COLUMBUS - There's an easy way to reach it. And a hard way.
The easy way to reach the state podium is to win. And keep winning.
The hard way is to lose early, then keep winning with your back against the wall. That's what four area wrestlers did Friday at the state wrestling championships.
Calvert's Daniel Kwiat (195), Carey's Cory Larick (145), Lakota's Ben Timmons (126) and Seneca East's Nick Hughes (160) all took the hard way, but all are getting there. And all won't finish any lower than sixth.
"I just wanted to make it to state," Hughes said. "Now I'm going be at worst the No. 6 kid in the state, which is pretty nice. It means a lot."
The podium is where every wrestler wants to end up. It takes two wins to clinch a spot, and when it happens, the wrestlers say it's a great feeling.
"It feels great to know I'm going to be on the podium," Kwiat said. "To go down in the records of Calvert, it feels good to advance."
Others, like Larick, said he was "relieved," while Fostoria's Tony Reynolds simply said "It feels good."
After posting a 16-13 victory over Tyler Beck of Northmor, Kwiat was happy not only with placing, but carrying on a family tradition. Two of his brothers, Kyle and Dillon, made the podium in recent years.
"Feels great. I know I'm not going to go home and get razzed by them or anything," Kwiat said. "I know that I'll be able to carry it on and come back next year and maybe do better."
The match was a back-and-forth affair, but provided Calvert coach Keven Rinaman with his first state placer.
"We scouted the match earlier watched him wrestle against (North Baltimore's) Dalton Ishmael. So we kind of knew what to expect, but I hate those roly-poly matches. They always are about ready to give me a heart attack," Rinaman said. "Daniel is now my first-ever state placer as a head coach. I'm really happy for him and very, very proud of him and can't wait to see how high on the podium he ends up."
Turns out he's up there pretty high, and has a chance to get even higher.
Kwiat picked up another victory in the evening by blanking Joey Dismuke of Johnstown-Monroe, 5-0.
Hughes clinched a spot on the podium with a decision win over Trent Thompson of Richwood North Union. It filled a mission he's been on since the start of the season.
"That was my main goal this season to hit the podium," he said. "Now I'm just going to have fun with it and see how far I can get."
Hughes picked up his third-straight victory after his opening round loss by beating Austin Ripke of Archbold, 11-5. It was sweet revenge for Hughes, as Ripke topped him in last week's district final.
"He beat me in the finals at districts. I was hopefully going to get something that no one in my family has gotten before. He wouldn't let me get it. I wanted revenge. It was very gratifying to win."
Hughes joins teammate Damien Showman, who also is still alive in the consolation semifinals.
"They've (been feeding off each other) and have been feeding of some of the guys in the practice room," Seneca East coach Matt Depinet said. "Austin (Schaffer) is down here taking pictures. He wrestles with Damien every day. Those two have been pushing each other since second grade. It's really nice to have them and have both of them down here."
Timmons and Larick are also on three-match winning streaks. For Timmons, scoring a win over Bobby Smith of Columbus Bishop Ready brought his tournament full circle.
"I was just wrestling hard the entire time," Timmons said. "That was the kid that won his district and beat the kid that beat me first round. So for me to come back to beat the kid, that beat the kid that beat me, it's a pretty good accomplishment."
Timmons trailed 2-1 in the third period, before scoring a reversal for the winning points.
"I reverted back to my favorite move since fourth grade, and that's the pull-by," he said. "I tried it like six times and the seventh time it worked."
In the very next match on the same mat, Larick nearly echoed Timmons with a dramatic victory of his own.
To clinch his podium spot, Larick was locked in a scoreless duel with Brett Fortune of West Salem Northwestern. But good fortune fell Larick's way as he was able to get a late escape for a 1-0 win.
"After I saw it was 30 seconds left, I shot a single-leg and just held on until the time ran out. While I was on bottom, I was just waiting a little bit for the time to run out before getting an escape so I wouldn't have to worry about any more takedowns or anything."
Both would come back to post victories in the evening session. Timmons beat Atwater Waterloo's Nick Hermann 12-8, while Larick posted a 4-3 win over Ricky Ratcliff of West Jefferson.
Mohawk's Grant Price was the one area wrestler that didn't move on to today's matches, dropping an 8-4 decision to Kale Rayner of Caldwell. Only a junior, Mohawk coach Buddy Cook said he thinks Price will get one more chance at state.
"I thought he had a chance to place this year. He was one match away from it," Cook said. "He does have one more year, so he'll get back on the mat next year and its obviously going to be a big goal of his."
Wrestling resumes at 10 a.m.