‘In my mind, I’m the best in the state’: Uppinghouse keeps perfect record intact at sectional


Referee Ray Eickelschulte raises Owen Uppinghouse's hand after his 3-0 victory in the championship match of the 165-pound division at the Class 3A sectional on Saturday at Blue Devil Gym. | David Adam photo

QUINCY — To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.

Owen Uppinghouse believes he’s the man to beat at 165 pounds in Illinois.

Uppinghouse won three matches this weekend in the Class 3A sectional in Blue Devil Gym to remain undefeated after 54 matches. The most important victory was a 3-0 decision over Joliet Catholic’s Max Corral in the championship match that sends him to next weekend’s state tournament at the State Farm Center in Champaign as one of the top threats in his class to win a state championship.

He’s been looking forward to a return to Champaign since finishing third at 160 pounds last year. 

“I’m definitely going to be keeping my head on straight and not getting a big head this week, and at the same time not be scared,” Uppinghouse said. “In my mind, I’m the best in the state, and I hope to bring that with every match going forward. I really wrestled confidently today.”

After drawing a first-round bye, Uppinghouse defeated Lockport’s Durango Valles 15-4. He pinned Lincoln-Way East’s Rory Moran in 2:46 in the semifinals.

The first period of the title match against Corral was scoreless, but Uppinghouse put himself in a good position by riding out Corral and not allowing an escape in the second period when Corral started in the down position.

Corral chose the neutral position in the third period, giving Uppinghouse a point for a 1-0 lead. Uppinghouse thwarted a couple of scoring moves by Corral and grabbed two points with a takedown in the final seconds.

“A lot of people know me for how good I am at riding people out when I am on top,” Uppinghouse said. “But a very underrated part of my game are my reversals and wrestling out of the bottom position. If I’m on the bottom, I’m usually going to score.

“I knew if I wrestled smart and kept good position, the refs won’t hit you for stalling if you’re active and you’re looking for openings. I knew that if I wrestled patient and smart, I could catch him on the edge, and luckily, I was able to get that takedown.”

The victory was a little too close for comfort for Blue Devils coach Phil Neally, but he won’t complain.

“We’ve got to do better about circling, being aggressive and controlling the tie-ups,” he said. “We always talk about that — controlling the tie-up and staying in good position. Owen stayed in great position and won that match, but we could do better with forcing our will on him instead of the other way around.”

Uppinghouse is ranked third in Class 3A behind Lyons Township’s Gunnar Garelli and Glenbard West’s Colin Carrigan, according to FloWrestling.com. Garelli (46-3) and Carrigan (46-1) met in the finals at Hinsdale Central, with Carrigan winning 5-3. The No. 4-ranked wrestler at 165, DeKalb’s Jacob Luce, won the sectional at Hoffman Estates.

“Corral (ranked No. 7) brought what I needed right before the state tournament,” Uppinghouse said. “You ask for those kinds of matches. You don’t run from that stuff. I’m definitely glad I got that match.”

Joining Uppinghouse in Champaign will be Bryor Newbold, who lost his semifinal match 3-2 in triple overtime to AJ Mancilla of Bradley Bourbonnais, then earned his trip to state in the 175-pound class with a 7-2 victory — also in triple overtime — over Jackson Zaeske of Lincoln-Way East.

After trading one-point escapes with Zaeske in regulation and in the first two overtimes, Newbold finally scored a two-point takedown, then added a three-point near fall before the match was stopped.

“I knew I had to get up and fight his hands when I stood up,” Newbold said of Zaeske. “Any time you’re going to stand up in triple overtime, you can’t get hit with stalling. Kids most likely will just sit there with the tightest gut they can and let you waste your time fighting their hands. I knew that before I stood up, I had to clear those hands and fight them and then get up. Thankfully, I ended up reversing the kid because he put legs in.”

Newbold (47-6) finished third after Mason Gougis of Romeoville forfeited the third-place match. Both will advance to Champaign, where Newbold won one out of three matches at 182 pounds last year.

“I’ve really got to be focused, but I’ve also got to relax at the same time,” he said. “I’m really excited to go back to state. I loved it last year. I’m looking to bring home a medal this year, but I have to stay focused and train hard this week. This weekend is not going to be easy. It’s the best kids in the state. I know I have the potential to bring home a medal.”

Newbold was ranked No. 3 by FloWrestling at 175 pounds before the sectional.

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