Wrestler Kaden Golder bounces back from season's painful ending

The former Matanzas and Mainland athlete will wrestle and run cross country at Iowa Central Community College.

Matanzas' Kaden Golder wrestles FPC's Sean Smith in a 113-pound match on Jan. 25. Photo by Brent Woronoff
Matanzas' Kaden Golder wrestles FPC's Sean Smith in a 113-pound match on Jan. 25. Photo by Brent Woronoff
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Kaden Golder’s senior wrestling season did not end the way he envisioned.

The Ormond Beach resident transferred from Mainland High School to Matanzas for his senior year to be in a more competitive environment. The move paid off. Golder went 36-5, won the Flagler Rotary tournament and headed into the postseason with just one loss in his 113-pound weight class.

“He was a guy we were looking at putting in the state finals,” Pirates coach T.J. Gillin said. “At Flagler Rotary, he ran into some tough kids and went through them fast. He was steamrolling through 113.”

Golder won district, but he barely missed weight at regional, and his season — and high school career — was suddenly over.

It was a heartbreaker for him. But it gave him motivation to get back on the mat and compete.”
T.J. GILLIN on Kaden Golder missing weight at regional.

Golder had wanted to wrestle and run cross country in college. Now he wasn’t sure.

“It was a heartbreaker for him,” Gillin said of the unexpected ending. “But it gave him motivation to get back on the mat and compete.”

On Friday, July 28, Golder will leave for Iowa Central Community College, where he will wrestle and run cross country. Iowa Central wrestling coach Luke Moffitt told Golder that the team’s 125-pound spot is open and should be his if he can make weight and show commitment.

“After (missing weight at regional), for a couple of weeks I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore,” Golder said. “I just laid in bed. Then I started going to all different practices in the area, going to different tournaments, bumping up to different weight classes.”

Since the season ended, he’s wrestled anywhere and everywhere, Gillin said.

Kaden Golder fights off a takedown at Spartan Nationals in Tampa on May 20. Photo by Rachel Mills

“He’s been wrestling every weekend he can find an event, in state, out of state,” Gillin said. “He hopped on some dual teams; he’s wrestled up to 138 and down to 126. He’s put in a lot of work. He’s one of those guys who wants to go out on his own terms.”

When Golder informed Gillin that he applied and was accepted at Iowa Central, so close to fall semester, Gillin said he and the other Matanzas coaches were surprised.

“He was kind of on the fence about whether he wanted to go away to school this year,” Gillin said.

Golder has a friend, Jamey Bruner of New Smyrna Beach, who is on Iowa Central’s wrestling team. Bruner’s brothers told Golder about the school.

“I was trying to apply everywhere. I thought I wanted to go to The Citadel, but they took a little too long to respond,” Golder said. “The Citadel and Iowa Central both accepted me, but I was certain if I went to The Citadel I would have been a walk-on, and I wouldn’t have a spot.”

At Iowa Central Community College, Golder will also have the opportunity to continue his fledgling cross country career. He has been wrestling for seven or eight years, and he began running cross country at the beginning of his junior year, he said.

“I just love running in the woods, in the environment,” he said. “I’d like to continue that as long as I can. My first year, my PR was in the 19:20s. My PR (last season) was 17:24. I’m not the fastest kid, but I’m going to keep getting better, hopefully.”

Golder said he currently weighs 132 pounds. The 125-pound weight class is the lightest in college wrestling. He knows the spot won’t be handed to him. After seeing his state medal hopes disappear, he plans to make the most of this opportunity.


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