“I feel like I want to carry on the family tradition of tough, good, smart wrestlers that want to win a lot and are hard working,” said Kraisser, who improved to 23-3 this season.
Kraisser said he doesn’t feel the weight of following Nathan, who last March became the first area wrestler to win four Maryland public school titles, on the mat at the Ellicott City school. Kraisser’s father, Cliff, serves as an assistant coach, and the freshman has been watching the Eagles closely for years — first attending the matches of his oldest brother Brian — and counting down the months until he could get his chance.
Just like Nathan, Kraisser began his high school career with an impressive junior league pedigree and high expectations. He finished runner-up at 135 pounds against top competition in the prestigious Tulsa Nationals wrestling tournament last year.
“He wants to do everything Nathan did,” Centennial Coach Dave Roogow said. “He doesn’t feel the pressure. It’s more motivation. He idolizes Nathan and to be filling his shoes is a great thing for him.”
Austin Kraisser’s path to those lofty goals will be tougher than Nathan faced as he’s already bigger than his brother, who has a 24-4 record wrestling at 125 pounds for the Tar Heels.
While Nathan faced mostly other young wrestlers when he won his first state title at 103 pounds in 2009, Kraisser is often matched up with upperclassmen who are stronger and more physically mature, requiring an adjustment from his style in the junior leagues.
On the season’s opening weekend, Kraisser learned that lesson the hard way at the War on the Shore tournament in Salisbury where he won three matches on Friday before dropping three close decisions on Saturday to finish sixth.
Since then, Kraisser has recorded 20 straight bonus point victories for the Eagles. He entered last weekend’s tournament as the No. 3 seed and closed out the title by beating top-seeded Liam St. John, a senior from Towson, by technical fall, 16-0.
Off the mat, Kraisser, who also has two younger brothers and two sisters, has already blazed his own path at Centennial. In the fall, he earned a promotion to the varsity football team early in the season and started the second half of the year at linebacker, and he plans to play lacrosse in the spring.