When Kyle Cauble transferred from Robinson High to A.L. Brown prior to the 2011-12 school year, he was excited to become a part of Kannapolis’ storied football tradition.What Cauble didn’t realize was the heat was turning up on the budding rivalry between his old and new wrestling teams.Though several teams are expected to be competitive in the South Piedmont 3A Conference this year, the one team that may be closest to dethroning Robinson as conference champs is A.L. Brown. The Wonders have finished as runners-up to the Bulldogs each of the last two seasons.The teams square off Dec. 18, but for the match to have conference championship implications, Kannapolis will have to get by Hickory Ridge (a matched held Dec. 4) and Concord (Dec. 11) first. Brown is 12-2 in SPC matches during the past two seasons, with both losses coming from Robinson.With nine of 14 starters returning from last year and a freshman class that enjoyed success as middle-schoolers, the Wonders have reason to be confident.“Every year we’re going to graduate some seniors,” said Brian Ceresa, Brown’s head coach. “But what we have with this freshman class is pretty amazing. We have some kids that definitely know how to win. They know how to wrestle and have a lot of heart. I think we have a stronger lineup this year.”For four years, Ceresa served as an assistant at Brown to Jerome Davis. In 2010-11, they led the Wonders to a second place conference finish and their first trip to the state dual team tournament in four years.Last summer, Cauble remembers Davis welcoming him as a newcomer to the Kannapolis wrestling team after he transferred from Robinson. But less than a month into the school year, Davis was hired away by Robinson to fill its coaching vacancy.Brown didn’t miss a beat with Ceresa at the helm. The Wonders were inspired against the Bulldogs, even without Davis’ switch, but Robinson snatched a close (36-29) victory.Aided by one-match victories against Hickory Ridge and Mount Pleasant, Brown finished in second place and advanced to the state dual tournament where it lost in the first round for the second straight year.Cauble, a 220-pounder, is the team’s senior elder statesman. He was one of several Wonder wrestlers who came up just short of advancing to the state individual tournament.“After I transferred here last year,” said Cauble, “I thought that Robinson, being a state championship team, that this team (Kannapolis) wasn’t going to compare. But there’s a lot of intensity here. We work hard, drill hard, and the coaches and captains expect a lot out of the team.”Sophomore Avery Clinding (120 lbs.) was Brown’s only state qualifier last year. Dealing with stress fractures in his lower back, he is still waiting to get doctor’s clearance before he hits the mat this season.Junior Richard White advanced to the state tournament as a freshman but missed out last season. Last season’s disappointment made him even hungrier for a return to the state meet. He will jockey between 120 and 126 lbs., depending on Clinding’s status.“Over the summer, I lifted weights,” said White. “But the biggest difference between last year and this year is that I’m a lot more mature. I have a lot more confidence. I just want to be the best in the state and you have to work hard.”At 113 pounds, Nick Sexton leads a group of freshmen that were part of Kannapolis Middle School’s conference runner-up team last year. They were on a league championship team as seventh-graders.“Nick and some of these other guys, like Marcus Bolick, is going to be really tough this year,” said Ceresa.Next year, the Robinson-Kannapolis rivalry will stay right on track despite classification realignment. Both schools will be competing in the same 4A conference.
Friday, Dec. 07, 2012
For wrestling, it’s still Wonders vs. Bulldogs
Key Robinson grappler transferred to A.L. Brown; Brown coach now at Robinson
A.L. Brown wrestlers Kyle Cauble, left, and Omar Angeles square off at a recent practice. Coach Brian Ceresa is in the background. JOE HABINA
A.L. Brown wrestlers Kyle Cauble, left, and Nico McClure square off at a recent practice. JOE HABINA