Friederichs state wrestling champ
Wrestling is in the bloodline. Some people are made to grapple; most people cannot handle it. Mason Friederichs is one who was made for it.
In April, Friederichs, a sixth grader from New York Mills, became a state champion at 120 pounds at the Northland Youth Wrestling Association's state tournament in Rochester, Minn., at the Auditorium of the Mayo Civic Center.
In taking the title, Friederichs only gave up one point in three matches. That point was a penalty point for not having an arm in a move. Statistics don't lie. He shut out the competition.
"I just go out there and wrestle," he said. "That's my passion and I plan to stick with it until I can't wrestle any more."
Wrestling is an all-year activity for Friederichs. He just completed Phil Moenkedick's camp at the Perham Area Community Center and has plans for more wrestling over the summer, including Frazee's summer camp and Summer Slam on the beaches of Lake Ripley, in Litchfield, Minn.
Moenkedick's Freestyle Greco camp has been running Tuesdays and Fridays, since April where participants work on fundamentals, including gut wrenches.
Friederichs description of such moves disturbed this writer, who promptly dropped out of wrestling when he was Mason's age.
"They're just gut wrenches to me."
Only someone made to wrestle with a plan on winning would say such a thing.
Friederichs made stops around Minnesota to get to the NYWA state tournament.
He swept both matches in a three-man bracket at districts in Detroit Lakes and came out on top at regions in Bemidji.
Once he got to the state tournament, he made quick work of his opponents there, as well.
He opened with a bye and in the second round versus Travis Tritle, of Blooming Prairie, he controlled the match en route to a 7-0 shutout.
"He rode me for a whole period and couldn't do anything with me."
In the semifinals, Friederichs faced Hunter Beehler from Foley and promptly pinned him in a minute, 49 seconds.
"I thought time was going to run out the last ten seconds."
Advancing to the finals with ease, he met a familiar foe in the likes of Derek Tomberlin.
Friederichs had defeated Tomberlin at regions in Bemidji.
"He went harder than he did in regions and every time I was going for a take down, he'd stalemate."
Once Friederichs got a hold of Tomberlin the match was over.
"I had him cradled up for 40 seconds."
Friederichs won the championship match 5-0 and the cradle is a little something learned through the bloodline.
"I came out and asked if I could wrestle in second grade and my dad showed me a cradle," Friederichs said. "I went to a match in Ottertail Central and not many kids knew what it was. Those kids didn't know what happened. Both my matches were over in 15 seconds."
"He started before he started kindergarten," Mason's father Tom said.
According to Mason, Tom wrestled in Barnesville and Roseau as a kid.
"Mason's been wrestling since he was zero," Mason's mother Shawna said. "We keep telling him not to get cocky."
That could be a full-time job in itself.
Friederichs has stories upon stories of winning wrestling matches and the occasional tale of matches that happen out of the sanctions of organized sport. Sometimes a cousin or two needs to get the business.
It can be difficult to not be cocky when winning comes with ease.
This year, Mason has only lost four matches and two of those were to older opponents in seventh and eighth grade.
But a jump to seventh grade next season might be enough to knock a little of that healthy chip off his shoulder.
"I might just get beat on next year," he said.
Mason will have some Perham wrestlers gunning for him, as well.
Every year since first grade, he has won the Perham tournament.
"Kindergarten I got second," he said. "I learned the basics in first grade and then I just rocked on those kids."
"Whenever we go to church we hear from people in Perham he would look good in black and gold," Shawna said.
Cracking the New York Mills varsity lineup will be an effort. There are four to five upperclassmen at the lighter weights, including state runner-up Shane Novak to get through. Friederichs estimates he'll be near 130 pounds by the time next season rolls around.
He has a year or two to build up to a varsity run.
"If I keep up what I'm doing now I may be around 140."
Until then, Friederichs plans to continue working hard and working out to improve his wrestling technique and stamina, including enjoying a few school activities that are enough to make most kids ill at the thought.
"We had to run the mile today," he said. "That was fun."
Friederichs is the kind of kid who when released a half hour early from practice hits the gym and works out. He likes to run the mile. He's going to take his talents to the gridiron this fall to try football and has been playing baseball in New York Mills, as well.
He represents a bright look to the future of New York Mills varsity athletics.