Weber makes the right choice at Stevenson
Stevenson's Justin Weber (left) wrestles Javier Dominguez at 145 pounds Saturday. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:54AM
FRANKLIN PARK — Three years ago, Stevenson senior Justin Weber was a freshman quarterbacking the sophomore football team.
He grew up playing football and was on a path to play the marquee position in what is the marquee varsity sport at many high schools.
Then he gave it up.
“It was a surprisingly easy decision for me,” Weber said. “My dad loves football, so that made it a little harder. But I didn’t love the sport anymore, and I wanted to be great in one sport instead of good in two sports.”
The greatness Weber is striving for will have to come in wrestling, a physically punishing and mentally taxing sport. For Weber, that’s the whole point.
“I like knowing that I’m physically able to be more dominant than another kid, to be able to go out and beat another kid,” he said. “The sport makes me tougher. All the pressure is just on me and I like that. I love the pressure. There’s no other sport like it.
“Like (American wrestling legend) Dan Gable said, ‘After you’ve wrestled, everything else in life seems easy.’ ”
Weber is currently ranked No. 3 in Illinois at 145 pounds by Illinois Matmen, and the Wisconsin recruit improved to 24-1 while winning an individual title at the 13-team Leyden Invitational Saturday. Weber won by technical fall and major decision before posting another tech fall on the title mat against previously unbeaten Hasan Muhammad of Richards. Coaches voted Weber the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
“He wants a state title and he’s dead-set on it,” Stevenson coach Shane Cook said. “He has wrestled year-round for the past two years and the time he has invested is paying off.”
Weber went 38-7 last year, won a regional title, and finished one win away from a guaranteed state place medal (a top-six finish at the Class 3A individual state finals in Champaign).
Weber wasn’t as offensive-minded as a junior, but he’s not holding back this season.
“It’s senior year and my confidence is as high as it can be right now,” Weber said. “Last year, I’d put up points on an average kid but not against the better kids. I’d shoot and score but then I’d just hang on to get a small victory because I was satisfied with the ‘W.’ This year, I’m only satisfied with domination.”