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Centennial's Austin Kraisser out for wrestling dominance again

Centennial Eagles senior wrestler Austin Kraisser (wearing red), with his coach and father, Cliff Kraisser, who explains moves to the team at wrestling practice.
Centennial Eagles senior wrestler Austin Kraisser (wearing red), with his coach and father, Cliff Kraisser, who explains moves to the team at wrestling practice. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

All eyes are usually on Austin Kraisser in the Centennial wrestling room.

Whether he's teaching proper technique on a single-leg takedown or a less-experienced wrestler is just watching him to see how it's done, the senior is in the middle of it.

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"I am a leader by example. If I need to speak up, I'll use my voice and communicate," Kraisser said. "But if people look over and see me working hard and going after my opponent, drilling hard with my partner, they realize, 'Hey, he's going hard, he's not quitting, I can't quit either.' ... I make it my goal to be a leader by example and be the hardest worker in the room and make sure everyone can see that."

It's easy to look at Kraisser as the undisputed leader of the Eagles. Already a two-time state champion and three-time Howard County and 4A-3A East region champion and state finalist, he has staked his claim to being the top wrestler, not only in the area, but in the state.

He carries a 115-8 record into his senior year and is currently ranked sixth in the country at 152 pounds by FloWrestling, the highest rank of any wrestler in Maryland.

While there isn't much left to accomplish in his illustrious career, he does have a few things in mind.

"I just want to make my mark this year. Not to be mean, but I want to destroy my competition," Kraisser said. "I want to pin and tech-fall everyone. I don't want anyone to take me down in a match, and I don't want anybody to take me down in practice. I don't want anyone to hold me down for more than 10-15 seconds on bottom in any match. I just want to break my opponents mentally."

Wrestling at Centennial is a family affair for Kraisser. His father, Cliff, was a state champion for the Eagles in the early 1980s and is in his third season as the school's wrestling coach. His brother, Nathan, is a 2012 Centennial graduate and one of five public school wrestlers to win four Maryland state titles, and his oldest brother, Brian, won two Howard County tournament titles for the Eagles.

But for the first time for Austin, there will be two Kraisser brothers on the same high school team, as younger brother Jason is projected to wrestle at 132 pounds as a freshman. It's something Austin Kraisser says he is really looking forward to.

"It's great. I love him being there with me. I like to look over and see how hard he's working," Kraisser said. "It's family competition. I want to be better than him, but I want him to be as good as I am or Nathan was. I know he wants to be a four-time state champ, and I want him to be a four-time state champ. So I'm going to push him. ... We're in there making each other better."

Even better for Kraisser will be next year, when he heads off to wrestle for Cary Kolat, the former Olympian who coached Austin during junior league, at Campbell in North Carolina. Nathan, a former ACC Freshman of the Year at North Carolina, is a redshirt junior at Campbell after transferring.

Austin Kraisser calls his older brother his best friend and role model. All that made it an easy choice when it came to picking which college one of the top recruits in the country would attend, despite the fact that Campbell has never had an All-American.

"I'm so excited, it's hard to describe. He's like my mentor. He's going to be right there, and we'll be wrestling side by side," he said.

First, though, Kraisser wants to enjoy his senior year and be a normal student. He played for his high school football team, something he didn't do last fall. He hopes to bring another state championship to the Kraisser family and then hand the torch to his younger brother.

"I just want to have fun. I know I'm going to wrestle in college; I know where I'm going to go," he said. "I'm relaxed. I just want to enjoy my last year and dominate everybody."

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