In the sport of wrestling, there's no challenge too great.
The better the opponent, the more desire there is to take them on.
No matter what they're up against, local grapplers have been working hard to build success over the course of the season.
With a loaded schedule the Marietta Tigers continue to enjoy success on the mats while teams like the Warren Warriors and Waterford Wildcats are overcoming empty weight classes to put points on the board.
"We're not even close to peaking yet. We're still working on a lot of things in practice," said Marietta wrestling coach Jeff Walker.
Fresh off a sixth place finish in the Marion Harding tournament against 31 teams, the Tigers travel to Coshocton for a two day tournament that begins on Friday where they'll square off against 20 teams in a round robin match.
Included in those teams are power houses like Minerva, Canton South, Granville, Newark Catholic and Tuscarawas Valley.
Going up against those caliber of teams isn't anything strange for the Tigers, as they've built they're schedule around the best opponents they can find. The goal is the same as it is for any young wrestler - become the best you can be for the end of the season.
"They've got to have some stiff competition because the state tournament is the best of the best," Walker said.
The best of the best could certainly apply to several of the Tiger grapplers, as seniors Justin Hasley, Keifer Johnson and Caleb Brown have a combined record of 46-6 this season.
Hasley and Brown were both champions at the Marion Harding tournament as Brown is 18-3 on the year while Hasley has overcome a minor injury to post a 12-0 mark. Johnson is 16-3 on the season.
"Our upper classmen, the bigger guys, they pulled the work load," Walker said. "They're doing good."
Austin Gaskins has also posted an 8-5 record for Marietta while Will Cogswell is 12-7.
The upper classman are providing the bulk of the production for the Tigers, with good reason.
Hasley is now ranked eighth in the state while Brown is ranked 12th. Johnson is predicted to finish fourth in the district, meaning if everything plays out as predicted all three would advance to the state tournament.
"Somebody else in the state is looking at our results, saying we've got to keep an eye on Marietta," Walker said.
With a largely young team, the Tigers are counting on their experienced veterans to continue to carry the load.
The challenge becomes avoiding the flu season and the wounds that can come with a physical sport.
"That's the only thing we worry about right now, is injuries," Walker said.
One team that's been bit by the injury bug early in the season is the Warriors.
Injuries to Brandon Pahl and Dustin Harlow have had the Warriors forfeiting six weight classes at times during the season.
Giving up 36 points by the forfeit doesn't lead to positive results in terms of team scoring, but Warren wrestling coach Neil Brague isn't overly concerned about that. Instead, it's how well do the guys on the mats grapple.
"As long as they're getting the matches, that's the main thing. We're not concerned with the team scores at the end," Brague explained.
And on the mats the Warriors have put up solid results individually.
Levi Congelton has posted a 17-1 record at 106 pounds while Cory Parsons is 16-2. Braden Hewitt is 12-5 at 132 while Trace Knotts is 14-4, Austin Antill is 13-5 and Harlow is 12-1.
"They have wrestled hard and done as best they can," Brague said.
After winning the Burt Builders Invitational, which they hosted, the Warriors struggled in duels at Chillicothe as well as a tournament at New Lexington, where Warren lost six classes due to forfeits.
This weekend Warren travels to Meadowbrook for a six team tournament with Dover, Martins Ferry, Canal Fulton, Lake and the host Colts.
Brague hopes to have a completely healthy roster within the next few weeks, barring anybody catching a case of the flu that's roaming the valley.
"We're hoping by the time John Deno (at Athens), first of February and league we have everybody back," Brague said.
While the Warriors have been battling injuries that have thinned their weight classes the Waterford Wildcats remain their traditionally small, but dominant team.
The Wildcats actually have one of their largest teams ever with 11 wrestlers, but they still give up six weight classes.
"This year, I kinda thought we were going to get out of that stereotype," Waterford wrestling coach Scott Zimmer said of his traditionally small team.
Waterford may have more numbers this year, but it is continuing its tradition of strong grapplers.
Senior Travis Efaw is 16-1 on the season in the 138-pound weight class and is just four wins away from 100 for his career.
"I knew and fully expected him to have the kind of season he's having," Zimmer praised.
As good as Efaw's been, the Wildcats have had other wrestlers keeping pace.
Austin Lang is 16-1 on the season at 126 pounds while junior Hunter Munjas is 11-5 at 170.
Munjas is expected to move down to 160 pounds in the next few weeks, and when that happens the Wildcats will be down to forfeiting just five weight classes.
With two of his 11 wrestlers posting a combined 32-2 record, Zimmer knows he has some talent that could find its way to Columbus.
But to get there, they have to be pushed along the way and that starts Saturday with a trip to the Shadyside Invitational.
"Those guys up there wrestle. They live, eat, sleep and breath it," Zimmer said.
Even going up against some outstanding teams this weekend Zimmer doesn't expect his team to back down from their biggest challenge to date.
That includes young wrestlers like Brice Miller, in just his second year out, and freshman Zeb Offenberger.
"These guys, they don't know the meaning of quitting," Zimmer praised.
No matter how big of a test waits, every team in the valley is looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm a little excited right now. The other coaches are excited. The team's excited," Walker said.