GILBERTVILLE – Cael Frost built a wrestling resume that most high school athletes could only dream about.
His list of accomplishments is extensive and impressive. Four state medals, a No. 1 state ranking and a berth in the state championship match.
He also emerged as a leader on star-studded Don Bosco teams that captured three traditional and three dual meet state championships.
Not bad for a guy who calls wrestling his “third-best sport.”
That may be debatable, but one thing is certain. Frost was one of the best all-around athletes in Iowa while playing an important role on state championship teams in three sports.
An all-state quarterback in football and an all-state shortstop in baseball, Frost compiled a storybook prep career filled with magical moments.
For his impressive achievements, Frost is being honored as the inaugural Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Male Athlete of the Year.
Frost was part of a highly successful senior class that earned nine state championship trophies – six in wrestling, two in football and one in baseball.
The Dons went on a remarkable run during his junior season, capturing state in football, wrestling and baseball.
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Frost grew up in an athletic family. His father, Curt, and mother, Julie, were excellent athletes. Curt Frost is one of the top college wrestling officials in the country and has worked numerous NCAA tournaments.
Cael’s older siblings – his sister, Morgan, and his brother, Trey – were top-level athletes.
“I always looked up to them,” Cael said. “Seeing them succeed inspired me and motivated me.”
Cael has also drawn inspiration from his younger brother, Landon, who underwent brain surgery in 2017.
They played side-by-side this summer on the Don Bosco baseball team with Cael at shortstop and Landon starting at third base as a freshman.
“Landon has always supported me and cheered me on,” Cael said. “What he went through, it gave me extra motivation. Baseball is his passion and it was really special to play next to him. It was a lot of fun.”
Don Bosco wrestling coach Tom Hogan, also the school’s athletic director, witnessed first-hand the path that Frost followed since he first started playing sports.
Hogan’s son, Charlie, was a classmate and teammate of Frost’s in numerous sports.
“Cael is so competitive – he doesn’t want to lose in anything,” Coach Hogan said. “He really developed into a high-level, all-state caliber athlete in three very different sports. What he did at Don Bosco was really impressive. He had a phenomenal high school career.”
Frost reached the state semifinals in wrestling all four years in high school. He placed fifth, fifth and third during his first three trips to Des Moines.
He then made a run at the championship as a senior at 160 pounds. Ranked No. 1, Frost battled Hudson’s Tate Entriken during the season.
They met three times before state, including at sectionals and districts.
Frost and Entriken then squared off one final time at state. The match was deadlocked 6-6 after six grueling, hard-fought minutes before Entriken secured a takedown to prevail in overtime.
“I knew it was going to be a battle,” Frost said. “It was fun to compete against him – we had some great matches. I was proud of how I did and how I represented myself. I had a great run in wrestling and was part of some great teams.”
Even in defeat, Hogan came away impressed with how Frost reacted while showing good sportsmanship despite a crushing defeat.
“That was a heartbreaker for Cael,” Hogan said. “But he still had a great season and a great career. And he really matured as an athlete and a person. He handled that setback in the state finals really well – with dignity and respect for his opponent. I was so proud of him – he handled it like a champion.”
Don Bosco football coach Colby Yoder marveled at the progression Frost made in high school. Yoder also was one of Frost’s coaches in wrestling.
“Cael used to be a really ornery kid when he was younger,” Yoder said with a laugh. “He is a true competitor who has always been extremely talented. He was going to do everything in his power to win. It was impressive how far he came in high school. From his freshman year to his senior year, he really matured and developed as a person.”
Frost was a three-year starter in football for the Dons, leading them to the 2019 state title his junior season.
Don Bosco won state during Frost’s freshman year before he became the team’s starting quarterback as a sophomore.
The Dons were expected to make another run at a championship in 2018 before they were upset in the postseason with key players out with injuries.
Don Bosco roared back with a vengeance the following season, going unbeaten and capturing the 8-player state title. The Dons downed Audubon 35-19 in the 2019 finals at the UNI-Dome.
“We were focused on revenge and focused on playing our game,” Frost said. “We didn’t want to leave any doubt who the best team was. After we won state, it was the best feeling. We were on a mission. It was great to win it in dominating fashion.”
Frost and the Dons looked to repeat in 2020 and were on track to achieve their goal after returning to the UNI-Dome for a semifinal matchup against Fremont Mills.
But Don Bosco suffered a crushing 32-30 setback.
“It was a tough year, dealing with COVID issues and everything,” Frost said. “We kept grinding and just tried to control what we could. We definitely had our chances in the semis. We never quit.”
Frost carried a majority of the offensive load while guiding the high-powered Dons to a 9-1 record in 2020. He rushed for 2,206 yards and 40 touchdowns during his senior season. He also passed for 1,103 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Yoder said when his team took the field on Friday nights, there was one player he didn’t have to worry too much about.
“Cael Frost is a winner, that’s for sure,” Yoder said. “When the bright lights came on, you could definitely count on Cael to perform his best. He would always show up when the stakes were highest.”
Baseball is Frost’s favorite, and arguably his best sport. He broke into the Don Bosco starting lineup as an eighth-grader and never left. He developed into an all-state shortstop who became an outstanding hitter.
In five years as a varsity starter, Frost batted .403, .359, .519, .493 and .457. He finished his prep career with 22 home runs and 164 RBIs. The Dons went an impressive 126-25 during Frost’s stellar baseball career.
Frost led the Dons to three trips to the Class 1A state tournament, including a championship season in 2020. Don Bosco edged Mason City Newman 3-2 to win the state title in baseball.
“Our team kept battling and really came through in the state title game,” he said. “It was a crazy day and Charlie Hogan really delivered with a big hit. It was exciting to win state in baseball after being on teams that had won state in football and wrestling during that same school year.
“It’s really hard to win a state title in baseball. So many things have to go right. You need a lot of pitchers and you need your hitters to step up. And sometimes you need a little luck, too.”
Don Bosco baseball coach Joel Schares said it was easy to see why Frost excelled in the summer. And it had nothing to do with luck.
“Cael was such a pleasure to work with because of how he approached practices,” Schares said. “He wanted to do everything better and do everything right, whether it was a hitting drill or a fielding drill. He was always doing extra hitting and extra work to improve. He loves to compete and he doesn’t want to fail.”
The work ethic Frost brought to practice translated to a high level of success during games.
“Cael plays all-out – he gives you everything he has,” Schares said. “He runs the bases hard and just gives a maximum effort. Everything he did in baseball, he did at a very high level.”
And Frost definitely did that during Don Bosco’s remarkable run to a state title in 2020.
“Cael played a huge role for us – with his bat and his glove,” Schares said. “He helped lead us to a championship. One of the things that really impressed me came after we won the state title. Cael really enjoyed sharing that moment with his teammates – you could see how happy he was for the other guys. Being so selfless, that’s a pretty special quality for a high school athlete.”
Frost’s parents also had a big impact on their son.
“They’ve been awesome,” Cael said. “My dad had a huge impact on me, especially in baseball. I would be nowhere without him. He’s been my hitting coach since I was 4 years old. To have someone so dedicated to helping me is pretty impressive.
“My mom was a good athlete and she understands what it’s like for me when I compete. Having her support is amazing. I know she’s proud of me no matter what. She’s done so much for me. I couldn’t be more fortunate to have the parents I have. They are great.”
Frost will take his baseball talents to Kirkwood, a perennial power in the junior college ranks.
“Kirkwood started recruiting me my junior season,” he said. “Their coaches are great, and I went on a visit and loved it there. They have a great program and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. Hopefully, I can keep improving and go on to the next level after I’m done there.”
Frost, who carried a strong 3.47 grade-point average in high school, has a good idea what he will do once his playing days end.
“I will definitely stay involved with athletics,” he said. “That’s my passion.”
Frost certainly left his mark on the Don Bosco athletic program.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” he said. “What I love about Don Bosco is you always give 110 percent and it carries over to whatever sport you’re playing.
“It’s been a heck of a ride. It’s been fun building so many great memories with all of the teammates and coaches that I’ve had.”