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(Caden Friedt was one of two Decatur Wrestling Club grapplers to win the state mat triple crown, state titles in Folkstyle, Greco-Roman, and Freestyle.)
Most nine-year-old boys worry about video games and when the next trip to McDonald's is slated.
Caden Friedt, the nephew of the late John Friedt, took on more somber thoughts this spring with the passing of his uncle, who had been a dedicated wrestling coach for Bellmont and Decatur for almost four decades.
Caden, the son Mick and Deana Friedt, decided to honor his uncle with a mission. His challenge: to win the Indiana USA wrestling triple crown — that's the Folkstyle, Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling divisions, and all the tourneys were on different weekends.
"Caden hasn't lost since 2007, so he already has so much pressure on him, it puzzled me that he would choose to go for the triple crown," noted Mick, who earned a third place state medal for Bellmont High back in 1985.
He asked Caden, who, for three years has been practicing with the Bellmont Middle School wrestling team, his reasoning. John Friedt and Sean Faurote were the middle school coaches.
"Cause John said that I need to work harder, and I wanted to do this for him helping me," explained Caden, whose favorite diversion is building with legos.
John Friedt touched many lives and a lot has been done to honor him in the months since his sudden passing in February. It's an every day occurrence in Decatur to see a former wrestler wearing a John Friedt wrestling T-shirt. However, Caden's gift, which required him to learn a new style of wrestling in Greco-Roman, had to be earned. Nobody but Caden could make it happen.
"Caden has been a regular with us at the middle school for three years," stated Sean Faurote.
"Every year we have a pre-season camp for middle school and elementary students. We invited some of the best elementary kids to continue working out with us throughout the season. That was always John's push, to get as many kids as early as we could and really work with them, and Caden is way beyond our elementary program.
"It would be normal to have three or four of them come up to a handful of practices in the course of a season. Amazingly, Caden probably has one of the best attendance records of any of my wrestlers in the past two years."
"Mick often checks with me after practice to make sure it's not a burden to have Caden there. I know he doesn't want me sacrificing time with other kids to try to babysit a third grader, but you would never be able to point out the third grader," said Faurote. "Caden does everything we do in practice and my expectations for him are the same as for my middle school wrestlers.
"Sometimes I'll see Caden with a scowl or tears about to well up because he took a pounding by a seventh or eighth grader. He hates losing, but he really holds his own with the older kids."
"John thought I could handle it," noted Caden, who also plays baseball and DFL football. Caden recently turned 10 years old. "I was a little afraid at first, that I'd be too small to wrestle those guys. John knew I could."
"Sometimes I'd get beat on and feel like crying, and John would get on me and tell me to keep going and do better next time," explained Caden.
Sean likes Caden's serious approach. "His work ethic is really the most impressive thing about Caden. I am truly impressed at the dedication it takes for a third grader to make it to practice every day after school from December through March. Even after our practices, Caden is a fixture twice a week at the club practices. If there is something we notice he needs to work on, he'd stay after practice and drill without complaint," stated Faurote.
"John gave everything he had to every kid who ever needed it, but you could see something more special in his relationships with his nephews, going all the way back to Andy and Tommy. He always kept an extra eye out of Caden."
Knowing the triple crown challenge would be very difficult, his parents continued to reassure him that if he changed his mind and did not want to compete, it would be fine.
Caden was sure this was his mission, and something he just had to try do do. Caden offers credit to his coaches: Brent Faurote, Sean Fauorte, Tim Myers, Paul Gunsett, Dave Schirack, and his dad, Mick. He was also helped by his brother, Carter, and Bryce Baumgartner. Bryce, a sixth grader, was also competing for a triple crown
The Folkstyle meet, which uses high school rules, was first. There were 14 wrestlers in his class. He pinned his first two foes in under two minutes. The third opponent took Caden down early. "That third kid he'd never wrestled before. It was most impressive that Caden didn't fold up when the kid took him down," stated Mick.
Caden scored a third period fall to win that crown. Step one done!
Greco-Roman was next. "Dave Schirack and his father (Mick) helped him with that style," noted Bellmont High School coach Brent Faurote. "I'm sure that was the most difficult of the three for him because he hadn't wrestled it before."
Caden had two matches in Greco-Roman. "I was really nervous, and I was wrestling a kid I didn't know," said Caden of the final match. He ran his tourney streak to five straight falls to grab that title.
"It was somewhat of a relief for him to win that Greco title because it was something he hadn't done before. But with one tourney to go, he was more nervous because the end was in sight," stated Mick.
The Friedt wrestling family has a lot of branches. Caden's grandpa, Deane Lehman, was in the coaches corner at state helping. "My father-in-law wrestled for Decatur High School (with A.J. Kalver) and for Gary Giessler," pointed out Mick.
At the Freestyle tourney, there were five in his Class, 95-pound Intermediate. The third and final match was a rematch with his foe from the Folkstyle finals. "I got taken down about the same time in the match as he did it before," noted Caden.
Not to worry. Caden used some of his new-found Greco skills, hitting a headlock and tossing his foe down for the count, finishing his mission with his eighth consecutive fall.
"It felt good. It was a way to honor John. I shook my opponent's hand and jumped into my dad's arms and we cried until we got off the mat," said Caden.
"Then we went to see aunt Mary (Mrs. John Friedt) and said 'I did it.!'"
Of course, a long hug ensued as Mary shared Caden's special time.
"Caden put a tremendous amount of pressure on himself, but I'm not surprised at all that he accomplished his goal. He has natural talent and is extremely strong for his size. But he works for his wins and I'm sure he outworked every kid that he faced," stated Sean Faurote.
"Caden worked hard to accomplish his task," said Brent Faurote, who was especially affected by the loss of his long time mentor, friend and fellow coach.
"Uncle John would have been very proud of him."