By Allison Collins
UNADILLA – Earlier this month, Unadilla 11-year-old Caleb Cole competed in the New York Wrestling Association for Youth state championship, bringing home the top title for the third time in five years.
Caleb, known as “KK,” will advance to the NYWAY national level in late April, representing his Unadilla-based club, the Gorilla Grapplers.
Caleb’s father and Gorilla Grappler founding coach Branden Cole said, though young, Caleb’s prowess comes as no surprise.
“It’s just in our blood,” he said. “I was a former wrestler, my dad wrestled and I have two older sons that wrestle, so we’re embedded in the wrestling community.” He added, “As long as (Caleb) loves to do it, I’m going to give him every opportunity I can to be successful at it.”
Caleb said it “felt awesome” winning states March 11 at SUNY Brockport. Eyeing nationals, he noted, “My plan is to have fun.”
Caleb began wrestling at age 3 and said he typically practices “three or four times” a week, throughout the year. The NYWAY championship series, he said, is one of several in which he competes annually.
Noting that he “wouldn’t mind” wrestling professionally as an adult, Caleb said, for now, the sport fuels a passion while providing release.
He said, “It’s fun to get my energy out.”
Bolstering Caleb’s success behind the scenes, Branden said, is the fun-focused and family-friendly energy inherent to the Gorilla Grapplers club.
Branden, a graduate of Unatego, said he began the club as a way to enable year-round wrestling while fostering healthy habits among area youth.