PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg resident recently became an Arena Cross Amateur National Champion.
Over the weekend of May 4-6, Caden Florence, 11, of Parkersburg traveled to the Amateur National Arenacross Championships at Southpoint Casino in Las Vegas, where he won two National Championships, a first for the local rider.
He won in the 65cc and 85cc 7-11-year-old classes, based on the bikes he rode.
Caden Florence, 11, of Parkersburg won two National Championships at the Amateur National Arenacross Championships at Southpoint Casino in Las Vegas.
"It takes a lot of dedication and practice," Caden said. "It is awesome."
The 11-year-old, sixth-grader at Hamilton Middle School has been racing motorcycles since he was 4 and has continually been winning motocross and arena-cross races around the country, including West Virginia, Ohio and Missouri.
Caden has raced in around 70 races a year; he, his family and supporters are going somewhere about every weekend.
He had to participate in qualifying races to reach the championships.
"They took the top 30 in the nation and put them in this race of champions and Caden came out on top," said Britton Wasmer, Caden's mechanic and trainer.
Following winning his first race at the championship, Caden said he was even more ready for his next.
"It definitely brought up my confidence," he said.
After winning two national championships, Caden said he is ready to begin training for his next step, which will be outdoor races this summer.
"It feels good and makes me want to ride harder," he said.
Caden will begin training for the Regional Loretta Lynn Motocross this August in Tennessee, which holds races featuring the best amateur riders in the nation on outdoor tracks.
"He has done indoors," Wasmer said. "It is time for the outdoors."
He trains daily with exercise and diet as well as riding on his bike at a course near Williamstown. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he likes to play basketball at the Elite Center in Parkersburg as well as go to school full time.
"I definitely like school," he said. "After school, I go and train."
He learned about the importance of an education from racer Ricky Carmichael, who is someone Caden has looked up to all his life.
Caden wanted to give a special thanks to the people and businesses that have supported him.
His sponsors include Winans Services, FST Images, Utopia Optics, FCR Mods and Suspension, Traxxas, East of Chicago Pizza in Vienna, Gear Head, Crash Addict, K&N Air Filters, Gateway Cycles, Thad Duvall and Pant Saggin Dezign.
Joe Winans, chief financial officer for Winans Services, said he has known Caden and his family for years and is continually impressed with the young man.
"He is a smart, athletic, well-mannered and happy young man who has a fantastic passion for motocross," Winans said. "I have watched him ride motocross since he was about 4 years old and I am truly amazed by his talent to ride motocross. Caden is a special kid."
Winans is impressed with Caden's commitment.
"Caden is dedicated to the sport the hours it takes to practice, the soreness and pain from not always hitting the track correct and the perseverance to continue after his goal," he said. "I am proud of this young man and will be happy to see Caden reach for bigger goals in life."
Since winning two national championships over the weekend, Caden has been getting calls from sponsors nationwide and has been invited to submit material to be considered for a possible reality show on racing.
He wants to continue to work on winning racing championships in outdoor and supercross with the goal of eventually going pro.
Brooke Florence, Caden's mother, said she is continually proud of her son's accomplishments.
"It has been a roller coaster ride around here," she said of the past week. "It is fun. I am extremely proud of him.
"He is truly an all-around great kid. He does basketball, motorcross, does good in school. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Caden's mother said she likes watching her son out on the track. She is aware of the risks, but she knows her son is responsible.
"Caden is safe when he rides," she said. "He knows what he is doing.
"I trust that 100 percent when he is out there."
Caden is continuing to work on his goals of achieving more on the track, working hard and staying focused.
"I am definitely going to continue racing," he said.