From top to bottom of lineup, Blue Devils pitch in to defend own invitational wrestling championship
QUINCY — The beauty of playing host to a high school wrestling tournament is the opportunity to compete in a packed-to-hilt gym full of familiar faces the way the Quincy High School gym was Saturday.
“Every seat was filled,” QHS junior Owen Uppinghouse said.
The drawback is what awaits in the aftermath.
“I was kind of dreading the clean up,” said Uppinghouse, the 160-pound junior. “As you can see, it’s going to take a long time.”
Tearing down the mats, collecting trash and hauling away chairs and tables didn’t take quite as long as expected, mainly because the Blue Devils attacked it the same way they went about chasing the team championship.
Everyone pitched in.
With four individual champions and five others finishing in the top four of their respective weight classes, the Blue Devils amassed 253.5 team points to distance themselves from second-place Jacksonville and the rest of the field by more than 70 points to win the Quincy Invitational.
“It shows that we’re competent wrestlers and quality wrestlers,” said senior Max Miller, who repeated as an invitational champion with the 170-pound title. “It’s really good for our program because it means we’re building, expanding and getting better.”
Going back-to-back further emphasizes that.
The Blue Devils won their own tournament for the second consecutive year, and the title gives them consecutive tourney crowns after capturing the 29-team Murdale Invitational last weekend in Carbondale, Ill.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Quincy junior Bryor Newbold, who finished second at 182 pounds. “It’s our own tournament and we just won it for the second year in a row. That’s pretty cool.”
Although the team title seemed wrapped up by the start of the championship round, Hugh Sharrow made certain the Blue Devils had momentum to build from as he won the first of Quincy’s four titles with an 18-0 technical fall over East Peoria’s Bailey Lusch at 106 pounds.
“It’s always fun to see the little twig of the team get it done,” Uppinghouse said.
It’s the second year in a row Sharrow, a sophomore, won the 106-pound title. Last year, Sharrow earned a one-point victory in the title match and was one of two QHS champions. By repeating, he’s set himself up to chase history by winning four Quincy Invitational titles.
“I’m trying to get all the rings,” Sharrow said.
As personal as his crown was, it also had widespread impact on his team since it set the right tone for the 14 championship matches. Sharrow dominated Lusch, scoring a takedown and a pair of three-point nearfalls in the first period and finishing the match with a takedown and three-point nearfall 20 seconds into the third period.
“I hit my shots better today,” said Sharrow, who is 27-5 overall. “I actually was able to finish them.”
His victory served as a spark for his teammates.
“It gives us confidence,” Miller said. “Watching our own teammates wrestle and win brings us up.”
Uppinghouse improved to 29-0, pinning Camp Point Central’s Connor Griffin in 52 seconds in the 160-pound title match. Uppinghouse won all three of his matches by pin with all coming in the first period. He stuck Pittsfield’s Ethan Thompson in 1:01 and Jacksonville’s Abram Davidson in 1:48.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Uppinghouse said. “Anything other than domination is unacceptable for me. I felt I wrestled tough competition with all respect to the kids I wrestled. They went out there and wrestled their hearts out, but it was just my day.”
Miller had to face teammate Payton Eddy in the championship match at 170, earning a 7-1 decision. He won his other two matches by pin.
“I wrestled smart,” Miller said. “I didn’t do any fancy things. I wrestled very technical.”
Newbold pinned Jacksonville’s Luca Thies in 48 seconds in the 182-pound semifinals before suffering a 7-4 loss to Pekin’s Shamon Handegan. Although disappointed, Newbold knew not be discouraged after beating Thies, who finished in the top eight in the Class 2A state tournament last season, and challenging Handegan, who won 40 matches as a junior and is 28-0 this season.
“I knew (Handegan) was good,” Newbold said. “Being that close and knowing I rode him out in the third period, that gives me a lot of confidence in my top game. I’m ready to keep working and get after it because I know what I can do.”
Quincy’s other championship came at 285 as freshman Todd Smith, who beat East Peoria’s Jose Del Toro 5-4. Smith’s takedown with 1:24 remaining in the third period earned him the title. Smith won all four of his matches by decision — winning 3-0 in the first round, 3-1 in the quarterfinals and 9-3 in the semifinals.
Eli Roberts also finished as a runner-up, dropping a 9-7 decision to Quincy Notre Dame’s Bradi Lahr. Evan Wakefield (126) and Gavin Schumacher (220) each finished fourth.
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