Centennial wrestler Nathan Kraisser has two state championships and a national ranking, but the junior is still looking for his first Mount Mat Madness title. On Friday, he decided to take a difficult route to get it, weighing in for the 119-pound class instead of the 125-pound class he has wrestled in for most of the season.
Kraisser, ranked No. 15 nationally by Intermat at 125 pounds, chose the lighter class for an opportunity to wrestle Wyoming Seminary's Dom Malone, who is ranked seventh nationally and has beaten him here twice — the first time in the final and last year in the semifinals.
On Friday at Mount Mat Madness VIII, Kraisser, the No. 2 seed at 119, and Malone, No. 1, advanced to Saturday's quarterfinals, but before they can renew their rivalry, both wrestlers must win two more rounds. For Kraisser, who had a first-round bye and then pinned DeMatha's Larry Lopez in 3 minutes, 44 seconds, that means getting past John Carroll's Scott Strappelli, who won with a technical fall and major decision.
"Nathan is a good scrambler," said Strappelli, who has practiced with Kraisser. "I think I'm right there with him, but he's a great wrestler and I have to give it my all."
Kraisser described Strappelli similarly.
"He's a great scrappy wrestler," Kraisser said. "It will be a tough match that will probably go all three periods. All the guys in the quarterfinals are great. It will be intriguing to see how it all plays out. I want to win this title. I haven't won it yet, and it would be a hurtle to get over to come out on top. But once you get kind of near the top, everyone is aware and out to beat you. You have to be at the top of your game every match."
Wyoming Seminary, brought 13 wrestlers to the tournament and saw 10 of them move into the championship round. The team's new coach, Scott Green, was impressively confident about the overall outcome. Wyoming enters Saturday's competition with a 71-63 lead over Caesar Rodney. John Carroll, ranked 10th by The Sun, is in ninth place with 46 points, while No. 2 McDonogh is 12th with 41.
"I think if things go well and we wrestle to our ability, we should win by a comfortable margin," said Green, whose team is going for its third straight Mount Mat Madness title. "We need events like this so our guys can shine. It's a good tournament and gives us a chance to see teams we don't always see on the national schedule."
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