Brady O’Keefe is one of those guys who marches to the beat of a different drum.
During football season, he picked up the nickname “socks” because of his colorful footwear, and he played most all of the season with a pink streak in his air. The pink has been cut off, but he likes to flaunt loud colored wrestling shoes.
If you’re going to be different, you better have game, and O’Keefe definitely has plenty of that.
Entering Monday’s annual Sierra Nevada Classic at the Reno Livestock Event Center, the 145-pound O’Keefe has lost just twice, both losses coming in the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions after he started the tournament with three straight victories to reach the quarterfinals.
“I’m unorthodox,” O’Keefe said last week during the TOC. “I make up my own stuff. Sometimes it gets me in a bad jam, and sometimes it gets me out of trouble. My philosophy is to get him (the opponent) in a bad position.”
That’s not uncommon, and O’Keefe has done a solid job of maintaining the upper hand in most of his matches.
“He is not conventional,” Carson High coach Paul Carter said. “He wrestles a little different. I’m pleased so far with how Brady has wrestled.”
O’Keefe literally grew up on a wrestling mat. He said he started when he was just starting school.
“The (wrestling) flyer was in my folder (that I took home),” O’Keefe said. “One day I came home and said I wanted to wrestle.
“I do like relying only on myself and not other people to do well. When you get down to it, it’s you and him.”
O’Keefe wrestled 13 years with the Carson Bulldogs, and while he admits it’s hard work, he wouldn’t trade his experiences for anything. He has flourished over the years, traveling across the United States to participate in various tournaments.
“There are a lot of really great people in the wrestling community,” O’Keefe said. “It’s a tight knit group of people.”
And it’s a group he’s in close contact with from October to July. He usually has tournaments every weekend. His best finish came in eighth grade when he took second in Fargo, N.D., in the Cadet Greco Division.
O’Keefe had an opportunity to go to Europe last summer, but it conflicted with Carson’s trip to the South Tahoe football camp, and O’Keefe opted to stay home with his football teammates.
His focus right now is the rest of the high school wrestling season, and reaching his goal of winning state. He has made one state appearance and missed by one place of making it two straight.
O’Keefe could drop down to 138s, but right now it appears he’ll stick at 145. It’s a chess game with wrestlers. They are looking for the weight that gives them the best chance at advancing the furthest.
“The 138s are tough,” said O’Keefe, naming off competitors from Bishop Manogue and Spanish Springs. “I’ll probably stay 45s.”
“He could probably get down to 138s by the end of the year,” Carter said. “I’m going to leave it in his hands to do what he wants. I don’t know where a lot of the Northern Nevada guys are going to end up weight-wise. Brady is one of the better wrestlers in Northern Nevada again this year.”
There isn’t a lot of call for 145-pound football players at the collegiate level, however, and wrestling gives O’Keefe his best chance at earning an athletic scholarship. He indicated he wants to pursue a career in hotel management.
Thus far, Cal-Baptist, Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island and Grand Canyon in Arizona are interested, and he’s received a lot of letters from other schools.
O’Keefe makes no bones about the fact football is his first love.
“I’ve been playing football since I was 7,” he said. “I love football. I love the intensity and team aspect; the brotherhood.”
O’Keefe had a solid junior year, starting two games when Brandon Maffei was injured, and returning punts.
“I feel like I did decent (last season),” O’Keefe said. “I enjoyed returning punts. I like the feeling of when the ball is coming down knowing there are guys that want to kill you when I make the catch.
“I’m hoping to start this next year in Maffei’s spot. I’m just going to work hard and hopefully I’ll get that starting spot.”