O’Keefe’s season has included top finishes in elite tournaments
When Brady O’Keefe shows up for a wrestling match, his hair could be any number of colors. Ditto for his shoes. Sometimes the colors are so bright you need shades.
O’Keefe isn’t bashful about being a bit flamboyant, either, and he’ll talk a little smack once in a while, too. It’s all in good fun, and it’s not really bragging if you can back it up, and O’Keefe certainly can do that.
Entering Saturday’s Albany Invitational, O’Keefe is 24-7 after winning his weight class at last weekend’s Sutter Invitational.
“I think I’ve had a really good season so far,” said O’Keefe. “My biggest improvement has been working on my offensive moves. I’ve always been more of a defensive wrestler until this year, and that’s what I was relying on to win matches. I have an unorthodox style, and I never feel I’m out of a match until it’s over.”
Nick Redwine, CHS assistant coach, explained O’Keefe’s comment.
“He puts himself into situations sometimes that wrestlers don’t normally do,” Redwine said. “He will let somebody put him in a wrist and a half because he has a counter for it. It’s fun to watch.”
O’Keefe, who’s 3-0 in league matches, has been at his best in tournaments. Besides the win at Sutter, he was second at Winnemucca, second at the Sierra Nevada Classic, fifth at the prestigious Doc Buchanan Invitational in California and eighth at the Tournament of Champions.
O”Keefe, who hopes to wrestle at the next level, said his college chances got a boost with his fifth-place finish at the Doc Buchanan. The tournament is invitation only, and attracts wrestlers from all over the country. O’Keefe posted a 5-2 record. His quarterfinal loss was 16-4 to a Jaden Enriquez of Mission Oak-Tulare (Calif.), probably his toughest opponent this season. He was pinned in his other loss.
“It was a great experience, and I think it helped a lot,” O’Keefe said. “The day after the tournament I received a couple of e-mails from colleges. I’d been a little under the radar, but after that tournament I started getting more interest.”
Two of the schools that are showing recent interest are Oregon State and North Dakota State. O’Keefe said Heidelberg University, a D-3 school in northern Ohio, and D-2 Minot State have shown the most interest.
O’Keefe said the Buchanan event is probably tougher than the TOC which is held in Reno every year.
“It’s an invitation only tournament,” O’Keefe. “There are no easy warm-up matches like there are at the TOC. I didn’t really run into anybody real tough until the quarterfinals (at the TOC).”
And, O’Keefe managed to get through the entire tournament without an injury unlike the TOC and Sierra Nevada Classic.
The two losses at the TOC were especially tough to take. He was clinging to a one-point lead in the quarterfinals when he let Crock County’s Kurt Mode up for an escape point, and then O’Keefe was immediately taken down and lost the match.
He battled back and then lost a 5-3 thriller to De La Salle’s Taylor Omania. With the score tied at 3 and the clock quickly ticking toward zero, it appeared O’Keefe had registered a takedown for a 5-3 lead. However, the official didn’t see it that way. Omania quickly recovered for a controversial takedown and a 5-3 victory. O’Keefe was injured on the takedown which forced him to default the match for seventh place.
“I didn’t think points should have been awarded either way,” Redwine said. “I didn’t feel there was a takedown by either guy; full control had not been established. It’s better to let things play out (longer).”
O’Keefe breezed into the finals at the SNC, but had to injury default against top-seeded Ryan Ojeda of Servite-Anaheim. O’Keefe was trailing 3-2 at the time of the injury.
He’s now healthy, and he appears to be on a collision course with Reed’s Israel Casarez. The Reed star outlasted O’Keefe in Winnemuca. Both wrestlers could end up at either 138 or 145.
Right now, it appears O’Keefe wants to continue at 138 the rest of the season.
He indicated he spent extra time on the mat against Galena’s Griffin Gustafson before winning 20-4. He said he did it because he’s trying to cut weight and didn’t want a quick win.
At either weight, he appears, at least on paper, to do well enough to make a trip to the state meet.
in Las Vegas.