If you reach 100 years of age, you’re celebrated by family, friends, and even strangers as someone who made it to a magical age. In the business world, making $100,000 isn’t what it used to be, but nonetheless, it means you’ve made it to the rarified air of a six-figure salary.
For Christian Ortiz of Prospect Avenue and 22nd Street, 100 wrestling wins means all the marbles. It means making the varsity team as a freshman and staying there for four long, hard seasons. It means overcoming serious injury and the doubts of others. It means the ultimate recognition after about a decade of battling on the mats since childhood.
And it is likely that soon all of Ortiz’s years of hard work will come to fruition as he becomes one of the few state wrestlers each year—and the first ever at Bayonne High School—to reach this lofty peak.
If all goes as is hoped, the 160-pound grappler will hit the 100 mark for victories as he competes in the districts next month.
Ortiz’s freshman year was a great one, with a 20-6 varsity start and second-place district finish. That was followed by 16-2 sophomore and 34-4 junior records. He entered his senior year with 70 wins. Right now he’s 14 shy of his career goal.
His sophomore year, the only one not spent at Bayonne High, was a problematic one. He had transferred to Granby High School in Norfolk, Va., to be with family. Midway through that season, he broke his hand and had to take time off, the longest from the mat since he started wrestling in fifth grade.
“I was really worried,” said the 18 year old. “It was kind of scary.”
Not only that, but the injury could have had longer-term, non-wrestling implications.
Luckily for Ortiz, the time off, proper rehabilitation, and rest served him well. He was back wrestling the following year here in Bayonne. And once again competing for his crowning achievement.
“It was a goal (again) last year,” he said. “I was definitely striving for that.”
Ortiz has extra incentive this year. While dominating in the districts and wrestling in the regions, he didn’t get to the level he sought in the state.
“I didn’t reach my full potential last year,” he said. “It’s senior year now, I have to make it this year.”
Ortiz reaching the 100-victory mark is special for the high school, according to BHS coach Joseph Collins.
“It’s absolutely a great achievement for a Bayonne High wrestler,” he said. “We only get an opportunity to wrestle about 30 matches a year.”
Not only is Ortiz continually improving, he makes those around him better, Collins said.
“He’s a great asset to the program,” he said. “A lot of the kids wouldn’t be at the level they are if they didn’t have him to wrestle with.”
That leadership resulted in Ortiz being named co captain in both his junior and senior years.
Christian’s father, Miguel, couldn’t be any prouder of his son.
“I’ve been to nearly all of his matches,” the elder Ortiz said, “I think 99 point five percent of his matches. I’ve always been there.”
And Miguel is proud that his son is not only a good wrestler, but a good person.
“He’s a good kid. Everybody talks good about him,” he said. “People come up and say ‘hi’ to me because they know he’s my son.”
Ortiz’s sights are set on college, eyeing some of the wrestling meccas: Pennsylvania State, Ohio and Iowa universities. He is seeking a criminal-justice degree to become a police officer and eventually be a member of a department’s special weapons and tactics team.
The Ortiz family hopes to establish some type of wrestling school or club after Christian graduates to teach the sport to children in Bayonne.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.