Wrestling: Weber leads RTHS trio at Oregon KSB Invitational

Rochelle senior Josey Weber finished first in the 125-pound weight class during the Oregon KSB Invitational on Saturday. Weber went 3-0 over three matches. (Courtesy photo)

Rochelle senior goes 3-0 to win division title

OREGON — Josey Weber hadn’t stood atop a wrestling podium since her youth days when she competed as a member of the Rochelle Wrestling Club. Now a senior at Rochelle Township High School, Weber showcased her skills at the Oregon KSB Invitational on Saturday, winning three consecutive matches to take home the 125-pound female weight division championship.

Weber (10-5) was one of three girls who represented RTHS in the tournament, which featured male-only and female-only brackets. The senior opened with a strong performance against Amboy’s Kaylee Scanland, earning a third-period fall before defeating Rock Falls wrestler Ashlyn Fargher with a second-period fall. Weber clinched the 125-pound division title in the third round, where she needed only 30 seconds to score a fall over Somonauk’s Rylie Donahue.

“It was quite the experience and I hadn’t taken home a win since my time in the RWC,” Weber said. “Standing on the podium and having the chance to wrestle against other girls was really cool. I didn’t stop and even when I was tired, I kept fighting. My effort during practice and my want to win have improved a lot from when I was little. I’ve learned a lot from the coaches here, inside and outside of the wrestling room. They’ve been a big help in wrestling and in life.”

Weber has spent three of her four years at RTHS with the wrestling program. Weber was the only girl on the team over her first two years, but that number has risen this season, with RTHS rostering three girls including sophomore Dempsey Atkinson, who took fifth in the 145-pound female weight division on Saturday. Atkinson (10-9) lost in the first round, but won back-to-back matches against Erie-Prophetstown’s Jayda Rosenow and Princeton’s Isabella Gibson.

“I thought I performed pretty well,” Atkinson said. “When I’m on top, I like to grab my opponent’s wrist, ride them and keep their head down. That’s how I got my last two pins... Coach [Alphonso] Vruno and coach [Nelson] Baker are great and it’s nice having two other girls on the team.”

Freshman Cammyla Macias (6-10) also competed for RTHS, finishing fourth in the 115-pound female division with an 0-3 record. Girls wrestling has been growing in popularity across the state, with the IHSA hosting its first state series for the sport last year. The IWCOA also holds a state tournament for high school girls every March after the conclusion of the IHSA season. Atkinson, who’s in her second season at RTHS, said she’s hoping to see more girls out for wrestling.

“When the IHSA created a state series for girls wrestling, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to get into the sport,” Atkinson said. “I didn’t know anything when I first started wrestling, but I’ve improved my skills on top, on bottom and in the neutral position. I’ve been trying to get a few of my friends to come out next season and I think they will, so I think our numbers will grow.”