Harvard lineman Dakota Trebes tried his best at summer weightlifting sessions to beat one particular teammate to the weightroom.
Trebes would get off work at 1:45 p.m. and hustle to school for lifting at 2:30. And every time, junior running back Christian Kramer already was there, ready to work.
“I’d try to beat him, but he was always the first one there,” said Trebes, who starts at right guard and at defensive end. “It’s all his hard work and the dedication he puts into it that makes him so good.”
Kramer (5-foot-9, 145 pounds) is not big, but he plays huge. He carried the ball 32 times for 207 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s 20-14 victory over Oregon that lifted the Hornets to 2-0.
Harvard coach Tim Haak said Kramer’s 3-yard touchdown run, where he just plowed through the left side Friday, exemplified what he is about.
“He just has a tough-minded approach to what he does,” Haak said. “On that touchdown, he was just going to get in. He’s one of those young kids who is so much improved. He’s so much better this year, so much stronger. Starting as a sophomore has those benefits.”
Kramer rushed for 970 yards as a sophomore, and after two weeks leads area rushers with 298 yards.
“It’s just the mindset,” Kramer said. “You just have to give your all.”
Kramer benefits from being the third of three brothers. Coty, five years older, now runs for Illinois State’s track team. Tyler, three years older, also played football for Harvard; Tyler also wrestled.
The Hornets felt highly enough of Kramer that they voted him one of the five captains as a junior. The other four regular captains – Trebes, Justin Nolen, Adam Freimund and Tate Miller – are seniors.
“It’s really special because that (being a captain) is a huge goal,” Kramer said.
Kramer’s teammates figured, senior or not, he was a natural choice for captain.
“He is a leader to all of us,” Trebes said. “He’s real blue-collar and gets everything done. It’s very nice to have a captain as a junior.”
Kramer wrestled at 138 pounds for Harvard last season and was one of the area’s fastest sprinters. He is not sure which is his best sport. His favorite of the three depends on which season it is. Haak marvels at how Kramer craves getting better.
“He’s one of those tireless workers,” Haak said. “He doesn’t miss anything, he’s been at every football practice, every weightlifting session, every football or wrestling camp. There’s a lot of stuff in the offseason.”
And Kramer usually was the first one there.