Brady Ortner isn’t prone to outbursts of emotion. In the winners’ space on the podium to celebrate his gold in the 126-pound division at Saturday’s wrestling sectionals, requests popped up from his supporters.
“You’ve gotta smile!” one shouted. Others joined in. Brady, unlike the previous five hours that day, conceded. He obliged with a wry grin.
Ortner, along with 120-pounder Damon Swenson, punched their tickets to the district wrestling meets scheduled for this Saturday.
“You always want to get as many kids as you can [to advance], Vinton-Shellsburg head coach Brian Sheston said. “Really glad for the two that we got. Damon and Brady both have been working really hard.”
Ortner didn’t have an easy path to victory Saturday afternoon at Williamsburg High School. The sophomore had to take out somewhat of a bad memory in Benton’s Wyatt Bieschke. Bieschke knocked Ortner out of sectionals last season with a 46-second pin in the semifinals, forcing Ortner to compete for a third-place finish.
The finals matchup this year between the two turned more into a chess game than a wrestling match. Ortner got the match’s first and only points on an early takedown and never relented, staying on top of Bieschke to run out the remainder of the clock. There remains a possibility, however, that the two meet again at the district level since Bieschke won his second-place match.
“You’ve just gotta wrestle whoever gets out there,” Sheston said. “If it’s Bieschke, it’s Bieschke. I think were were looking forward to that matchup today.”
As for Swenson, he may be on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, according to Sheston. The 120-pound junior earned second in his division, though Sheston thinks he still has more left to give.
“Damon’s a real aggressive kid, and I think the Williamsburg kid took advantage of that a little bit,” he said. “He caught us. That kid’s really good, and we’ve just got to be a little more careful from the get-go and manage our emotiuons a little bit. We get a little worked up someitmes, a little bit more than what we should.
“Damon’s a kid who really didn’t see a lot of varsity action the last two years, kind of behind some of the other kids that were really good. So it’s really good for him, he wrestled really well this year, really improved.”