Some kids are born to wrestle.Cael Swensen, Braden Basile and Ethan Basile fit that description.
The sons of Eric Swensen and Sal Basile, coaches for the Spring Hill Wrestling Club and Springstead High School, have been thrust into the wrestling culture.
Eric Swensen was a scholar all-American at Springfield (Mass.) College before becoming one of the most promising young coaches in the country. He first coached in Texas, then South Dakota, before getting the Springstead job in 2003. His wife, Deb, and son, Cael, followed him, supporting him at every event.
As for Sal Basile, his past in the area is well-documented. The assistant coach was a graduate of Springstead in 1993 and placed in the state tournament under former Eagles coach Bob Levija, now the school's athletic director and the man who helped hire Swensen. When Swensen was hired, it was Levija who told the new coach to seek out Basile.
Since that first season, the two families have been inseparable. Eric and Deb Swensen are the godparents of Basile's youngest son, Mason, and Sal and Christine Basile are godparents to the Swensens' youngest son, Logan.
From the time he was only weeks old, Cael Swensen found himself at youth tournaments on the weekends. At only 9 months, he would scurry onto the mat and roll around, showing his father the wrestling maneuvers he was picking up along the way. There was even a photo of him featured on MatShots.com at that age.
Organized competition finally came about two years ago. Cael had already been hanging around practices, admiring the prep wrestlers, but his father finally felt comfortable enough to put him into the budding Spring Hill Wrestling youth program. It didn't take long for the results to follow.
When Basile found himself back on the mat working with the Springstead program, his family was there to support him as well. That support soon manifested itself in a close relationship among Ethan, Braden and Cael. Braden and Cael are both the same age, while Ethan is two years older.
While it may have been easy for the two coaches to push their sons into wrestling, that wasn't necessary. All of the kids were eager to be on the mat competing. Because of that passion, the coaches had to come up with some ground rules.
"Cael is competitive," Eric Swensen said. "I've already had to pull him off to the side a few times and talk to him about not getting too upset out there."
Most important, the families seldom talk shop at home. The Swensens have a mat in their garage and the Basiles have been known to grapple on the carpet. But generally the parents don't push their sons 24 hours a day when it comes to wrestling.
From May to November, the two fathers make a point to involve the kids in baseball and focus their minds elsewhere. They don't want to see their children burn out.
From the outside, the connections to the sport are obvious. Cael was named after former NCAA champion Cael Sanderson. He has the ESPN prep wrestling special called The Streak on TiVo, and according to his father, watches it all the time.
Ethan and Braden have been known to sit down and watch collegiate tournaments on the television.
All the more reason why the parents are careful to hold these young wrestlers back a little bit right now.
"It's really a catch-22," Basile said. "You want them to enjoy it, and success breeds success, but you have to be able to walk the line between being a coach and being a dad."
Success is something that came naturally to these boys. Each of them has won at least one state title already.
Cael is a three-time state champion with titles in both folkstyle and Greco. Braden has captured two titles, winning freestyle championships the past two years. Ethan won his first crown this season in freestyle. Each of the grapplers has runner-up finishes to go with the titles.
In the end, they all hope to become national title competitors and move on to solid collegiate careers. The coaches plan on entering the trio in the USA Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this year - another step that will help prepare them for the future.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want (Cael) to be successful," Swensen said. "But it is about more than that. We have bigger goals."
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School: Chocochatti Elementary, Grade 1
Accomplishments: 2008 and 2009 Florida Amateur Wrestling Association folkstyle state champ, 2008 FAWA Greco state champ, 2009 FAWA freestyle state runner-up, outstanding wrestler of 2008 Cozart Classic, 2008 and 2009 Cozart Classic champ.
School: Explorer K-8, Grade 1
Accomplishments: 2008 and 2009 FAWA freestyle state champ, 2009 FAWA folkstyle state runner-up, 2008 Cozart Classic champ.
School: Explorer K-8, Grade 3
Accomplishments: 2009 FAWA freestyle state champ, 2008 FAWA freestyle state runner-up, 2009 FAWA folkstyle state runner-up, 2009 Cozart Classic champ.