Torn ACL doesn't stop N'western's Ortiz
For most athletes a torn ACL means their season is over. Maybe even part of the next season.
But Mike Ortiz doesn't have that option. He's won over 70 matches in four years for the Tigers and has just one season left to reach his ultimate goal.
"At first I was real upset," said the Tiger 170-pound wrestler. "I decided to look at it as overcoming adversity, something to deal with. You can't look at it as a setback. You've just got to move on and deal with it."
Ortiz suffered his first ACL tear at last year's Southeast Regional Championships. Coming off his District 11 title at 152 pounds, Ortiz was positioned to earn his first trip to states and make a run at regional and state titles.
The injury occurred in his first bout at regionals, ending his junior season.
He had surgery and then started rehabbing. By summer was on pace to be near full strength for wrestling season.
Then he tore it again.
Doctors left him two options. He could have surgery and miss his senior season or he could wrestle with the injury, wearing a brace.
He didn't even consider the surgery.
"That would have ended my season," he said. "Not an option."
It won't be easy. There will be pain. The brace will limit him movement and he'll have to make some changes to the way he wrestles. "The thought of going 13 or 14 years and having only one more chance at your goal, that outweighs the pain," Ortiz said.
Along with the pain and the brace comes the fact that he missed an entire offseason of training. He has been wrestling year-round since elementary school and missing that time will make this season even more of a challenge.
Without the injury Ortiz was surely a contender for a state title. He doesn't see any reason to change his goals just because of this setback.
"His goal is still top of the podium at Hershey," said Tiger head coach Jim Moll. "I think it's possible for him, even with the brace on. He's going to have to learn to do some things a little differently."
KEY LOSS ... Pleasant Valley's Sean Bianco, last season's TIMES NEWS Wrestler of the Year, has been dismissed from the team.
Pleasant Valley coach Mark Getz would only say that Bianco was dismissed for behavioral and personal reasons.
Bianco was 42-4 last season for the Bears and a PIAA State Qualifier at 120. He had been 5-0 this season.
INDIAN ADDITION ... Lehighton got a boost over the weekend from freshman Tyler Cann, who wrestled for the first time this season at the Indian Duals. Cann went 5-0 at 145 and helped Lehighton pick up wins over Notre Dame-Green Pond and William Tennent.
Cann's arrival couldn't come at a better time as Lehighton gets ready for crucial Mountain Valley Conference matches.
MILESTONE IN SIGHT ... Northern Lehigh's Ty Herzog is currently sitting at 99 career wins after going 2-0 last week.
Herzog is primed to become the 23rd member of Northern Lehigh's 100-win club.
Herzog's next opportunity to join the exclusive club will come Wednesday at Catasauqua.