SYCAMORE — Jacob Wever was mad.
Mad at himself.
Mad at the situation.
Mad that as a captain on the La Salle-Peru wrestling team that his injury limited him to only one regular season match before Saturday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Meet in Sycamore.
After Wever and the Cavaliers wrestled their first duals of the season on Nov. 21, the 2011-12 NewsTribune Wrestler of the Year decided to have some fun on his dirt bike the following Sunday.
During his ride, he crashed his bike — which he’s raced since he was 5 years old — and sustained a big, deep gash on his right knee, which required stitches.
The Cavs junior tried to rush his return to wrestling on multiple occasions only to have his gash reopen, which cost him more time away from the sport.
Finally, Wever gave up trying to rush back and became resigned to letting his injury heal fully, no matter how long it took.
“It was a dumb mistake, but there’s no way you could ever pay me enough to quit riding,” said Wever, who was not wearing protective gear. “It’s a regret and I was being a bonehead, but I don’t regret that I was riding.”
He missed just shy of two months but returned to practice Tuesday and to competition Saturday at the NIB 12 Meet, where a fired up Wever took out his frustrations.
With a chip on his shoulder, he earned three pin fall victories as he dominated the 126-pound weight class to win his second career NIB 12 title.
“Given that I only had two matches under my belt — and one was a forfeit — it feels pretty cool to pull off this win,” said Wever, who’s now 5-0 this season. “I had a lot of built up anger going to matches and just watching, especially being a team captain. It was great to finally be able to go out, wrestle and get a win for the team.”
In only Wever’s second contested match of the season, the weight’s top-seeded wrestler recorded a fall at 1:57 in the quarterfinals.
He earned a pin at 3:07 in the semifinals and won his weight with a fall at 2:37 in the championship.
“His knee is good, but we didn’t know if there’d be some rust with all the time off,” L-P coach Matt Fletcher said. “The first match, he was very aggressive but it didn’t look like he was hitting everything real clean. But in the second and third matches, he dominated.”
Wever was the only area wrestler to win a NIB 12 title Saturday, but two L-P wrestlers and two Ottawa grapplers finished second in their respective weights.
L-P 170-pound senior Chris Morehouse fell in the finals by an 8-4 decision to Geneseo’s Brandon Mizlo, who is ranked No. 5 in Class 2A by IllinoisMatmen.com.
Ryan Marlett, the Cavs’ 195-pound senior, also placed second as he fell in the finals by technical fall to Sycamore’s Jake Davis, the No. 1-ranked Class 2A wrestler in the state.
Cavs freshman Collin Groleau tied for third at 145 as seven of the 13 L-P wrestlers finished in the top six and medaled.
“This is a tough, tough conference and there are eight ranked teams in this conference, so any time you get some guys to the finals and to place you are really happy,” Fletcher said.
For Ottawa, 138-pounder Daniel Close could never gain the upper hand in his title match against Dixon’s Kylian Lally, who won by an 8-4 decision.
Pirate junior Cyrano Rayfield never found his grove in the 220-pound title match against Sycamore’s Martin Malone, which he lost 5-2.
Ottawa did have three third-place finishers in 132-pound junior Devon Jones, 195-pound junior Alex Fuentes and 285-pound junior Sean Taulbee.
“I thought we wrestled pretty well,” Ottawa coach Peter Marx said. “We got five all-conference kids, so I think we did pretty well. This is a very tough tournament — eight of the teams here are ranked or honorable mention on IllinoisMatmen.com — so this is one of the toughest tournaments we’ll see all year, and we held our own.”
Note: Sycamore, which is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, edged Yorkville, which ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, by a score of 198.5-196 for the team title. L-P placed sixth (106) and Ottawa was eighth (80.5).
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.