A standout on the mat

The Baltimore Sun

Nathan Kraisser is a freshman at Centennial High School who has already become a standout in the Eagles' wrestling program.

According to Wrestling 411.com, he is the No. 9-ranked wrestler in the country at the 103-pound weight class and is ranked No. 1 in his weight class by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.

"His work ethic sets him apart," said Centennial coach Dave Roogow. "I've never seen a kid at this age work as hard as he does. Last weekend, he went through a two-day tournament Friday and Saturday in which he made it all the way to the finals, and I'm almost positive he wrestled at a local club on Sunday. The kid wrestles year round."

Kraisser, 15, is 13-1 this season and is also dedicated in the classroom, where in the first quarter of his freshman year he had a 3.71 grade-point average.

How did you get started in wrestling?

My dad wrestled. He went here, to Centennial, and he was a state champion in his 119-weight class and then wrestled in college at Virginia Tech. I'd mess around with him in the house when I was young. ... I have an older brother, Brian, who is a junior here and wrestles real well. He started a year before I did. I'd go to practice and watch him, and I got really interested and wanted to get into wrestling.

Do you mind kind of traveling in your brother's footsteps?

I am kind of traveling in footsteps, but I don't mind it. It's kind of a pathway for me to follow. ... But he wrestles at 145, so we don't really wrestle against each other. But he shows me moves, and if I do something wrong he'll tell me in a nice way and help me get it right.

And you have younger brothers who wrestle too?

I have three younger brothers and two younger sisters. Brian, my older brother, is 17, Brandi is 13, Austin is 11, Jason is 9, Holli is 6 and Calvin is 3. Austin wrestles in the Cary Kolat program, and Jason is in the Howard County Vipers, and Calvin is too young, but we wrestle around with him and roll around with him on the mat. It's how we all started. Brian and I wrestled with Dad and each other; now our younger siblings wrestle with us.

You just seem to love the sport, why is that?

I've kind of like grown to love it. It's in my nature. It's kind of like real life. You're on your own at a wrestling match. You can't blame it [the result] on anybody else. It's just you and your opponent out there. It's all you. If you lose there is no one else to blame and if you win, all your hard work has paid off.

At the Mount Mat Madness tournament last weekend where you made it to the finals, I looked at the faces of the kids who were wrestling and nobody looked happy. ... Is it a happy sport? Is there joy involved?

Yeah, it's fun. It's fun when you know you made a really good move, and it's really fun when you win and get your hand raised as the victor. But before a match and during a match it's like determination. You really want to win. You're really focused. You don't want to be distracted by anything.

It looked hard.

It takes a lot of hard work and training. Not just going through the motions at practice. Working hard. And doing stuff outside of practice.

But sitting here, you have such a nice easy smile. I think you probably have a nice sense of humor. Does that have a place in wrestling?

I like to laugh a lot. I like jokes, but I'm not good at making other people laugh. I'm not all that good at telling jokes. I'm usually the guy laughing. But we do have fun.

Besides working out and wrestling with your team, do you wrestle some place else?

Yeah, I wrestle for Cary Kolat in Timonium. He was in the [2000] Olympics. That's who I was training with before I was in high school and I still go there for practices on Wednesdays and Sundays to get more training, unless I have a match, am out of town or sick. I went last Sunday, the day after Mount Mat Madness. I wanted to go, especially because I had lost the final match.

Do you have interests besides wrestling?

I played soccer this year, and I'm planning to try out for football next year. I'm thinking I could be a tailback on offense and maybe a linebacker, but I might be too small. Maybe a safety or cornerback. I used to play lacrosse, but I stopped because I wanted to do some off-season wrestling in the spring when lacrosse season is. I only take one month off from wrestling and that's usually in August.

But I like to play with my friends too - football, video games, pool and pingpong and being outside, kicking a soccer ball or throwing a football around.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad