Wrestling toward State

Wrestling toward State

by GRACE VAUGHN Staff Writer

Wrestling room

When I entered the MBHS wrestling room for the first time, I was told to take off my shoes. Not completely understanding, I followed the guidance, and while removing them I noticed one other person on the mat. Practice had not started, but one wrestler was already working alone: Gray Ortis. He was practicing shots using a sled weighted down with two 45 lb. plates. 

Last year, MBHS had only one state champion, and that was Gray Ortis. While earning the 7A State Championship was impressive by all accounts, equally impressive is how hard he worked to earn that title. 

Gray Ortis started wrestling 11 years ago after he was inspired by his oldest brother. However, his athletic talents were not solely put toward wrestling. Ortis has always been athletic; he has played baseball, basketball and football but wrestling is special to him.

“Compared to other sports I've played, wrestling is the most mentally and physically challenging,” Ortis said. He also says he wants to pursue wrestling at the next level and is pushing himself to reach his full potential. Even though it is such a challenging sport, he has risen to be a state champion and a leader. 

Coach Justin Ransom on Gray Ortis

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ortis as well as MBHS’ Head Wrestling Coach, Justin Ransom. When I asked Ransom what Gray brought to the team, he answered, “Gray has not only brought success to the program, he is also a positive example in a room full of younger guys.” Teammate Michael Lorino commented: “He wins big matches...and practices really hard."

Being both a success and a positive example may be difficult for most high school boys, but there’s an internal switch Ortis can flip when it is time to work: “His mentality and work ethic when it comes down to being in here, lights turn on, he can switch gears and go from being a fun, nice, loving guy to a guy you don't wanna be across from,” Ransom said.

Being able to successfully fill both his individual and team role at the highest level is certainly noteworthy. However, Coach Ranson points out that Ortis is more than just a tough wrestler.

“His energy is fun, easy going, [and he] has good, positive energy almost all the time no matter what the situation is. Whether it’s coming off a hard wrestling match or if it’s dealing with school or watching him socialize.” 

Spartan Team Outlook for 2020-2021

While Ortis is the only current state champ, the Spartans are looking to add more titles in more weight classes. When asked about this year’s team Ransom said, “Obviously our team aspirations are a state title, and Gray’s definitely the forerunner in that. He does a good job leading the team and hopefully [he can] lead the team to a team state title.” 

Along with Gray Ortis, Ransom listed a few other prospects to win a state title: John McCimmin, Michael Lorino, Harrison England, Coleman Bates and Woody Fipps. 

As of late January 2021, Gray Ortis has stacked up a stellar record of 27-1. He and the Spartans will wrestle at 152 for the 6A title February 18-20 in Huntsville, AL.