“After [the first title], you’re a marked man,” Centennial Coach Dave Roogow said. “Everyone wants a piece of you for the first or second year. Then if you keep it up, people might start running away from you.”
Few wrestlers enter high school with the physical and mental maturity to win a title right away, but Kraisser and Farace have been groomed for success since starting out with the Howard County Vipers club team — a program stocked with future champions.
Farace remembers struggling in the early days to match up with Kraisser as well as McDonogh junior Logan Meister and Loyola Blakefield junior David Mohler, who have won Maryland Independent Schools titles.
“Getting my butt whooped every day [stunk], but it made me who I am,” Farace said. “I think you need that every once in a while. The guys that stick it out get a lot better.”
Kraisser moved on to train with former Olympian Cary Kolat after a few years before bursting onto the national scene when he won at Tulsa Nationals — one of the country’s toughest junior league tournaments — as an eighth-grader.
“That’s when I felt like I’d moved up to the next level,” said Kraisser, a North Carolina recruit who is ranked 11th in the nation by www.intermatwrestle.com. “It gave me a good gauge for what I could do.”
As freshmen, Kraisser and Farace wrestled at 103 pounds, and they squared off in the Howard County tournament. Kraisser took the county crown and has won all four of his career meetings with Farace, but those losses didn’t affect Farace’s state title hopes — Farace wrestles in the 2A/1A classification while Kraisser competes in the 4A/3A. Wrestling on adjacent mats in the 2009 finals, they both took the initial step, earning their first state gold medals.
After winning his first state title, Farace was surprised how quickly his family and friends started talking about a possible four-peat, barely allowing time to enjoy the accomplishment.
He acknowledges that those expectations weighed on him early in his career. While he never seriously entertained the idea of giving up the sport, taking the mat became a chore.
Over the past two seasons, Farace said he has changed his focus and rediscovered his passion. The wrestler known for controlling opponents in his signature cross-face cradle move earned his third career title with a 4-0 win over North Hagerstown’s Brendan Colbert last March and sits at 158-5 for his career.