After a sleepy start, Palatine's Ball runs his way into record books

Here is proof you don't always need to be an early bird to catch the worm.

On the field Oct. 27 after Neuqua Valley eliminated Palatine in the Class 8A football playoffs, Palatine running back Dominik Ball relayed a fun story.

"Starting as a freshman I overslept the first day of practice and missed out," Ball said, his No. 7 jersey caked with mud.

"It actually made me make varsity that year because I actually showed up to the varsity practice by accident. That's how it all started," he said.

Ball finished as the Pirates' all-time rushing leader with 4,191 yards.

Running for 1,514 yards this season, Ball also set Palatine's single-game mark with 296 yards rushing in a 49-20 win over Evanston this season.

Ball may have considered it a happy accident, but Pirates coach Corey Olson recalled a staff decision to have Ball on varsity as a freshman.

"He was coming up to varsity whether he'd overslept or not," Olson said.

Either way, four years later Ball will be early - to Tulane University after his planned early graduation from Palatine.

Mastered the masters

Matt Collum, a state wrestling champion for Neuqua Valley in 2004 and now Loyola Academy's wrestling coach, won an international freestyle title Oct. 19.

At the 2023 Veterans World Championships in Loutraki, Greece, Collum swept his first three matches at 70 kilograms by technical fall.

In the gold medal match Collum, 37, beat Kazakhstan's Fuad Mussayev 6-4 to earn the title.

"I was losing going into the final period. I was kind of feeling a little tired, so I picked my pace up little bit," Collum said.

A pair of takedowns and then successfully riding out the last 45 seconds did the trick.

Collum, an Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame inductee like his brother, Paul, didn't belabor the victory.

"It was cool for like three days," Matt said.

"I wore my medal for about 10 minutes," he said. "I took it off, put it in my bag, and that was it. It was cool to come back."

Collum, who lives in Arlington Heights, hadn't competed in about five years before he got the bug. In April he debuted at the masters level by topping the B-level freestyle 70-kilogram field at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.

In his fifth season as Loyola's coach, he's mainly been trying to put Ramblers wrestling on the map.

Before Collum arrived, in 2019 Loyola placed ninth of 14 teams in the Chicago Catholic League. Last season Loyola finished fourth behind eventual Class 3A runner-up Marmion, 3A quarterfinalist Mt. Carmel and traditional power Montini.

Collum produced two 2023 state champions - current Northwestern freshman Massey Odiotti at 120 pounds in Class 3A; and on the girls side, junior Harlee Hiller.

Collum returns Hiller and three boys state qualifiers, including sophomore Kai Calcutt, second at 220 in 2023.

He hopes to return to competition, but his team comes first.

"The high school season starts next week. That's my main focus right now," Collum said.

In the books

On a third-period goal by star Reese Anetsberger, Glenbrook (18-3-1) won the state field hockey title 1-0 over last year's champion, New Trier, on Oct. 28 at Lake Forest High School.

Glenbrook is a co-op of players from Glenbrook South and Glenbrook North, where Anetsberger is a junior. The girls reversed the outcome of the 2022 final, won by New Trier.

On Oct. 29 at Halas Hall also in Lake Forest, Lane Tech beat Phillips 30-0 for the girls state flag football championship. In the semifinals Phillips got past Willowbrook, the 2022 champion. Willowbrook placed third.

Matt Collum, a 2004 Neuqua Valley graduate who is now the head wrestling coach at Loyola Academy, won an international wrestling title in October. Courtesy of Chris Brown
Matt Collum
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