Central wrestler keeping in touch despite distance from U.S. to Afghanistan

PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG—Central wrestler Mical Kramer during his match against Fruita’s Matt Remy Thrusday night. Kramer’s dad is serving in Afghanistan.

Even though his father is half a world away, Mical Kramer knows his dad is keeping track of what he does on the wrestling mat.

Mical Kramer got used to having his father, Frank, being an active part of his athletic career.

As a Central High School sophomore last year, Kramer would frequently see his dad on the sidelines.

“Last year he was always around,” Mical said of his father, who was a frequent visitor to Central football and wrestling practices.

Duty called last year and Frank responded, putting his career as a private investigator in Grand Junction on hold to serve his country.

Frank Kramer is currently on the tail end of an eight-month assignment in Afghanistan, doing drug intervention work to help cut down the country’s poppy trade, which helps fund the Taliban.

“He trains the Afghanis against the drug trade,” Mical said.

Frank appreciates his opportunity to make a difference.

“I am extremely grateful to be a part of rebuilding a part of the infrastructure in Afghanistan,” Frank wrote last week in an e-mail conversation with The Daily Sentinel.

He does five-week training courses for police officers at his academy.

“I have the privilege of (training) some of the finest police officers in the country,” he said.

Though he is an independent contractor and not part of the military, Frank works out of a U.S. Army base.

Except for a three-week hiatus in which he spent time with his family last fall, Frank has been in Afghanistan since June.

“This has been an extremely difficult task that I knew I would have to deal with when I started working here,” Frank said in his e-mail.

He did get to catch one of Mical’s football games in October when he was home.

“Sitting in the stands, watching him play was one of the most exciting things I can remember doing,” Frank said.

Having a father in the Middle East, Mical keeps an eye on the nightly news, but he’s learned not to let it consume him.

“I’m not really worried,” he said of his father. “My dad is the toughest dude I know.”

That’s not a son bragging about his father; Frank is a former SWAT police officer.

Technology allows the Kramers to keep in touch, to an extent. They instant-message and communicate via Web cam. Frank talks with his family (his wife, Nancee, Mical and his sister, Emily) about once a week by phone.

Mical is usually more excited to talk to his father after a good week on the mat, and he’s had plenty of those. Heading into this weekend’s Colfax Smackdown, Mical was 12-5 as a 215-pounder, including a third-place finish at last month’s Warrior Classic.

That’s a major improvement from last year, when he failed to qualify for the state tournament at 189 pounds. That served as fodder during the offseason.

“My coaches and (teammates) came into the wrestling room,” Mical said. “It’s helped out a lot.”

He’s also benefitted from the added strength by moving from 189 to 215 pounds.

“I’m just a lot tougher this year,” he said.

“Mical’s got a lot more confidence than he did last year,” Central head coach Laurence Gurule said. “He’s got more experience.”

Time spent in the offseason doing freestyle work, hitting the weight room and going to a couple of camps.

Knowing the sacrifice his father is making gives Mical added incentive.

“I’m really proud of what he’s doing,” Mical said. “He’s really laying down the sacrifice for no more terrorism.”

Frank reads about Mical’s matches online at GJSentinel.com and has been able to watch some video of Mical’s matches.

Slow download speeds in the Middle East have made that difficult, but he’s received some DVDs of matches and the mother of one of Mical’s teammates, Jennifer Holdren, has taken numerous digital photos, which she e-mails to Frank.

The role of ‘wrestling dad’ has been turned over to Gurule and his staff, and Frank credits them with helping Mical’s career as a student-athlete grow.

Mical’s improvement as a wrestler is evident in his No. 8 ranking in this week’s On the Mat Class 5A state ratings.

After the way last season ended, Mical set one primary goal for this season.

“I want to go to state,” he said.

Frank won’t return to the U.S. in time to see his son wrestle in person this season.

“It gives me extra motivation to go out there and try harder,” Mical said, knowing that, even half a world away, his father is still keeping an eye on his accomplishments by any means possible.


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