Owen Berry

Walden Grove senior Owen Berry, left, won the state championship Feb. 15 against Tempe's Jesus Rivera in Prescott. He was runner-up in last year's state championship.

Owen Berry is going to be leaving high school with a feather in his cap after winning the state wrestling championship in Prescott on Feb. 15, but the Walden Grove senior isn't looking to stop there.

Berry finished this season with an impressive 52 wins and two losses, three first-place titles, two second-place titles as well as sectional and state champion titles.

The season follows his 49 wins and two losses last season when he was the runner-up in the 2019 state tournament. Coming in second might demoralize some, but it didn't deter Berry from trying for the title in the 138-pound division.

"It's all a mental thing," he said. "Some people let it get them down but I used it as a fuel, 'Yeah, I took second, I know I can do better.'"

And Berry agreed the win sure felt good. But it didn't come without some hard work and training.

Victor Gonzalez, Walden Grove's wrestling coach, has worked with Berry since his junior year. He said Berry was already a talented wrestler when he came to Walden Grove but had improved his mental game since last year's runner-up finish.

"He's very unassuming," Gonzalez said. "People look at him and he doesn't look like he's going to rip your head off, but he's a pretty tough kid."

Gonzalez said Berry has a great work ethic that served him well.

"He gets done what needs to get done," he said.

Putting in that effort on the mat isn't new to Berry, who said he started wrestling in second grade and quickly fell in love with the sport.

Having a supportive family helps out, too. Berry said he wanted to thank his family in addition to his coaches and teammates.

Berry's family has been supportive in getting him to tournaments and camps around the country that have helped him improve his wrestling, he said.

"I wrestled through the summer, practiced and traveled a lot," he said. "My family (went) to 12 different states to compete at national tournaments and wrestling camps all over the country."

Berry said he likes the independence wrestling provides.

"Your coach can teach you and your team can help you, but what you do on the mat is up to you," he said. "You can't rely on anyone else. It's not anyone else's mistake if you lose."

With graduation around the corner, Berry is looking forward to competing at the next level, and colleges have shown interest.

"He's being looked at by a few schools right now," Gonzalez said. "And he's just deciding what might fit him best. What he wants to study and what part of the country he wants to go to."

Berry said when it comes to wrestling, he wants to find a team that is welcoming and supportive of each other, as well as having a good coach who works with each wrestler.

It's not just wrestling that matters. Berry wants to find a school that will give him a foundation in environmental studies.

"I want to go into habitat rehabilitation," he said. "I went to Colorado a couple of years ago and lived out in the mountains. I fell in love with playing outdoors, the environment and just doing a bunch of stuff outside. I didn't want to work inside in a cubicle. I want to work outside and be among the environment."

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732