Calvert’s Kwiat has unfinished business in return to Columbus

Carey’s May ready to make second appearance after 6th place finish as a freshman

Calvert’s Connor Kwiat wraps the arms of Bellevue’s Justin Mayes and rides out a tough win at the Tiffin Holiday Classic in December. Both will be competing today at the state meet.

Dreams and goals can collide during the state wrestling meet at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus

The tournament is about unfinished business for Calvert 170-pounder Connor Kwiat. The senior reached last year’s tournament as a 160-pounder, but lost his first two matches.

“I think he’s focused. He’s got a goal in mind and that goal is to be on the podium,” Calvert coach Paul Shoemaker said. “He’s definitely put the work in this year. And coming from the family that he comes from, there’s a lot of wrestlers in that family; he’s got a lot of support there.

“He’s had that focus since last year ended,” he said. “According to his mom, as soon as the state tournament ended last year, he told her his goal was to be on the podium this year.”

He’s done well so far, even while battling a leg injury suffered at the Sandusky Bay Conference Tournament. The injury led to him defaulting a few matches for precautionary reasons, but Shoemaker said Kwiat will be ready to go at state.

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS Carey's Tanner May fights off a shot attempt by Oak Harbor’s Kian Thompson in the fifth place final of the 182-pound weight class at last year’s state meet in Columbus.

“Everything that we’ve done leading up to this point has been precautionary. Obviously, the ultimate goal was to get to Columbus. The league meet and sectional meet were obviously important meets, but when you set your goal to be on the podium at Columbus, that’s what we worked toward and that’s why some of the decisions were made that were made, to make sure we were 100 percent healthy going to Columbus.”

Kwiat (30-6) has done well so far in getting there. Just three of his losses — two at the SBC and one at the sectional — came via defaults

His opening-round foe is Smithville senior Riley Smucker (16-2), the runner-up out of the Garfield Heights district.

Getting ready for that match and what lies beyond is now all about being mentally prepared and tweaking a few little things rather than making major changes to anything, Shoemaker said.

“The visualization, going through your match — ‘this is what I want to do here; if this is the score at the end of the first period, what do I want to have in the second period if it’s my choice?’ Just a lot of visualization and tweaking some technique,” he said.

Seneca East 138-pound junior Teryn DeBold (19-8) takes on fellow junior Nick Burgard of Ashtabula St. John (30-8), the Garfield Heights district champion.

The first-time qualifier enters with confidence in the face of pressure, Seneca East coach Coty Crapo said.

“I’m sure he’s nervous about because it is a big meet, but he’s wrestled the big meets pretty much his whole life so he’s used to the big stage, and he thrives under pressure,” Crapo said.

“And half that pressure he puts on himself. When he qualified for district this year, as soon as he qualified he said ‘I’m going to state.’ He’s was right,” he said. “He definitely has the confidence in himself that he can go out there and do what he has to do each match just to move on to the next round.”

Watching him reach this point has been a pleasure and a bit of a surprise, Crapo said, adding that DeBold has seemed to find his rhythm as the season nears its end.

“Last year he won one match at district. His goal going into the season was to improve on last year, get two wins there and possibly place. As the season’s progressed, he’s really turned it on as of late, winning at the right time,” he said. “It was a bit of a surprise, but at the same time he put in the work and peaked at the right time.”

Lakota coach Rob Timmons said he was not surprised sophomore Trevor Franks reached state.

The 152-pounder lost just one regular-season match in junior high and placed fourth at the junior high state meet before placing at nationals.

He fell one match short of placing at last year’s district, but rebounded this year by going 44-6 and setting the school’s single-season takedown record with 170.

“I was looking for him to make state. I really thought last year he would make it. Yeah, I wanted him to make state. Probably the hardest worker I’ve coached in four years, by far,” Timmons said.

“I think he’s peaking at the right time,” he said. “As a coach you try not to hold them back, but make sure they know everything’s leading up to this.”

He faces Legacy Christian Academy freshman Dillon Walker (7-3), who claimed third at the Troy district.

“Is he excited? Yes. But I don’t think there’s a stage too big for him as a sophomore and I can’t say that about everybody,” Timmons said.

“He’s wrestled in some really big tournaments,” he said. “He goes down to wrestle at Virginia Beach each year and you’ve got to be prepared to go out and wrestle in something like this.”

Tanner May is in his sophomore season at Carey, and is making his second-straight trip to the state tournament.

He has wrestled most of the season at 182, but made the cut for 170 just before sectionals, which is where he will be competing in Columbus.

May enters states with a record of 42-6 and hopes to repeat or do better than his sixth-place finish from a season ago.

Last season May competed at 182 during the state tournament. This year, at 170 pounds, May and Carey coach Ryan Pratt feel confident.

“We felt confident at both 182 and 170,” said Pratt.

Pratt said that May is vert focused this year and expects a podium finish. He also said that May will have to take it one match at a time.

“Get that first one and move on from there,” he said.

May has been tearing up the workout room, according to Pratt. The sophomore has been hitting the weights, running, jumping rope and more to prepare for the state tournament.

“(May) is ready to cause ripples down there,” he said.

Pratt has told May to stay focused.

“One match at a time. The first period is still two minutes,” he said. “It’s the same size mat, but at a bigger arena. I like to keep things basic and not hype it up.”

Mohawk will be represented at the state tournament by senior Daniel Price. He made it down in his sophomore year before suffering an injury last season that caused him to miss not just state, but wrestling altogether.

The 138-pound senior is heading to Columbus with a record of 46-8, with some of his wins coming a 132.

As a junior, Price suffered an injury to one of his vertebrae, forcing a gap in his success, but it didn’t keep him from returning to the mat. He worked on his own all summer, according to Mohawk coach Nate Lofay. Price recovered from the injury while Lofay and the rest of the coaching staff helped him get down to weight.

“He’s the hardest worker I’ve got,” said Lofay.

When preparing for state, Lofay said, “We kind of made this week fun for him.”

Lofay added he invited some guys from Upper Sandusky and Calvert to visit and help Daniel get ready for the tournament. The visits were to “clean things up this week,” Lofay said.

In his first trip, the coach said Price was shell shocked just to be down.

Lofay said that the 138-pounder has grown and knows what to do to get on the podium.

“His goal (this year) is to get on the podium,” Lofay said. “Two years ago it was just to get down there.”

Both Price and Lofay expect a podium finish for Price’s senior year.

“He is too good not to be (on the podium),” Lofay said. “He has earned it. He has gone through a lot in the last couple of years.”