‘I kind of got my swagger back’: Uppinghouse rebounds to take third, make QHS wrestling history with second state medal

February 17, 2024 - Champaign, Illinois - Quincy's Owen Uppinghouse celebrates his win over St. Charles East's Anthony Gutierrez in their Class 3A 165-pound third-place match at the Illinois High School Association Individual Wrestling State Finals. Uppinghouse won the bout, 7-4.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Quincy High School's Owen Uppinghouse reacts to beating St. Charles East's Anthony Gutierrez in the third-place match at 165 pounds at the Class 3A state tournament Saturday at State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Owen Uppinghouse admitted the sting wasn’t easy to shake.

The Quincy High School 165-pound senior wrestler went to the Class 3A state tournament undefeated with his sights set squarely on becoming the fifth state champion in program history. A quarterfinal loss Friday morning to LaGrange Lyons’ Gunnar Garelli ruined that.

Although he rebounded with a second-period pin in the wrestlebacks Friday night, Uppinghouse couldn’t totally shed his disappointment.

“It was really eating away at me,” Uppinghouse said. “I was able to come back and bounce back with a victory, which helped me get some of my confidence back. It was definitely a sleepless night (Friday) night, just thinking of what could have happened.

“In my second match (Friday) and my matches today, I had to get those thoughts out of my head and wrestle my matches.”

It was vintage Uppinghouse until the end.

He won three straight matches Saturday, beating St. Charles East’s Anthony Gutierrez 7-4 in the third-place match at State Farm Center on the University of Illinois campus to become just the third QHS wrestler ever to win two state medals.

Uppinghouse took third as a junior at 160 pounds.

“I was definitely expecting better and wanting better, but not a sour note to go out on,” Uppinghouse said. “I was definitely happy my last high school match was a win. I would have been pretty pissed had I lost.”

Quincy High School’s Owen Uppinghouse tries to control St. Charles East’s Anthony Gutierrez during their third-place match at 165 pounds in the Class 3A state tournament Saturday in Champaign, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

Leading 2-0 and starting the second period on the bottom, Uppinghouse immediately earned an escape, but Gutierrez took him down with 39 seconds remaining in the period to cut the deficit to 3-2. Uppinghouse responded with a reversal seven seconds later.

In the third period, Gutierrez scored a takedown with 40 seconds left to trim the deficit to 5-4, but Uppinghouse got another reversal and rode him out for the victory.

“The match I lost to Garelli, he was waiting for me to make mistakes,” Uppinghouse said. “So today, I think me playing a little more defensively and waiting for the right shots and not diving at feet is what got me the victories in these close matches.”

The emotion Uppinghouse showed after the third-place victory — he let out a barbaric yawp and flexed before getting his arm raised — showed what it meant to finish with a victory.

“I kind of got my swagger back,” Uppinghouse said. “I was just happy to look up at my coaches. I knew I wanted to do at least as well as I did last year, so knowing I made it out of the tournament with a win was a big deal for me.”

Uppinghouse joins Jock Miller and Jermaine Dade as the only two-time medalists in program history.

Miller took fourth at 103 pounds in 1956 and won the state title at 112 pounds in 1957. Dade finished fifth at 171 pounds in 1998 and went undefeated in winning the Class AA state title at 171 pounds in 2000.  

Uppinghouse guaranteed himself a medal by beating Rockton Hononegah’s Connor Diemel in the blood round, using an escape and takedown in the second period to set the stage for a 7-2 victory. Diemel chose to start the third period neutral and Uppinghouse took him down to put the match out of reach.

Uppinghouse followed with a 7-0 victory over DeKalb’s Jacob Luce, taking the lead with a takedown 35 seconds into the first period. Another takedown in the second period gave him a 4-0 lead, and Uppinghouse used an escape and a takedown to seal the victory.

He finishes his season with a 56-1 record.

“I think my season was really spectacular and I think our team’s season was really spectacular,” Uppinghouse said. “We were able to get that Western Big 6 title. I think, as a program, when you look at how we’re leaving the program as compared to where it was, we’re in the right direction. That meant a lot to me.”

A pair of Quincy Notre Dame wrestlers fell one match short of reaching the podium in the Class 1A tournament.

Bradi Lahr, a sophomore at 144 pounds, suffered a 6-3 loss to Richmond-Burton’s Emmett Nelson, who used a takedown and a reversal in the first period to take control of the match. A Lahr escape midway through the third period pulled him within 4-3, but Nelson cemented the victory with a takedown.

Lahr finished the season with a 40-7 record.

Taylin Scott, a 215-pound junior, used an optional start at the start of the second period to gain an escape point and tie Stanford Olympia’s Nolen Yeary at 1 before Yeary took him down and turned it into a pin at the 2:31 mark. Yeary beat Scott in the sectional semifinals as well. 

Scott finished the season with a 45-6 record.

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