Written by: Matthew Sokol – Campbell blog contributor
If you have heard teammates refer to themselves as a family, they are usually just close friends that wrestle for the same team. For the Campbell wrestling team, Nathan and Austin Kraisser plus Ville and Jere Heino experience the true brotherly connection.
They are more than just four Camels wrestling for the same team who help guide each other on and off the mat – including twin brothers Brandon and Bradley Skinner.
The older brothers, Nathan and Ville, are leaders for the Campbell squad, and have been able to show the ropes to their younger brothers during their careers. As both veterans prepare for Senior Day this Saturday hosting VMI, the time spent wrestling together becomes even more meaningful.
“I try to set an example for my brother,” said older brother Nathan Kraisser, adding, “and lead by example than through words. I am constantly checking in on him (Austin), and inviting him over to my house to hangout.”
Campbell head coach Cary Kolat views the Kraisser’s and the Heino’s as great assets to the team.
“I think it shows a lot for our program when we have brothers willing to follow their brother to a program that means they are enjoying the experience they are getting,” said Kolat.
“Those guys in particular have made huge impacts on our lineup with both sets [of brothers]. We hope that [Austin and Jere] shine further than their brothers did earning more wins and accomplishments; not to take away from Nathan and Ville.”
Both pair of brothers share similar feelings of support for one another. Just like any other sibling rivalry there is competition, but helping each other improve is what sticks out in the relationship as Campbell teammates and brothers.
“We are from a big family, and we have some other brothers. I am a little taller for my weight, and my wrestling tends to be more technical. Austin uses his athleticism more, but since he has been in college, he has become more technical,” Nathan points out.
For younger brother Austin, he has watched his older brother wrestle both as a Tar Heel and as a Fighting Camel when Nathan transferred in 2014, taking an initial redshirt year.
Austin Kraisser has also seen his brother win the Southern Conference Championship, something that is on his personal checklist this season as the tournament approaches.
“I have always gone to his matches and his work inspires me to do as well as I can,” said Austin. “I want to work hard to be just as good as he is or even better. I see Nathan working hard and it makes me want to work hard. It is like a battle back and forth, as we are pushing each other to our limits every day.”
The Kraisser brothers have had the ability to support each other as teammates this season, something that the Heino brothers went through last season during Jere Heino’s first year at Campbell. Both brothers have won their last five matches in their respective classes and are feeding off each others success.
“I have a learned a lot that I have been able to help him (Jere) like where you get car insurance,” noted Ville, adding, “Now that we are older, we aren’t competing against each other since he is so big now. We are supporting each other, and that has been very helpful. We mostly talk about wrestling and it is something we both enjoy.”
Jere Heino has wrestled together with his older brother, Ville, since they were young. Jere earned a spot on So-Con All-Freshman team last season, and finished fourth in the SoCon Championship – striving for even more as his sophomore season concludes next month.
“Ville has been very helpful and good a role model to me,” said Jere Heino. “On the wrestling mat, I think he has been a good inspiration for myself and the rest of the team. I think if Ville wrestles well, it changes my mentality and I do better and I don’t think we would be this close if it wasn’t for wrestling.”
The Heino and Kraisser brothers return to action along with the rest of the Campbell squad on Feb. 18 when they take on VMI for Senior Day at 5:00pm inside Carter Gym, closing out their home career building on the impressive 5-1 start in SoCon action.