Meet Galesburg's newest state champion: Gauge Shipp

Mike Trueblood
Special to the Register-Mail
Gauge Shipp poses for a photo after winning the IHSA class 2A state wrestling title.

The Galesburg City Council gave Gauge Shipp a sign last week that will be posted on roads leading into the city proclaiming him a state champion. But it's not the first time he's had one.

"It's really nice when I come back into town to see the sign," says Shipp, who won the IHSA 138-pound Class 2A state title last month in Champaign competing for the Galesburg Silver Streaks.

"I had one in middle school but they made this one much bigger."

That first sign came after Shipp won the seventh grade state championship wrestling for Churchill Junior High.

He missed out on chance for an addition to the signage the following year when the eighth-grade state tourney was cancelled due to COVID.

But since Shipp hit high school, he hasn't stopped winning, compiling a 125-9 record at GHS that includes a 43-7 mark as a 120-pound sophomore which saw his season end at state.

"He has probably had it as his goal since he started to have a state championship," said Streaks' coach Greg Leibach. "It's been a three-year quest for it."

And only a junior, Shipp will try to do it all again next season.

Making history

Shipp is only Galesburg's third state champion wrestler in history. The last was Gene Denisar at 154 pounds in 1964 and the other was Gene Courtwright in 1945.

The Silver Streaks last state champ in any sport was Josh Eiker's state track titles in two different classes in the 100 meter and 200-meter dashes in 2016 and 2015.

How it started

Shipp played all sports as a youngster but took to the mat for the first time at age 6 for a clinic held at Gale School.

He played football through his freshman year at GHS but after that, his focus shifted totally to wrestling.

"Playing multiple sports has probably helped him," said Leibach. "You can see it in his athleticism on the mat."

Tools of his trade

Leibach feels Shipp is strong in all three areas of wrestling, noting his escape ability from the bottom as a prime weapon and his top game, which may be his best.

"He's got a long reach and great wrist strength," said Leibach. "He just has a sense of which direction he needs to go to take an opponent's shoulders to the mat."

Postseason by the numbers

Shipp went 10-0 in the postseason and posted two falls, two tech falls and a major decision. His state title victory came by a 15-0 score over Jake Hamiti of Joliet Catholic.

"We knew as the season developed, he hadn't lost, and we knew through regional and sectional he was pretty dominant," said Leibach. "But once the season ended and we looked at the statistics we went, 'Wow!'"

Season's standout moments

Shipp had a welcome home celebration at the Galesburg fieldhouse upon returning home from Champaign and the sign presentation from the city, but he recalls his big moment coming at the State Farm Center.

"I remember being in the tunnel waiting for the finals when I realized how many people were watching," said Shipp."That was a moment I'll never forget. I never wrestled before that many people before."

Leibach added, "He wanted to bring the shine onto Galesburg and Galesburg wrestling and he's done that."

What the future holds

Shipp will attend clinics and tournaments this summer with the big event on his schedule the Illinois state freestyle and Greco-Roman tournament. Success in that tourney will earn a spot in the national tourney for which he qualified last year.

Although a junior, he has thought about college.

"I definitely want to go on to the next level," he said. "But I still have a lot of time. I'll have a lot of opportunities next year and I will love being with my team. I love my guys."

Mike Trueblood is a freelance correspondent.