The sudden death of a cornerstone of the wrestling program at Bellmont High School was voted as the No. 9 news story of 2011.
John W. Friedt, 56, of Decatur, died unexpectedly on February 17 at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.
Friedt worked as a district technician for the Adams County Soil and Water Conservation District for 36 years and was a member of the Decatur Wrestling Club. He coached wrestling at Bellmont High School and Bellmont Middle School for 36 years.
Just two days after Friedt’s death, Bellmont wrestlers took part in the state championship meet.
Bellmont Wrestling Coach Brent Faurote said his wrestlers handled well the tragic situation of losing their longtime assistant coach.
“We talked about John every day before practice and the kids went out and had good practices. That’s what John would’ve wanted,” Faurote said following the event.
There were reminders of Friedt, who helped hundreds of Bellmont wrestlers over a 36-year period, at Conseco. “Mat Burns” magazine editor Richard Jay had a handmade sign saying “Thanks, John” taped to his computer screen.
Faurote carried Friedt’s wrestling shoes, attached to his information bag, around the arena floor on both days.
“It was tough. There have been a lot of tears,” Faurote said.
A gathering of 300 to 400 people braved foul weather to attend a funeral held in the gymnasium of the Adams County Service Complex for Friedt. Among the attendees were numerous people from Bellmont High School who knew him from his 36 years of work as a BHS wrestling coach.