Prairie State Profile: Five area wrestlers ready to chase state championships


Quincy High School's Bryor Newbold, center, and Quincy Notre Dame's Bradi Lahr, right, are two of the five area wrestlers who will compete in the Illinois state championhips this weekend in Champaign, Ill. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — The Illinois state wrestling tournament begins at noon Thursday with five area wrestlers having qualified to grapple at State Farm Center on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign. 

Wednesday, they had the opportunity to visit the Illini wrestling facility in Huff Hall, get a workout in and prepare for the pursuit of glory.

Their coaches — Quincy High School’s Phil Neally, Quincy Notre Dame’s Adam Steinkamp and Illini West’s Lyle Klein — took time to discuss each wrestler and what makes them unique as they head into the final weekend of the prep season.

Quincy High School’s Owen Uppinghouse | Matt Schuckman photo

Quincy High School senior Owen Uppinghouse

Weight class: 165 pounds

Record: 51-0

State ranking: No. 1 in Class 3A

First-round opponent: Highland Park’s Dmitry Derbedyenyev

Neally on Uppinghouse: “It’s tough as an athlete to try to hold yourself to a certain standard all the time, and he does a great job of knowing that each day he comes into the room he can make himself better. He doesn’t listen to the hype about how everybody thinks he is this or that. He stays pretty level-headed, pretty humble about things.

“Every day that he comes in the room, we don’t have to remind him to work harder or be a leader or get after things. He takes it upon himself to rule the roost and do the right things all the time.

“Mentally, he knows the work that he’s put in. He’s earned the right to be there. We talk a lot about that. You have done everything possible as far as keeping yourself in shape, practicing, being ready to go. Overall, I feel when he’s on the mat that confidence shows. He’s earned the right to be there and I think he knows that.”

Quincy High School’s Bryor Newbold | Matt Schuckman photo

Quincy High School senior Bryor Newbold

Weight class: 175 pounds

Record: 44-6

State ranking: No. 9 in Class 3A

First-round opponent: Stevenson’s Themba Sitshela

Neally on Newbold: “I call Bryor a wrestling hound. He loves the sport, and anything you love you take care of it, you study it, you make sure it’s in the right place all the time and you respect it. I truly feel that about Bryor. He loves the sport of wrestling. 

“So does Owen, but Bryor is in love with the sport of wrestling and all aspects of it — from college teams to high school wrestlers to the shoes that are made to different things he can do at practice to make himself better. That’s what has gotten him to a different level. He does the things necessary to put himself in a spot to be successful.

“The work he has put in is impressive. All the things I said about Owen and virtually be said about Bryor and the way that he does things. He embraces the competition, embraces the state tournament, loves the environment. He enjoys the moment and wants to get the most out of it.”

Quincy Notre Dame’s Taylin Scott | Matt Schuckman photo

Quincy Notre Dame junior Taylin Scott

Weight class: 215 pounds

Record: 43-4

State ranking: No. 7 in Class 1A

First-round opponent: Chicago Military Academy-Bronzeville’s Sean Brown

Steinkamp on Scott: “One of the probably the perfect comments I received was from another coach at regionals and he said, ‘Man, Taylin is every bit of 215.’ It was funny because he weighed in at 197 that day. He looks bigger than he is, but he gives up quite a bit of weight. Some of his losses, which haven’;t been many, have been to guys who are 15 or 18 pounds heavier and gain some leverage off that, but he never backs down because of it.

“He’s built and he’s strong and he’s a competitor, whether it’s on the football field or the wrestling mat. He doesn’t know how to back off.

“A lot of people don’t know this about Taylin, but he’s a 4.0 student and he’s very smart. He’s a little methodical out there at times, but he looks for his opening. He’s very patient. When it’s there, he executes. A lot of times he finishes very gracefully some difficult moves. That’s his best attribute. He’s smart. He knows when to attack and how to set it up. When the opportunity presents itself, that’s when he goes and he strikes.

Quincy Notre Dame’s Bradi Lahr | Matt Schuckman photo

Quincy Notre Dame sophomore Bradi Lahr

Weight class: 144 pounds

Record: 38-5

State ranking: Honorable mention in Class 1A

First-round opponent: Fairfield’s Scotty Cuff

Steinkamp on Lahr: “His experience matters. His mom shot me a photo of him, his uncle and his grandpa when he started wrestling for me when he was like 4 years old. It took me a ways back, but it’s a reminder of the experience he comes in with. He thrives on the competition level. For him, it’s about going out and executing moves and being smart.

“He’s the type of kid I would have hated wrestling when I wrestled. He’s 6-foot-1 at 144 pounds, so he definitely comes in with a ton of leverage over most of his opponents.

“I’ve seen maturity out of him. It reminds me of Zach Haley. These guys are so good and have so much experience when they come in that they feel like they have to go out prove they can dominate everybody they step on the mat with. Trying to get them to realize it’s not all about pinning you guy in 30 seconds to show everybody how good you are. It’s about going out and hitting your moves and finding a way to get a ‘W’ and move on.”

Illini West’s Shawn Watkins | Matt Schuckman photo

Illini West junior Shawn Watkins

Weight class: 175 pounds

Record: 35-9

State ranking: Honorable mention in Class 1A

First-round opponent: Manteno’s Carter Watkins

Klein on Watkins: “Shawn has been wrestling since he was probably 5 years old, and really that’s what sets a lot of these guys and girls apart. He’s a grinder. He works hard. He’s good on his feet, and he’s one heck of a rider on top. That’s really his strong suit. We like to have him in those positions because that’s where he tends to score.

“He’s also pretty resilient. We went through a little bit of a slump during the season, but he remained confident and kept plugging away. We had some of our older guys come in to check out what he was doing, and he got it put together at the right time.

“I don’t think he’s scared of anyone, and honestly, I don’t think he should be. He’s wrestled some really good guys. He just looks at it as another challenge. That’s one of his better qualities. He doesn’t get worked up. He just looks at it as the next opponent. He wants to know what the plan is, and we have a plan for this weekend. It’s all going to come down to wrestling on the mat.”

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