Luther College Chips

Kreiter is national runner-up wrestler

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Justin Kreiter (‘17) takes down an opponent at nationals.

Justin Kreiter (‘17) takes down an opponent at nationals.

Photo courtesy of Luther.edu

Photo courtesy of Luther.edu

Justin Kreiter (‘17) takes down an opponent at nationals.

Shasa Sartin, Staff Writer

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Norse wrestler Justin Kreiter (‘17) finished second in his weight class at the NCAA Division III National Meet on March 10-11. 

Kreiter didn’t make the national meet in 2015, and placed fourth at the national meet in 2016. Returning in 2017 to earn a second place finish was satisfying for him.

“I was happy with the way it went,” Kreiter said.

Teammate Billy Poray (‘18) feels inspired by Kreiter’s journey to the national meet.

“The two weeks before regionals and the two weeks before nationals, I was actually his training partner,” Poray said. “He was always focused and his work ethic was just eye-opening to me. It’s something that I’m going to take into my season next year.”

Kreiter’s work ethic is strong, according to his teammates, as his strong performance in Luther College wrestling has shown. He has been wrestling since he was five years old.

“It’s been a part of my life forever,” Kreiter said. “[I] started [wrestling when I was] young, and fell in love with it ever since. I mean, it’s a tough sport, but when you compete and you have success it makes you want to keep coming back.”

Prior to Luther, Kreiter wrestled for North Scott High School in his hometown of Eldridge, IA. His father Eugene Kreiter (‘89), a former Norse wrestler, was his coach.

Wrestling has been a lifetime commitment for Kreiter. Consequently, it is a part of his life in the off-season as well.

“All year-round you’re focused on getting better for the next season,” Kreiter said. “So it’s a year-round sport pretty much.”

The Norse wrestlers are in the practice rooms two to three times a week and are in the weight room four to five times a week outside of wrestling season.

“In the off-season, it’s just about maintaining your conditioning and staying in shape so that when winter season comes around you’re not playing catch-up,” Kreiter said.

Poray finds summer training to be especially important in preparation for the winter season and the way the team comes together to facilitate that training. A large group of athletes stay in Decorah each summer and work either on campus or somewhere in Decorah. This way, they have a group to train with over the summer. This exemplifies the familial culture of the Luther College wrestling team, according to Poray.

“We have one of the best climates that you could see, it’s such a family,” Poray said. “Wrestling is a different sport because you’ll go into the practice room and you’ll literally battle for two hours and then afterwards we’re best friends.”

Kreiter, one of the program’s top wrestlers, and eight other senior wrestlers will graduate this May which means that the team will look different next year.

Poray will be returning for the 2017-18 season as a senior and is very optimistic about his teammates’ potential, despite the changes in the team.

“We have a history of success with Luther wrestling, so it’s just about new people stepping up,” Poray said. “Being in a program that’s always successful makes you want to be better every day.”

Despite losing three national qualifiers with the 2017 graduating class, Poray is assured that the returners and incoming first-year students will only continue to push the program forward.

“Losing our three best wrestlers, we need to make sure that we continue our program’s success, so it’s up to us to step up next year,” Poray said. “Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we can’t be great.”

Kreiter will begin a physical therapy graduate level program in the fall with his Exercise Physiology major from Luther.

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