Eric Friedman, 2012, St. Paul’s School

by Gary Adornato

Eric Friedman was never a wrestler to seek the limelight, during his brilliant high school career at St. Paul’s School, but it found him anyway.

It found him because of his dominance on the mat. In 2012, Friedman completed a rare feat, winning his fourth consecutive Maryland Private Schools state championship. At the time he was only the fourth wrestler to mark the achievement and only the ninth, in either private or public classifications, to be a four time state champion.

Following his brilliant high school career at St. Paul’s, Friedman wrestled for four years at the University of Pennsylvania. His wrestling career took a back seat to his academics, but the support provided by his Penn coaches and teammates helped progress towards his career goals.

Of course, there was also a career record of 190-30, being a four-time place winner at the National Preps, including second in 2009, third in 2011 and fourth in both 2010 and 2012. In addition, Friedman was a four-time MIAA champion (only the fourth 4x MIAA champ at that time) and twice was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the MIAA Tournament.

For all this and more, Friedman has been named VSN’s No. 2 Lower Weight Wrestler of the Decade.

“It is hard to pick out one title that was tougher than the others,” Friedman explained after his fourth MIS crown. “Every year there are tough kids you have to work through, and some of those tough matches you win are bigger than others. You just have to make sure you do just enough to get it done.”

Working through tough matches was taken to an art form during Friedman’s senior year when he competed for most of the year with a partially torn medial collateral knee ligament. Despite the injury, he did not miss a singe match.

According to Neil Adleberg, a former head coach at Mount St. Joseph and the Director of the Mount Mat Madness Tournament, wrestling was a communal experience for Friedman.

“For Eric wrestling was always a complete family affair. He and his brother, Ryan (VSN’s 2014-15 Lower Weight Wrestler of the Year), competed at every level from pre-school through college,” said Adleberg. “The tremendous success he had came not only from his great ability but from support, coaching and participation at every possible opportunity. His mom and dad never missed an event. They chose to join every competition available with total cooperation. Eric was one of Maryland’s most accomplished participants in our Path to Fargo program, which brought the best kids together from throughout the state to train and compete on a national level. He made it to the podium multiple times and then headed off to University of Pennsylvania for his college career.”

At Penn, Friedman struggled to find a balance between the demands of a Division 1 wrestling and the rigorous demands of a pre-med major at an Ivy League School. When he saw that his grades were not up to his standards in his freshman year, he had to refocus his priorities and that took time away from his wrestling.

He remained on the Quakers’ wrestling team all fours seasons, but only appeared in 27 career matches. With the support of his teammates and coaches, Friedman dedicated most of his time to his school work, but remained involved with the team, practicing to help make his teammates better and competing in a limited number of matches.

“At Penn, the wrestling team became a second family,” said Friedman. “It gave me the unique opportunity to train with and learn from elite athletes that helped me not just in wrestling but in my approach to everything else. I will always miss traveling and training with friends at Penn.”

Currently, Friedman is studying medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and plans to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine, a career which wrestling helped make possible.

“The stress and fast pace of a wrestling match has helped prepare me for such a career,” he said. “Without wrestling, I never would’ve gotten to where I am today.”

On his All Decade honor Friedman added, “I am very appreciative of having my hard work in high school recognized.

“Looking back on high school wrestling, my fondest memories involve my teammates. I remember the excitement after Peter Galli and Brad Mutchnick won their first state championships, or Matthew Green’s hilarious announcements during school assemblies.”

No. 3 Upper Weight Wrestler: Mathew Miller, 2011, John Carroll School

No. 3 Lower Weight Wrestler: Cooper Flynn, 2021, McDonogh School