At 15, Janesville Craig’s Filter doesn’t act like a freshman

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012
— Justin Filter is not a typical freshman.

Like any 15-year-old, Filter is full of aspirations. He’s counting the days until he pockets his temporary driver’s license, and he thinks about playing football, his favorite sport, non-stop.

What is uncommon is Filter’s sense of responsibility.

Mark Mullen, Janesville Craig High School’s wrestling coach, thinks so much of Filter that he placed the first-year wrestler in the starting lineup at the Big Eight Conference meet last Saturday.

“He’s mature for 15,” Mullen said. “Some kids think highly of themselves, but Justin does what needs to get done.’’

Mullen said another quality helped him tap Filter for the 138-pound slot in the Big Eight meet.

“He came from being a pretty green wrestler, but his toughness has helped him,” Mullen said.

Filter lost both of his matcheslast Saturday, but he said was not disappointed.

“I think I have a lot to learn, but I think I showed I can compete on the varsity level,” said Filter, who went 8-7 in junior varsity matches at 145. “I didn’t lose big. I didn’t get pinned, and that was a goal for me.’’

Mullen said Filter held on to his confidence.

“I told Justin if he sticks

with it, he could be a conference champion, but he told me, ‘I’m going to be state champ in a couple of years,’’’ Mullen said. “I’m impressed by how he wants to succeed.’’

Filter was the starting quarterback on Craig’s freshman heavyweight football team, and he plans to play baseball this spring.

Competing in sports is the perfect release for Filter while his father, Aaron, a career soldier, is deployed in Kosovo. A major in the National Guard, Filter’s father is attached to the 157th Division out of Milwaukee, which was deployed to Kosovo last September. Justin’s father spent 12 months in Afghanistan beginning in 2008.

“Whenever I do sports, I get into a zone, like trying to pin a guy,” Justin said. “It sort of takes my mind off my dad.’’

Last December, Justin’s mother, Kristi, emailed her husband a one-minute camera phone video of Justin wrestling.

“He thought it was pretty cool,” Justin said. “I actually pinned the kid.’’

Sports are big in the Filter home. Both his brother, Jared, an eighth-grader at Edison Middle School, and his sister, Jessica, a sixth- grader at Edison, are involved in sports.

“It’s good for them to have a schedule and have things to do,” said Kristi. “It keeps us busy and not dwelling on their father.’’

Each Sunday, their dad calls, and the conversation turns to sports.

“Absolutely, that’s how it goes,” Kristi said of their children’s phone conversations with their father. “The calls help keep (their father) close.’’

Filter’s parents were 1988 Craig graduates. Filter’s father played football and was a swimmer and diver.

“My dad was a lineman, and he always gives me crap for scoring touchdowns,” Justin said. “My uncle Paul played in the offensive line, and they say make sure you thank your linemen.’’

Justin misses his father, but he understands his father’s commitment.

“You know it’s something he has got to do, and you accept it,” Filter said.

Last updated: 7:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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