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Wrestling At The Next Level - Grappler Brown Bound For Bakersfield
0427 Brown Sign
Some paperwork for Cal State Bakersfield gets some ink from Oakdale senior A.C. Brown, who recently committed to their wrestling program on a generous scholarship. His parents, Jane Brown and Mark ‘Hash’ Brown look on. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

To pose a question you may have heard before, albeit in a different context: What can Brown do for you?

For Oakdale High football coaches, he can anchor a stout defense.

For Oakdale wrestling coaches, he can dominate the upper weights.

For collegiate wrestling coaches … well, that’s yet to be decided.

Oakdale High senior A.C. Brown has signed a letter of intent to continue his grappling career at California State University, Bakersfield.

Most of his college education will be paid for across four years of eligibility in the Division I NCAA program that competes in the PAC-10.

Brown said he hasn’t decided whether he will participate or red-shirt his initial season, but expects to compete in the Pac-10’s 197-pound weight class when he does hit the mat.

Brown was an all-state football player for the Mustangs in the fall, and is a three-time California Interscholastic Federation Wrestling Championships qualifier.

He has twice reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters finals, and claimed an SJS title by throttling eventual state bronze medalist, Malique Micenheimer of McNair this winter.

He certainly had options on what sport and what school would carry his athletic abilities later this year, but ultimately went with a rising Roadrunners wrestling program that has already landed signings of some of the state’s best seniors.

Brown said he expects to join Bryce Hammond (Bakersfield), Nick Cano (St. Francis), Tim Box (Bakersfield), Adam Fierro (Bakersfield), and Ian Nickell (Bakersfield) on the 2011-12 Cal State Bakersfield roster. The five of them sport first, second, third, third and seventh place state medals respectively from the 2011 CIF championships.

“I think it’s a pretty good Division I program with some good coaches and a real nice campus,” Brown said. “I’m pretty excited about wrestling there and I’m looking forward to that whole experience.”

Oakdale wrestling coach, Brian Stevens, said he feels A.C. will fit in perfectly at Bakersfield, and feels Brown has the body structure and talent to do some big things at the Division I level.

“When he gets into a program where he has got some big guys to work out with on a daily basis that are also top quality Division I wrestlers, he will just continue to get better,” Stevens said “It’s real hard to say goodbye to guys like A.C., Trent (Noon) and Shane (Tate), who have been a part of our programs since about fifth or sixth grade.

“But while it is extremely hard to replace guys like them, I am extremely happy for them and I know it’s just part of the process.”

While Oakdale coaches will certainly miss Brown’s talent, A.C.’s father — Mark ‘Hash’ Brown — admits he also will miss all the high school and youth tournaments he has attended (about 500 since A.C. started wrestling).

“I met a lot of really good people at these tournaments that I consider friends who I never would have met otherwise,” Mark Brown said. “I’m glad to see A.C. go on to college, but he will still be wrestling, and that’s a good thing.

“He’s a good kid and he’s polite to everybody, and that’s all you can pretty much ask for.”

Mark Brown also voiced his excitement about A.C.’s career continuing in an area so rich in wrestling tradition. Aside from the perennial dominance of Bakersfield High, the town also boasts the right to host the state wrestling tournament, and isn’t far from a Clovis area that is also deeply entrenched in the wrestling community.

It’s the same area that rallied to raise funds and support the Cal State Bakersfield program when budget cuts put the team in jeopardy of competing in 2011. But big efforts and successful fundraisers quickly arose to guarantee a thriving wrestling program that appears poised to make positive steps in the Pac-10 for many years.

“I thought it was great that the community came together and supported the team to raise money and keep the program going,” A.C. said on Sunday. “It’s a good area for wrestling and I’m happy I will be a part of it.”