Boys wrestling: Yorkville Christian’s Ty Edwards is the Record Newspapers Wrestler of the Year

Mustangs’ senior won Class 2A 132-pound state title

Yorkville Christian’s Ty Edwards celebrates his win over Galesburg’s Sauge Shipp in the 132-pound Class 2A state championship match on Saturday, Feb. 17th, 2024 in Champaign.

Ty Edwards was moments away from the biggest match of his life, yet the Yorkville Christian senior’s body language did not reflect it.

Edwards sat on the State Farm Center floor, his legs folded. He said a quick prayer.

“His opponent across from him, he was more stressed,” Yorkville Christian coach Mike Vester said. “Ty was sitting there at peace. I think he made peace with himself that he was going to go with everything he had for his last match.”

Edwards’ decorated high school career, up to that point, had been shorted of the ultimate prize by injury and near misses. But no more.

With his 11-4 decision over Galesburg’s Gauge Shipp in the Class 2A 132-pound final on Feb. 17 in Champaign, two-time runner-up Edwards won his first state championship.

Edwards is the Record Newspapers Wrestler of the Year.

“It meant a lot,” said Edwards, who went 48-2 this season and finished his career with a 122-10 record and 80 pins over three seasons. “It proved that all my hard work throughout the season, and the offseason as well, had paid off.”

Edwards was an Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association state runner-up as a freshman and IHSA state runner-up as a junior. He was wrestling an opponent in Shipp who hadn’t lost in two years, and beat Edwards in sectionals.

And yet he felt peace, not pressure.

“It was a peace of mind before the match and throughout the day,” Edwards said. “One of my future college teammates ended up praying over me. In the tunnel I prayed for peace and to go out and wrestle my best. I was just continually praying and relying on knowing what my abilities are and thinking no matter what, it will be good, no matter what, I go out and do my best.”

Shipp had beaten Edwards by major decision the week before in the sectional final, and had won 94 consecutive matches coming in over two years. And yet Vester and Edwards felt confident going into the rematch.

“There were four good shots in the sectional match, and Ty didn’t finish any of them. Part of it he was playing Shipp’s match and chasing him, a couple times Ty had him dead to rights and Shipp is a real crafty scrambler,” Vester said. “We decided instead of finishing on the mat we were going to get him off his feet. To get the first takedown to set the tone was big. I think it shook Gauge a little bit. We put the foot on the gas. Each time instead of chasing him we cut the circle off. It frustrated [Shipp] and we were able to capitalize. Ty’s gas tank is full, he is able to wrestle all day.

“It may have seemed like a shock the world thing that Ty won, but we knew what we were up against and also what we had.”

Yorkville Christian’s Ty Edwards stays over Galesburg’s Sauge Shipp in the final seconds of his win in the 132-pound Class 2A state championship match on Saturday, Feb. 17th, 2024 in Champaign.

Vester knows well what he has in Edwards, a Plano native. Edwards started working with Vester in the offseason before he turned 10 years old and came over full time to Vester’s Team 1006 club.

Edwards took second at 106 pounds as a freshman in the IWCOA state tournament, after the IHSA event was canceled because of the pandemic, and was a Fargo All-American the summer of 2021.

“There was always a toughness to him. He always wanted more. If there wasn’t a practice on Saturday he wanted to know why,” Vester said. “He would get medals in IKWF, but you could see he knew he had more in the tank. When I see that resolve in kids, those are the kids that I want to coach. What I see in Ty is that thing.”

That resolve was tested at the beginning of preseason Edwards’ sophomore year. In the practice room preparing for preseason nationals he suffered a knee injury that would cost him his entire season.

And yet Edwards’ commitment to the sport and team never wavered.

He made every practice and every meet. He kept the scorebook and got guys warmed up before the match. He kept track of opponents’ tendencies.

Vester said it was like having another coach. Edwards did in fact take classes to get his coach’s license.

“I knew that I couldn’t step away from the sport and had to get and had to stay involved,” Edwards said. “Not being able to wrestle, you get the bigger picture. You’re able to see things during the match that you weren’t able to see. Knowing that I could not be out there, I could still help dissect the match. I gained a little bit more awareness than normal and was able to see things from a different perspective.”

Edwards, who will wrestle collegiately at Gardner-Webb, and Yorkville Christian’s seniors leave behind quite a legacy. The program has 12 individual top-six finishes in Champaign and a 2022 Class 1A Team Dual state title over the past three years.

“I’m beyond happy with the team that I was able to be a part of,” Edwards said.