Avery Krippner’s older brothers used to be able to beat him up.
But that was long before Krippner became a stalwart in Forsyth Central’s resurgent wrestling program.
These days, Krippner is a reigning region champion who spends his time laying waste to his opponents, sporting a 13-1 record, including his 100th career victory last week in a 60-18 win against Gainesville.
“Yeah, they don’t mess with me anymore, though,” Krippner said.
All told, Central is 10-0 this season, highlighted by victories at the season-opening Buford Invitational, the Dane Duals and Wolverine Thanksgiving Duals.
Krippner, along with fellow junior Tyson Upchurch, finished 4-0 at the Wolverine Thanksgiving Duals at West Forsyth, while freshman Preston Ostrowski, junior Zac Redecker and senior Branden Redecker picked up three wins.
“I’d watched Avery from across the mat for the first two years. He’s impressive,” Central wrestling coach Russell Transue said. “Now that I’m here, he’s probably the hardest-working kid I’ve ever had. It’s a rare thing to get that kind of talent with that work ethic.”
Transue was an assistant coach at North Forsyth for nine years before becoming Central’s head coach this season.
Krippner, who finished 48-10 as a sophomore last year, made the jump to 170 pounds this offseason, up from 160 last year.
His original plan was to wrestle at 182, but each time he upped his cardio the weight would fall right off. So, Krippner scrapped that idea and decided he’d stick at 170 where he could focus on cardio.
After all, improving his endurance is paramount for Krippner.
“I wanted to wrestle three periods on my feet, because I couldn’t do that last year,” Krippner said. “Third period comes around and I’m just stalling and waiting for the clock to run out. Usually I’m up by points, but if I wasn’t, it was probably game over. So, my goal was that I wanted to take shots all three periods.”
The thing is, Krippner hasn’t found himself wrestling in too many third-period situations this season.
“He’s great on his feet. He’s taken down everybody,” Transue said. “He gave up a few takedowns in our first tournament in Buford, and I was looking at some stats today, and I don’t think he’s been scored upon offensively since then, other than letting people go for escapes. He’s basically doing everything great right now.”
That’s good news for Krippner, who is looking to become Central’s first state champion since Jason Brown in 1995.
Central had five state placers last season, which is the most in school history.
For Krippner, this year is about continuing that legacy, so he takes it upon himself to set an example for the younger wrestlers.
“I just beat them up, to say it simply,” Krippner said with a laugh. “If someone asks me for help, I’m always there. I’m pretty good with the tactical stuff. If you think your stance is messed up, I’ll take a look at it, because I’ve been wrestling for a long time.”
He’s been wrestling nearly his whole life, really.
When he was in fourth grade, Krippner’s father signed him and his two brothers up for wrestling.
Krippner didn’t immediately love wrestling, and he even quit for a short period of time to pursue basketball before returning to the mat.
“There’s not a rush like going out on the mat,” Krippner said. “I get that in football it’s a physical, it’s a contact sport and everything, but when you step out on the mat, everyone is watching you and you’ve got to clutch up. Nothing beats that rush.”
Krippner holds a 102-33 record since his freshman year. His mark of 48 wins last season is tied for fifth on Central’s all-time list for most single-season wins.
Among him are the names of wrestlers who graduated within the past three years: Miles Bankston, Hunter Kurowski, Sebastian Legarra, Abraham Perez and Keaton Platzke.
“I’m trying real hard to lead this team in the right direction, not that I’m a team captain or anything. I’m making the people in my weight accountable. I don’t go easy on them,” Krippner said. “So, I feel like it makes me accountable for the seniors last year. They made the program better, and I want to make sure we don’t go down from there.”
So long as Krippner is part of Central’s program, Transue doesn’t see that happening.
“His ceiling is top of the podium. He could win state,” Transue said. “That’s definitely where he should be – that’s where his goals should be, that’s where his eyes should be set.”