For Friedman, who will wrestle at Pennsylvania, it is being relentless in his preparation and taking advantage of every opportunity. For Kraisser it is preparation, treating every opponent the same and never being finished proving something to himself. And for Farace, who is still exploring his college options, which include Maryland, it has been finding a way to have fun while working hard to achieve.
Farace has wrestled nearly his entire life, but he thought about giving it up after his freshman year when his cousin Matthew Barcase was killed in an auto accident.
"Matthew was more like a brother to me, and after that happened, I didn't truly want to wrestle going in to my sophomore year," Farace said. "I wasn't having fun. But with the help of my parents and coaches, I learned how to have fun with wrestling — making friends, cracking a joke or two during the water break, goofing around together before and after practice.
"Wrestling is so hard. I learned if you're not having fun, it's not worth doing it at all. I think it's key to what Nathan, Eric and I have been able to do. Each of us has learned in our own way how to have fun within the sport. Having fun with it is what enables you to work harder. I think all three of us are very hard workers, determined and strong-willed. But we're human, like anyone else. I think the fact that we all have fun with the sport is what sets us apart."
Friedman exhibited some of that playfulness when asked his favorite wrestling move. He didn't talk about the cradle that Farace has worked hard to perfect, nor did he take Kraisser's general, "whatever works," approach.
"My favorite move," Friedman said, "is when the ref raises my hand at the end of the match signifying I've won."
All three of them hope to execute that move to perfection over the next few weeks.
Previous four-time state champions
MPSSAA: Matt Slutzky, Aberdeen (1989-1992); Steve Kessler, Owings Mills (1994-1997); Josh Asper, Hereford (2005-2008); George Scheffel, Southern Garrett (2007-2010).
MIS: Mack Lewnes (2003-2006), Mount St. Joseph; Mike Rowe, DeMatha (2002-2005); Josh Fitch, McDonogh (2005-2008).
Maryland Scholastic Association (no longer in existence): Greg Peery, Mount St. Joseph (1977-1980).