Fairmont High School junior Joe Weber has been wrestling since he was in first grade.
He's currently in his fifth varsity season for the Fairmont/Martin County West Red Bulls, and this season is proving to be one of Weber's best.
The 152-pounder earned the No. 10 spot in the Class AA individual state rankings last month before moving to No. 9 during Friday's newly-released Guillotine poll.
LOCKING UP — Fairmont/Martin County West grappler Joe Weber (left) locks up with Waseca opponent Jack Milbrett during 160-pound action on Dec. 4 in Sherburn. Weber went on to pin Milbrett to help the Red Bulls capture a 69-12 victory over the Bluejays. Weber currently holds the No. 9 spot in the Class AA 152-pound state individual rankings. Photo by Leanna Becker
Weber also is just eight wins away from reaching the century mark for his outstanding prep career.
"The ranking is just a number right now in the season. It's cool, but things can change," Weber said.
While the rankings might change, Weber's place on the mat and in the Red Bulls' lineup is secure.
Weber started his varsity career in seventh grade for the Fairmont Cardinals, handling the 103-pound matches. Four years later and with much more experience, Weber is grateful to be wrestling at 152.
"It's nice to wrestle against guys your own strength. Where we wrestle in matches depends on the match-ups we want for the team. Where I wrestle might change based on that, but I do like being able to wrestle my own weight," Weber said.
Weber, who has compiled a 13-5 record this season, has claimed two third-place finishes at invitationals, but is hoping that this season ends at a much larger tournament in St. Paul.
Last year, Weber finished the season just one victory away from the Class AA state tournament, but lost his final match of the section tournament to thwart those dreams.
"In last year's section tournament I finished third, and the top two individuals at sections go to state. I lost my true-second match and didn't get to go. This year I really want to make it to the state tournament," said Weber.
This season has not been without its challenges for the junior, with losses to highly-ranked opponents like Class A, No. 4-ranked Zach Carlson from Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg at the Redwood Valley Riot Invite on Dec. 16 and losing to a top-ranked North Dakota wrestler at the Rumble on the Red tournament Dec. 27-29 in Fargo, N.D.
"I think one of my toughest matches so far this season was in Fargo. I lost to one of the top-ranked guys in North Dakota, but I got him on his back early in the first period. I was excited to see that I could do that against someone that good," said Weber.
Without a match this week, the Red Bull coaches have been able to help Weber and his teammates work on their technique and focus during practices.
"This week we don't have any matches and so the coaches have been taking us to watch video of our some of the close matches we've had. It's been helpful to see the things we are doing and to see what things we can change to wins," said Weber.
For Weber, he knows the style of wrestling that works for him, and this season has been about improving his technique and moves to get the win.
"I like to wrestle on my feet. I'm quick and I try to use that to my advantage. I also wrestle with a lot of emotion. I know a lot of guys don't wrestle with as much, but in big matches, it's hard not to," said Weber.
For now, every match is an important one for Weber as he moves toward the 100-win milestone and hopefully a state tournament match.