'Everything I do is for her and through her,' Davies' Frie wrestling for his guardian angel

Frie lost his mother, Heidi, to cancer in 2017 when he still just in middle school.

frie picture.jpg
Davies senior wrestler Sawyer Frie looks at a picture of his late mother, Heidi, hanging up in the Eagles wrestling office before practice.
Zach Staton/WDAY Sports

FARGO — State tournament week brings out the intensity in wrestling rooms.

Davies is no different, gearing up for three days in the Fargodome after taking third place in the EDC tournament.

For 138 pound senior Sawyer Frie, walking on to a mat at state was something he dreamed of growing up.

"I've been wrestling since first grade, and I love the competition," he said. "That's why I continued through high school, it gets more fun as you get through high school."

It's not his first state tournament, he placed eighth last season in 138 pounds.


This year, however, is his last chance to wrestle in the Fargodome for a state crown.

And every time he walks onto a mat, he knows his biggest fan is watching.

"I think about her all the time," he said.

Sawyer remembers his mom, Heidi, as a person with a heart of service.

"She was a great person, a great person to be around," he said.

When he started wrestling, she wouldn't miss a match.

"She loved the sport. She took me to all my tournaments, along with my dad," Sawyer remembered.

Heidi, however, was in a battle of her own. While Sawyer was still in elementary school, Heidi was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.


"It's hard to understand," he said. "We didn't know if she had two weeks left to live or if she was going to be cured in two weeks."

Her fight with cancer stretched five years, and not once did Sawyer ever see her feeling down or like her battle was ending.

"She started chemo and it got better," he said. "Then it came back a few years later and her body wasn't fully recovered, so it hit her pretty hard."

After his wrestling season ended in early 2017, Heidi's case started taking a turn for the worst. Sawyer knew his time with his mom was coming to an end.

"It was really sad," he said. "Spent a lot of time with her."

On April 6, 2017, after fighting cancer for half a decade, Heidi died at the age of 45.

"I don't know now how I dealt with it back then," Sawyer said. "Everyone loved her. You think you're over the hump and then it comes back and it hits even harder."

When she passed, Sawyer knew that she'd still be with him on the mat. He used the grit she showed as motivation to keep going in the midst of life-altering heartbreak.


"Her strength and courage was inspiring."

As he prepares for his final state wrestling tournament, Sawyer can't help but think what his mom would say to him if she were still alive.

"No matter if I win or lose, she'd congratulate me and tell me I did a good job," he said.

In Davies wrestling office, a picture of Heidi hangs on the wall with a quote right underneath that reads, "It's not the years in your life, but the life in your years."

It symbolized the fight Heidi showed while facing her greatest battle. And it's her example that makes Sawyer take that quote to heart, on and off the mat.

"I do everything for her and through her," he said.

Zach Staton joined WDAY as a sports reporter in 2018. He grew up in Salem, Virginia loving any sport he could play or watch. Staton graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in Communication Studies before getting his Master's in Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a Sports Communication Emphasis from Syracuse University.
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