Burleson siblings Caleb and Aubrey Yauger have a close relationship, the kind of bond one might expect from any brother and sister who are both close in age and active in sports.
Caleb, 18, plays soccer and football. Aubrey, 17, wrestles.
But the only time they see each other is at home. They attend rival high schools.
The summer prior to starting high school, ninth-grade Aubrey had a decision to make. The Elks didn’t have a wrestling program, so she could either be with her brother at Burleson or she could transfer to Centennial to compete in the sport she took up when she was 12.
Aubrey picked the latter and is now a three-time UIL state qualifier.
“Of course I was sad that my brother and I weren’t going to the same school because we look out for each other,” she said. “I was doubting going to Centennial a little bit because I felt like I wouldn’t fit in or I’d be scared I didn’t have any friends.”
The younger Yauger, a junior, will wrestle in the UIL state tournament starting at 11:30 a.m. on Friday at the Berry Center in Cypress. She will face the winner of the Zoe Fowler (Corpus Christi King) and Amy Delgado (El Paso Jefferson) match in the quarterfinals of the 128-pound weight class.
“Aubrey is really strong and really fast,” said Centennial coach Casey Hudson. “She’s extremely motivated and works out all the time. She’s mentally strong. She wrestles fast, wrestles strong and wrestles with confidence.”
The Yauger family fought to get Aubrey into Centennial.
Her father, Bryan, had been trying to get wrestling in the Burleson district since his kids were in elementary school. He figured at least one school would have a program by the time they reached high school.
“She loves wrestling so rival or not, we didn’t hesitate to transfer her to Centennial,” he said.
Now Aubrey is one of the top wrestlers in the area. She’s 14-0 this season and won the Class 5A Region 2 championship.
“It feels a little different because this time it’s only Top 3 that go to state not Top 4, but it’s still great that all the girls except two made it,” Aubrey said. “We have more girls competing this year than last year which feels great.”
When Hudson took over three years ago, he had 15 boys and one girl in the program.
Now he has 56 boys and 13 girls.
In 2019, the team didn’t win anything. Last season, before COVID hit, the boys won district and finished second at regional. This season, both the boys and girls won regional titles at Prosper Rock Hill. The Spartans will send six boys and seven girls to state.
“We don’t want to get too excited, but we’ve put ourselves in good position at state,” Hudson said. “We take no days off. Our motto is we don’t count the days, we make the days count. Everyday we improve, we get better. We enjoy the adversity. We have super tough kids that take the challenge head on.
“We have great senior leadership that’s helped as well. Sometimes I sit back and watch them at practice. They work hard and battle constantly. It’s a magic formula.”
The Spartans had four regional champions with Yauger, sophomore Bailey Ford (16-2), senior Brendon McCurry (20-1) and senior Hank Meyer (17-1), who was voted most outstanding wrestler at the Region 2 meet.
“What’s not to say about Bailey Ford? Aubrey might be more technical, but you won’t find a tougher girl than Bailey,” Hudson said. “She relies on instincts and aggression. She’s a fighter. They’re both exciting to coach.”
Five other Spartans finished second at the regional meet: senior Wesley Goleman (20-4), senior Joshua Meador (23-2), senior Josh Yorek (24-2), senior Kenna Fabela (19-3) and freshman Brijatte Garcia (19-4).
Caleb is set to graduate in May. He will continue his soccer career at Schreiner University.
Despite wearing different colors, the Yauger kids love to make the other better on their turf. Aubrey has helped Caleb on the soccer field, shagging balls and trying to stop his shots.
Caleb is Aubrey’s personal wrestling dummy on the mat.
“When we were younger if we had an argument we would just wrestle it out. I feel like when I help my brother that I’m apart of his success,” Aubrey said.
“We are very close. We support each other in everything we do,” added Caleb, a first-team all-district kicker who scored 35 goals during the soccer season. “We are always looking out for each other and making sure both of us are giving 100% effort in everything we do.”