Centennial wrestling opened its season Thursday night with a 72-9 victory over visiting Glenelg Country School.
The Eagles’ Jason Kraisser (152 pounds) and Nicholas Lee (285) both won by fall, while the Dragons’ Rey Robinson (160) and Vinny Tomarchio (220) were their only winners. Centennial won the other nine matches via forfeit.
“Obviously disappointed for the guys that we only got four matches because they’ve been practicing since the middle of November, but the guys that did wrestle did well,” said Centennial coach Cliff Kraisser. “Two of our guys that had matches [Lee and David Kim, 160], it was their very first matches ever.”
For Glenelg Country, the match signified an early season test with a new coach building the program from the ground up.
“[Former coach] Doug [Jesse] obviously did a great job getting Rey and Vinny where they’re at — Vinny is a returning state placer and Rey wrestles tough — but it’s just a numbers game,” coach Brandon Ballard said. “I told the kids today when we came out, remember this next year. We’ve only got four kids this year, so remember where we came from. We’re going to grow and we’re going to be OK and I’ve got faith in my group.”
Ballard said recruiting athletes to come wrestle has been more difficult than expected, especially at a school without a football team. But he said he is learning how to make the sport appealing and said he could take notes from Kraisser, who for the first time in several years has a full varsity lineup of his own.
“As of right now, a lot of kids have never seen a wrestling match, they don’t understand it,” he said. “To be honest, take some advice from Cliff and invest in some of these two-piece [uniforms]. That’s something I think might be hurting us.”
With a full lineup, the Eagles expect to compete for one of the top spots in the county. Two-time county, regional and state champion Jason Kraisser leads a squad that features a number of returners, like county finalist Jacob Blyukher (138) and 2016 county champion Lucas Shapiro (195).
“I’m excited for my team this year. We’ve got a lot more kids on the team this year than we have in many years,” said Jason Kraisser. “We have a full lineup, which is awesome to see. We’ll be able to compete as a team this year and stay in the matches, not forfeiting three or four which completely kicks us out the match. If we can wrestle we can definitely compete with some of the upper-level teams.”
Kraisser, last year’s Howard County Times Wrestler of the Year who is 80-4 in his career with all four defeats coming at the prestigious Mount Mat Madness tournament, is coming off an eventful offseason. He committed to join his older brother Austin at Campbell University in May and then placed eighth in junior freestyle at the junior national championships in Fargo, N.D. in July. He also cracked the national rankings, as he currently ranks No. 10 at 145 pounds by Flowrestling.
Jason Kraisser said his commitment to Campbell and to follow his older brothers — Nathan, a former four-time Howard County Times Wrestler of the Year, became the school’s first All-American at the NCAA Championships in March before graduating — was an easy decision.
“I felt like I had a pretty good summer,” he said. “Going out to Fargo as a first-year junior and placing in freestyle, that meant a lot to me. It was a goal I had set for myself a long time ago and I couldn’t achieve it as a cadet, which was really frustrating. My brothers had done it before and it was my turn.
“Campbell, I love the atmosphere there, I love the people there, I love the coaching there, I love the academics. I love everything about the school and I felt like it was right for me.”
Cliff Kraisser said his goals for Jason are to start preparing for collegiate competition. But first, Jason Kraisser said he wants to win Mount Mat Madness, set for December 29-30 at Mount Saint Joseph High School.
“That’s the tournament I want to compete well at,” he said. “Last year I came up a little bit short and placed third, so this year I’m hoping to bounce back. If I can win it, that would be great, but I’m just trying to do my best every week.”
Centennial (0-0 Howard County, 1-0 overall) — 72, Glenelg Country (0-1 MIAA B, 0-2) — 9
106: Christopher Lee (C) fft. [6-0]
113: Elijah Ruiz (C) fft. [12-0]
120: Kevin Block (C) fft. [18-0]
126: Zaid Narmouq (C) fft. [24-0]
132: Jordan Carton (C) fft. [30-0]
138: Jacob Blyukher (C) fft. [36-0]
145: Tristan Kneas (C) fft. [42-0]
152: Jason Kraisser (C) pinned Micah Gonzales (GCS), 0:52 [48-0]
160: Rey Robinson (GCS) pinned David Kim (C), 0:44 [48-6]
170: Wadeed Morcos (C) fft. [54-6]
182: Matthew Ritchie (C) fft. [60-6]
195: Lucas Shapiro (C) fft. [66-6]
220: Vinny Tomarchio (GCS) dec. Parker Subasic (C), 4-2 [66-9]
285: Nicholas Lee (C) pinned Jylah Blah (GCS), 4:28 [72-9]