — including 51 as a senior — which is tied for the third-most victories in the state, according to the Illinois High School Association record book.

Wagner knew the future University of Illinois wrestler would excel with the Tigers long before he stepped foot in Jon Davis Wrestling Center. 

"He's been pretty dominating since he's been wrestling," Wagner said. "He's always gone to high-level tournaments — been to nationals when he was younger, three-time state champion in middle school. We knew we got a good one when he came in."

Odom won the Illinois Freestyle and Greco-Roman junior 145-pound state championship during the spring before his senior season. When he suited up for the Tigers this winter, he was just as prolific.

A state qualifier all four years, Odom left the State Farm Center in Champaign without a medal just once after his first-round loss last season. Odom suffered a concussion against Sandburg’s Pat Nolan in the final seconds of that match and had to forfeit his next one, marking the first time he'd missed a bout in his career with the Tigers.

"This sport is so unpredictable," Odom said. "The last three or four years, I could have won state titles, but just one thing would go a different way. I could have been at the top of that podium all three years, but it just didn't work out that way."

It was only a speed bump for Odom, who returned with a renewed sense of determination.

"A lot of my focus was just to try and have fun and make the most of my last season of high school wrestling," Odom said. "What I learned from last year is that you're not guaranteed a full year, or for it to end the way you want it to end. I was just trying to enjoy every second of it this year."

Odom enjoyed every moment even as he faced the challenge of moving up to a new weight class at the start of each season.

Remarkably, his results never changed.

As a freshman, Odom wrestled at 106 pounds and finished with a 43-5 record and a third-place finish at state. He was bumped up to 126 pounds as a sophomore and finished third again with a 50-2 record.

During his injury-shortened junior season, Odom wrestled at 138 pounds and was ranked first in the state. He finished with a 46-3 record before making one final jump to 160 as a senior and grabbing the ultimate prize.

"I think that's what makes him really special," Wagner said. "That's what I'm the proudest about, outside of the state title. I've coached for 30 years and I've never seen a kid jump two or three weight classes and still have the success rate that he has. It's really a testament to him, his training and his other coaches to be able to adapt to that."

Wagner will miss the consistency Odom provided for Edwardsville as he heads off to join the University of Illinois wrestling team next fall.

But the most decorated grappler in program history will not forget the close-knit bond he shared with the Tigers, who helped him become the athlete he is today.

"They always have each other's back," Odom said. "No matter what, no matter what level of wrestling, we were one big family. That's what I'll miss the most.  That's what I believe it will be like at the University of Illinois. They're a very close and tight-knit group. That helps make a good team."




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