Qualifying for the state tournament is the goal of all high school wrestlers, but clearing that hurdle is easier said than done.

Qualifying for the state tournament is the goal of all high school wrestlers, but clearing that hurdle is easier said than done.

After qualifying for the Division I district tournament last season, Grove City senior Jordan Shoemaker believes his time to reach state might have arrived.

"This is my last year, and there's a lot more pressure," said the 120-pounder, who has a 23-6 record.

"I want to make it to state and this will be my last time. From my freshman year on, I've been saying that I can do it next year, but I can't say that anymore. I have to keep working hard so I can get there this year."

The competition at district can be difficult. Shoemaker went 1-2 at the Hilliard Darby district last year and hopes hard work makes a difference this season.

But coach Jay DiMasso believes it takes more than hard work to reach state.

"We have to push Jordan in practice and make every practice and every match feel like a district final," DiMasso said. "You have to get used to that kind of pressure, that kind of effort, so when you get there and you go into overtime, you can handle it. We have to make sure our kids are ready when they go to district."

DiMasso said the drive to succeed also must include work outside practice if a wrestler is going to qualify for state.

"We can't do everything you need to do in a two-hour practice," he said. "We can work on conditioning and teach technique. When a kid's really good, he's doing more than two hours a day, four or five days a week like we have in practice. He's putting in time on his own to get better."

Shoemaker has taken that step by staying after practice to condition and improve his technique. He even continues to work out after returning home.

"I work out a lot on my own by staying after practice or wrestling at home," Shoemaker said. "I have some mats in my basement. I go home and wrestle for an hour or two, eat something and go to bed."

Shoemaker won the title at 120 in the Porter Memorial on Jan. 14 at Hilliard Bradley. On Jan. 21, he finished fourth in the 27-team Maumee Bay Classic at Oregon Clay with a 4-2 record. During that event, he defeated Dexter Lee of Bloomdale Elmwood 8-6 in overtime during a consolation match.

DiMasso said Lee was the third-rated wrestler in Division III.

"Jordan has great technique and he knows more about that than most of the guys on the team," DiMasso said. "He has put in a lot of time since middle school. From the time the season ends to the beginning of the next, he's always wrestling ... always working hard."

Shoemaker said takedowns are his specialty, but there is always room for improvement.

"I'm a takedown wrestler. I have a lot (of moves) that I use," he said. "I like the underhands or the outside fireman's (carry). I'm a close-grip kind of guy. But I need to work on (wrestling from) the bottom (position). I think too much down there."

Shoemaker said wrestling feeds his competitive nature.

"I like the toughness of the sport," he said. "I like the challenge. It's hard to slack off in wrestling. If you do, everyone will know it by the way you perform on the mat."

DiMasso said Shoemaker has the tools needed to reach state, but other factors play into advancing there.

"The most important things are technique and desire, but you also have to make sure you are feeling good at that weight and staying healthy," he said. "Staying healthy - whether from injury or illness - is important this time of year."