Gabriel Mortensen (12) (right) in the middle of a wrestling match. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Mortensen.

Gabriel Mortensen (12) is in the middle of his fourth wrestling season at Franklin. At 17 years old, he has been wrestling since his freshman year, and is currently one of the team captains. Mortensen was originally wary when coaches approached him in the eighth grade about going out for the team, and turned down the offer, saying “I didn’t really want to wear those singlets. They looked kinda funny.” After getting over the initial shock of an awkward uniform, Mortensen started wrestling a year later. “It turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought” says Mortensen. He also gave up football in the eighth grade to dedicate more time to wrestling.

Wrestling is one of the less covered high school winter sports, falling in the shadow of all-powerful basketball. That doesn’t stop Mortensen from putting in the time for improvement within the sport. When asked about his routine for staying in shape for the wrestling season, he gets excited. “This is where things get spicy,” Mortensen says, rubbing his hands together. “I’ll go to the gym at 8am, and I’ll hit a body part. Then I’ll go later in the day and I’ll do either sauna or hot tub for recovery. I do that seven days a week, and I have five meals a day. It’s usually something like chicken breast and rice.”

Mortensen is very involved with his team, and an inspiration to many, according to teammate Doré Young (11). “Gabe is a model to experienced and inexperienced wrestlers alike,” she says. “He holds the whole team accountable [for] high quality work and brings the whole room to a higher level.” Mortensen is a serious athlete, but sometimes in a stressful sport it’s nice to have someone to relieve the tension. Young says: “He frequently jokes around in the wrestling room. This is a favorable quality because it brings us closer as a team.”

Wrestling is a difficult sport to excel in, and one that requires dedication, hard work and the ability to overcome frequent and discouraging losses. Mortensen says that the main thing that keeps him coming back to wrestling even after the worst defeat is the chance to redeem himself. “Knowing that even with the guys who beat me, there’s always a chance I get to wrestle them again, and as long as I work hard, I could beat them in the future.” This perseverance is a quality necessary to continue on with wrestling past high school and on a collegiate level, which Mortensen hopes to do. Young says that everyone on the team is “excited to see what Gabe will do next,” and agrees that he’s definitely ready to wrestle on a college level. While he started out doubting his success in the sport, Mortensen is now an accomplished wrestler who brings pride to his school and is an inspiration to his teammates.