Gauge Shipp was just 6 years old when he first stepped foot on a wrestling mat. According to Gauge, "I saw a flyer for a wrestling camp here in town and after I participated in that, I just continued to keep wrestling." Wrestling runs in Gauge's family, his father, Ryan, also wrestled in high school.
This past weekend, Gauge competed at the IHSA 2A state wrestling tournament, wrestling in the 138 pound weight class. He set out for the gold on Saturday, February 18th and succeeded in taking home the “ship”. He is only the third Galesburg High School wrestler to claim the state title. Previously, Gene Denisar (1963-1964) and Gene Courtright (1944-1945) earned the state title. Along with his new state title, Gauge finished his season with a 50-0 record.
Before entering Galesburg High School as a freshman, Gauge wrestled at Churchill Junior High and he also competes and practices with a local wrestling club in Galesburg. Gauge's determination and dedication to the sport are proven time and time again by what he puts into wrestling.
Wrestling isn't just a high school sports season for Gauge. He treats wrestling as not only a sport, but his lifestyle. "Everyday I have something that involves wrestling. It is my life and it isn't just a three month sport for me." Gauge’s coach, Greg Leibach, also echoes Gaugue's wrestling determination, "Gauge started his high school career at a high level of wrestling and remained determined toward continuous improvement. He is in our practice room and his club practice room constantly. He seeks out challenges to make himself better, often traveling in the offseason to find those challenges. Gauge likes to wrestle tough opponents, because he realizes that the goal is not to protect against losses, but to become the best possible wrestler that he can be. When he arrives in a big moment like the state tournament, he takes confidence from his great preparation."
Wrestling is a physical sport, but it can be argued that it is just as much of a mental sport. Before matches Gauge trains himself to focus, "I've been wrestling for so long, at small tournaments, and larger tournaments, you just have to be ready to be the best version of yourself and be the best wrestler. It's not really about what am I going to do out there or what's going to happen. The night before a match I actually picture myself losing to my opponent. And how they would beat me. But then I picture how I would win. And I then realize, there is a better opportunity for me to win then to lose. That has always helped me."
When asked what advice he would give a student who was interested in pursuing wrestling, he said, "You have to be patient with it. It isn't something you can pick up over night. In wrestling there are so many moves and so many little details that go into it. Being patient and learning the sport is important."
Gauge will continue to wrestle and participate in the high school wrestling season next year, his senior year. He hopes to continue wrestling at the collegiate level after he graduates from Galesburg High School.
According to Liebach, "Gauge loves wrestling as much as any person I've been around. He is thankful for the opportunities that he has. He is thankful for the support of his family. I think his enjoyment mixed with his gratitude allows him to get the most out of his training."
Congratulations, Gauge, we look forward to watching you continue your wrestling career!