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Driving Force

Brendon Wiseley, who had the lower part of his leg amputated following an accident when he was 7, has never let his disability limit him, whether he’s on the wrestling mat or a race track.

Article
John Tranchina
Photos
Marc Rains
Posted
December 28, 2019

Imagine you’re about to step onto the mat for a big high school wrestling match, and you see your opponent remove a prosthetic leg and hop onto the mat to face you. You’d think you’re about to win easily, right? Well, not if you’re going against Brendon Wiseley of Charles Page High School in Sand Springs.

Wiseley, who had the lower part of his right leg amputated following a lawnmower accident when he was 7, has never let his disability limit him, whether he’s on the wrestling mat or a race track.

Yes, in addition to being an outstanding wrestler, he’s also a highly-regarded race car driver who will be competing in the 600cc non-winged micros division of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals (Jan. 13-18).

Wrestling last year as a junior, Wiseley placed second in the 6A state tournament at 106 pounds, recording a 37-12 record on the season. But getting pinned in 2:56 by Edmond Memorial’s Cruz Aguilar in the state final didn’t sit well and fuels his motivation for this year.

Wiseley’s determination not to let anything hold him back pushes him to success at whatever he puts his energy toward.

“He doesn’t use that as a crutch at all,” says Sandites wrestling coach Jarrod Patterson. “He’s very competitive and always wants to win. At first, it was a surprise [to see what he could accomplish], and at this point now, I honestly forget that he doesn’t have a leg because he does everything pretty well the same, if not better than the other kids in the room.

“He’s a hard-working kid, so that helps. He works hard in the practice room, and then it shows when he goes out and competes.”

Wiseley acknowledges that he sometimes recognizes the condescending look on the faces of his opponents before a match when he takes off his leg.

“Last year, there were a lot of them. They gave me some looks like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to beat this kid,’” Wiseley recalls. “I’ve had one kid who I’ve beat five or six times, and every single time he looks at me like he’s going to beat me, and tries to get in my head. I don’t have anything against him, but you can’t let anyone get in your head.

“Wrestling is a mind game. It’s all about want. If you want it, you’re going to go get it.”

That mentally-tough attitude served him well in conquering his devastating injury as a 7-year-old. Wiseley credits his parents with instilling a mindset that nothing could hold him back.

“I guess it’s good that I was young enough that I could overcome it,” Wiseley says. “My parents taught me that you should never sit down and feel defeated.”

Wiseley, whose father owned a sprint car team when he was little, had already begun car racing at 5, and his relentless dedication had him back on the course just four days after the incident.

“I was supposed to race that Saturday after the accident. Since I didn’t have a right foot anymore, the doctor said that I was going to have to change the way I did things,” Wiseley recalls. “And he said, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ And I said, ‘When can I race again?’ I already had the mindset that I was going to race. When I got out of the hospital, we went right to the race shop and started making some hand throttles. My dad and mom told me that I should give it some time, and I pulled the, ‘You told me never to sit down, to get right back up and go back at it,’ and they couldn’t argue with it. They were happy that I was trying to do something and not let it hold me back.”

He got his first leg prosthetic a month after the accident and continued racing throughout his childhood, eventually switching from the hand throttles to just using his left foot on both the gas and brake pedals. He’s been racing ever since, competing in his first Chili Bowl in 2018.

Wiseley didn’t even start wrestling until he was in seventh grade, but he picked it up quickly, placing third in his very first tournament. He adopted a unique style to deal with the natural disadvantage of not being able to stand and use the leverage of two legs to push against his opponent.

As Wiseley recalls, the coaches helped him design his wrestling technique to copy that of Anthony Robles, a former collegiate wrestling star from Arizona State. Robles won the NCAA national championship at 125 pounds in 2011 with only one leg.

“I’ve had a couple of different coaches help me out, but at the beginning, they always told me never to stand up, always wrestle on one knee as Anthony Robles did in college,” Wiseley says. “This year, we’re trying to change the approach.”

Wiseley is approaching this wrestling season as if he has something to prove.

“Last year, I came up short,” says Wiseley, who did win the 6A east regional tournament the week before state. “I’m going to work harder and harder every day to be better this year. The biggest thing is not going into this year with a big head. Yeah, I got second at state, but anyone can still beat me.”

He acknowledges that the loss to Aguilar still stings.

“Honestly, I look at that video every single day and look at what I could have done to change the outcome,” Wiseley admits. “One little move messed up my whole match.”

“He’s competitive, so it’s driven him to want to win it this year,” Patterson says of Wiseley’s state final defeat. “I guess you could say he’s a little bit more motivated. He wants to win a state title his senior year.”

As he strives for that, Wiseley continues to weigh his options about next year. He will likely wait until after the wrestling season (the state tournament is in February 2020) to choose between going to college to wrestle or joining the professional racing circuit.

“I’ve got offers both ways, so I’m just waiting to see what else I get offered,” Wiseley says. “I would love to wrestle in college. But right now, racing’s fallen in my lap and calling my name.”