As successful as senior Jordan Kutler’s wrestling career has been, he said it took some time to find himself. When Kutler arrived at Lehigh as a freshman, his coaches wanted him to wrestle at 149 pounds. However, after tearing his meniscus and undergoing surgery, he redshirted.
The following year, he planned to bump up a weight class and wrestle at 157 pounds. Although he posted a 13-1 record, he couldn’t wrestle in the postseason. The challenges he faced made him a better wrestler, but it was a difficult experience, he said.
“That was a really rough year for me,” Kutler said. “It was a lot of cutting weight. It took me away from my relationships. It took me away from my school work and my wrestling. It’s hard to get better when you’re constantly focused on just trying to lose weight.”
After a period of self-reflection, Kutler chose to bump up two weight classes to wrestle at 174 pounds, where he went on to become a two-time All-American and a two-time EIWA Champion. He will be looking to reach the top of the podium again in the next few weeks.
Kutler is the No. 3 wrestler in his weight class and has been ranked in the top five for the last three years. But, to him, wrestling has never been about the rankings. It’s about what he does in the postseason.
“It really matters in March,” Kutler said. “I’ve been able to get on the podium twice — the two times I’ve been there — but my ultimate goal is to be a national champion and stand on top of that podium.”
Senior Ryan Pomrinca and his teammates understand how much wrestling means to Kutler.
Aside from Kutler’s high placements in NCAA competition, Pomrinca said he knows Kutler’s only goal is the top of the podium. He said Kutler gives his all into achieving that goal.
“He works to be there — that’s what he does,” Pomrinca said. “That’s how he lives his life, with what he eats and how he sleeps.”
Throughout his time at Lehigh, Kutler said he has learned a lot about himself and what he needs to do to be successful.
Doing what’s best for himself and figuring out how to put himself in the best position to succeed has been difficult, Kutler said, but the journey has been worthwhile.
“Once I figured out (how) to put myself first a little bit, that’s when a lot of success started happening,” Kutler said. “And, when you’re succeeding and having fun, what’s not to like?”
Pomrinca said he followed Kutler’s career from a young age. He said though they are friends, he looks up to Kutler as a mentor.
Seeing Kutler in a leadership role has inspired him to become a better athlete as well, Pomrinca said.
“I take a lot of the things I do and base them off of the things he does,” Pomrinca said. “He has become a lot more mature and does everything right. It’s really cool to see that evolution from freshman year to now (his) graduate year.”
Kutler said he works hard when he wrestles, but he also gives his all in his academics.
Kutler has a job lined up when he graduates in May with a master’s in technical entrepreneurship.
“He’s an extremely hard worker,” said head coach Pat Santoro. “Everything he does in life — academically, socially, athletically — everything he does, he’s all in no matter what it is.”
Kutler and his teammates hope to make it three EIWA Championships in a row when the competition takes place March 6-7 at Stabler Arena.