Wertz is latest Dodger to climb dirt-bike ladder

Submitted photo Jaden Wertz of Fort Dodge, 17, is making a name for himself across Iowa and in nation-wide dirt-bike events.

Jaden Wertz doesn’t mind the idea of being compared to Fort Dodge’s skilled dirt-bike forefathers.

In fact, Wertz considers it a badge of honor.

The Fort Dodge Senior High junior, who just celebrated his 17th birthday, is determined to follow in the footsteps of riders like Chad Pederson, Teddy Maier, Justin Brayton and Gavin Faith. Wertz isn’t there quite yet, but the early trajectory of his career certainly seems to be following a very familiar track.

”Just seeing what they’ve done, working their way up through the amateur ranks and then making a name for themselves professionally — that’s a path I’d like to follow,” Wertz said. ”I love doing this. My dad (Mark) used to race and got me involved at a young age, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. This became my passion.

”(Being a professional rider) has been a goal of mine for a while now. I’m going to keep working hard and paying my dues, like the guys before me from Fort Dodge. Nothing came easy for them; they put in the time and stayed committed (to the sport).”

Wertz qualified for the Loretta Lynn’s National Motocross Race this past fall, while also excelling in a number of competitions across the midwest. He doubled up at the Vurb Classic in Garwin with titles in both the 250 B and Schoolboy 2 class, and earned gold at the Iowa State Motocross Championships in the same events.

Last month, Wertz secured a spot in the National Arenacross finals in Las Vegas by placing first overall in the 250 A/B amateur all-star class in Louisville, Ky. He’ll head to Vegas in May in hopes of qualifying for the Monster Energy Supercross series in October of 2017.

A move to the A Class and a supercross professional license are also on Wertz’s list of future goals.

Wertz spends quite a bit of time communicating with Maier in particular, who lives in Fort Dodge.

”Teddy helps me out a lot, showing me what I’m doing right and what I need to work on,” Wertz said. ”He took me in and trained me, and I ride at his track (in the nearby Coleman district). We text back and forth before big races. He’s been very supportive and really inspired me to keep getting better.”

Wertz also enjoys the travel schedule of his life as a dirt-bike rider, which has already spanned well over a decade of activity.

”It’s great, getting to see the country and even different parts of the world,” Wertz said. ”I’m a pretty social person, so I have a lot of fun going to all of these tracks and meeting new people. That’s definitely an advantage and an exciting part of (the sport).”

Wertz made sure to recognize his parents, Mark and Andrea, and his grandparents for the unwavering support through the years. He added that Mychael Mueller, owner of Community Tap and Pizza, has ”been there for me and supporting me since I was young.”

”Fort Dodge is such a great community to come from if you’re a rider,” Wertz said. ”I’m excited and honored to represent our town. There are a lot of great tracks around here. I hear the ‘is there something in the Fort Dodge water?’ joke all the time, (given what) so many guys have accomplished and the number of (competitors) younger than me who are doing well.

”But there is no secret formula. I just think we all help influence and motivate each other.”