Bryce Baumgartner, who is not a stranger to national championships, didn't have it as a goal to win the triple crown of Indiana wrestling this past spring.
"Because I do it every year," said the 12-year-old soon to be seventh grader at Bellmont Middle School.
Well, he has done just that — win Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman titles — in each of the past three seasons. He did it this year as a 120-pound Novice.
Bryce was one of two Decatur Wrestling Club grapplers to win the triple crown of wrestling this year. Caden Friedt, a third grader, took the 95-pound intermediate championship at all three levels this spring.
Bryce made it all the way to the Novice 120-pound championship match at the USA Nationals held at the University of Northern Iowa. He lost 4-3 to a Wisconsin grappler. Baumgartner, the son of Angie and Lenny Guerra of Decatur, felt he had wrestled good enough to win. He wasn't happy about losing.
Baumgartner went 51-5 this past season, including all levels of wrestling from middle school action against wrestlers two years older, to tournament wrestling around the state and area.
"Bryce has competed at the national level several times and has done extremely well," stated Bellmont wrestling coach Brent Faurote.
"It's pretty impressive to have both of these guys (triple crown winners) in our youth program."
"There's absolutely no doubt that Bryce hates losing," said Sean Faurote, Bellmont Middle School coach.
"He lost a couple of matches this year to eighth graders and it didn't sit well with him. He finished third at conference at 115 pounds and his only loss was 1-0 to the champion, and Bryce was the aggressor the whole time," explained Faurote.
"He's done more wrestling all over the country at such a young age ... well, I don't think we've had a young wrestler with this much highly-competitive experience. I think it was hard for him to adjust to middle school (wrestling) at first because he wasn't used to wrestling our guys and was more comfortable wrestling with the coaches. His technique was very advanced and very sharp," praised Sean Faurote.
"Eventually, he got more comfortable with the guys and it was a great experience both ways. For a first-year guy, he wasn't shy about speaking up and showing technique when it fit into what we were doing. He, Anthony Busse and Danny Baker spent a lot of time beating up on each other and it really paid off for all three of them.
"One thing that is really special about Bryce is that he loves wrestling. Most of our guys are multi-port athletes and wrestling fits into the mix. For Bryce, wrestling is everything, and it shows," stated Coach Faurote.
"He's just an awesome kid all-around, maybe a little bit stubborn, but he'll give 110 percent at practice," said Lenny Guerra, who decided, along with his wife Angie, to move to Decatur from Wells County so Bryce could get the best instruction possible. Guerra is a former Bellmont wrestler.
Baumgartner currently participates in cross country, track and soccer. It's temporary. "In high school, I'll probably just wrestle," admits Baumgartner, who does have a goal.
"To be on the Olympic team, and maybe wrestle for Ohio State," offered Baumgartner of his eventual expectations.
Baumgartner not only trains in Decatur with the Bellmont coaches — Brent Faurote, Tim Myers, Paul Gunsett and Sean Faurote — but he trains every week in Indianapolis at the Central Indiana (Wrestling) Academy with Ed Pendowski, the former Portage coach who trains many of the top wrestlers in the Indianapolis area.
Baumgartner has been wrestling for seven years. "I convinced his mom to let him try it, and he liked it," said Guerra.
He last won a national crown in 2009, in the Intermediate 87-pound class.
Baumgartner is well known in his circles. "People know who I am," said Baumgartner.
"Sometimes they'll avoid his weight class when they see him,," said Guerra.
Bryce's strategy is no secret. He has a plan. "I go for the high-crotch. Then I pick 'em up and slam 'em," he states.
It's probably effective.
"Bryce works very hard in practice, an he's a health freak. Everything he's won he's earned," said Guerra.
Baumgartner doesn't cut weight, and Guerra expects him, in two years, to hit high school and wrestle at 145, 152 or 160 for Bellmont.
Bryce's triple crown sweep this year gives the wrestler a total of 12 state wrestling titles. He particularly likes Greco-Roman wrestling. "it's my favorite, because I'm undefeated at it," said Baumgartner.
Besides his "pick 'em up and slam 'em" approach, Bryce has a good feel for the action. "He's good a chess. I think it helps him in wrestling. And he has good balance and awareness," notes Lenny.
Bryce feels that he will again wrestle at 120 pounds next year. He currently weighs 116-pounds.
"The best part about wrestling is that it's fun," said Bryce.
And you get to pick 'em up and slam em.