The disappointment was visible last weekend at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek when St. Johns failed to win its fifth consecutive Division 2 state wrestling title.
But many who were on the mat in an epic 35-34 fifth-tiebreaker loss to Lowell will have a chance to bring home some hardware at the individual state finals that begin today at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
"We've got 11, and I want 11 state champs," St. Johns coach Derek Phillips said. "The guys have been wrestling good this year, and I want them all to do the best that they can.
"The morale has been real good with the team. Everyone's doing a good job with (the loss in the final). They put it out there, and they wrestled the best that they could. Now they're focused, and they're ready to move on to the next week. They're real positive, and they're mentally and physically ready."
A few Redwings will have the chance to finish their season undefeated. Senior Zac Hall will be shooting for his fourth individual state title and is 48-0.
"Zac is just an incredible high school wrestler, one of the better ones probably to ever come out of Michigan," Phillips said. "I've been really looking forward to seeing him going out and wrestling how I know that he can. He's been a positive role model for the team."
Hall said he's more excited for individual states this year than any other.
"It's my last one, and I think having been there three times I know what to expect every time now," said Hall, who will wrestle at Michigan next season. "My coach was saying make the most of it while you're down there. While you're wrestling, more than anything just have fun with it. Don't worry about anything other than giving it your all and having a great time out there."
It was a younger St. Johns team this year compared to past versions and Hall's experience will be leaned on at The Palace with some of the first-time individual state final participants.
"I can still remember to this day how nervous I was, and it wasn't just the finals. Every single match was really high stakes," Hall said of his first individual states experience.
"You take a look up, you look at the crowd and you've never seen that many people watching you wrestle. Once you get comfortable down there, it helps a lot. When I was young, a lot of the seniors helped me out with that, and having that experience can help me take that to the younger guys and pass my wisdom along to them."
Sophomore Ian Parker (46-0 at 112 pounds), junior Logan Massa (47-0 at 152) and junior Angus Arthur (43-0 at 189) also will try for unblemished seasons when first round matches begin today.
The finals are a three-day event and conclude Saturday, leaving a long time in between matches compared to most one-day meets.
"I actually like this setup better. You have really long breaks in between matches and it allows you to especially prep for each and every match," Hall said.
"Once you win one round, you can just relax and get your mind off things which helps takes a lot of stress off you. If you get through Friday, and you're fortunate enough to wrestle in the finals, you get to sleep in since the finals don't start until 4 (p.m.). You wake up and you think 'Hey, I'm wrestling for a state title today.'"
Holt hopes some of its eight wrestlers in Division 1 can wake up Saturday saying the same thing.
"It all depends on which kids show up," Holt coach Rocky Shaft said. "I always say the hardest part about the state meet is getting there and whoever's hot on this weekend can make some things happen."
Senior Martin Rodriguez took third his freshman season and was runner-up at 125 pounds last year, losing a 6-4 decision.
"He's only lost to one kid this year and they're on opposite sides of the brackets, which is good. Maybe that will give him a little motivation right there," Shaft said.
After winning the state title at 103 pounds last year, junior Benny Gomez (47-1) will go for another individual state title at 112. Senior AJ Presley (36-11 at 145) will be making his third trip to The Palace after taking second at regionals and Shaft believes he can make a deep run in his weight class.
Thu.-Sat. at Palace of Auburn Hills
NOTE: Number behind weight class is place at regionals. (Year in school and won-lost record in parentheses).
Holt: 112-1. Benny Gomez (jr. 47-1), 119-1. Martin Rodriguez (sr. 42-1), 130-3. Mino Trevino (jr. 37-6), 135-4. Kolin Leyrer (fr. 35-8), 140-4. Mike Shaw (so. 29-15), 145-2. AJ Presley (sr. 34-11), 189-4. Gage Sivyer (sr. 34-10), 215-3. Tim Fischer (jr. 26-12)
Grand Ledge: 119-3. Jay Jay Brickley (sr. 35-6) , 130-4. Dylan Steward (so. 34-11)
East Lansing: 152-3. Kamyab Kamali (jr. 34-7), 285-2. Brian Darios (jr. 37-1)
BAY CITY WESTERN REGIONAL
St. Johns: 103-4. Emilio Sanchez (fr. 33-15), 112-1. Ian Parker (so. 46-0), 119-3. Lucas McFarland (fr. 36-13), 130-3. Bret Fedewa (fr. 28-17), 140-1. Zac Hall (sr. 48-0), 145-1. Mark Bozzo (sr. 33-6), 152-1. Logan Massa (jr. 47-0), 160-2. Drew Wixson (jr. 27-7), 189-1. Angus Arthur (jr. 43-0), 215-2. Ty Wildmo (jr. 32-5), 285-4. Jake Gnegy (so. 11-7)
Lansing Eastern: 160-3. Jerek Crim (sr. 31-7)
Fowlerville: 103-1. Dalton Roberts (sr. 43-5), 125-3. Kyle Roberts (so. 41-11), 171-3. Mason Litz (jr. 42-8)
Waverly: 125-1. David Leija (so. 38-4), 215-3. Cameron Lee (sr. 38-5)
DeWitt: 135-2. Kameron Melton (sr. 32-7), 135-3. Austin Melton (so. 44-3)
Bath/Lansing Catholic qualifier: 140-4. Chris Root (sr. 32-4)
SPRING LAKE REGIONAL
Eaton Rapids: 130-1. Jaedin Skalpsky (jr. 47-1), 135-3. Lane McVicker (so. 34-3), 145-3. Blaine Milheim (jr. 38-7), 152-4. Caleb Norris (22-12), 215-3. Clayton Higelmire (so. 25-15)
Charlotte: 125-4. Eric Wales (jr. 32-8), 215-2. Chase Challender (sr. 34-3)
Ionia: 103-1. Cameron Mahlich (fr. 42-5)
Mason: 135-4. Connor Clark (jr. 31-8), 171-1. Rylen Droscha (sr. 49-2)
Leslie: 119-1. Kanen Storr (so. 54-1), 140-1. Zehlin Storr (sr. 57-0)
Olivet: 285-2. Jarred Calkins (sr. 33-8)
Corunna: 103-1. Tristan Serbus (so. 42-1), 140-4. Dylan Briggs (fr. 34-12), 145-4. Jerry Yelinek (fr. 34-15), 189-3. Cody Conklin (sr. 36-16)
Williamston: 135-2. Jared Fleming (jr. 33-13), 285-3. Maddox Maki (so. 38-8)
Perry/Morrice: 160-4. Cody Proudfoot (sr. 40-10)
Lakewood: 140-1. Jordon Bennett (jr. 44-1)
Portland: 112-2. Paul Savage (jr. 37-11), 112-3. Dominic Gardner (so. 27-23), 135-2. Alex Young (jr. 31-8), 145-4. Derek Gardner (sr. 34-10)
Alma: 130-1. Damian Castillo (jr. 46-6), 160-2. Boyd Hubbard (jr. 44-6)
NEW LOTHROP REGIONAL
Carson-City Crystal: 112-2. Alex Baker (jr. 32-4), 112-4. Taylor Barkley (so. 34-10), 125-1. Dallas O'Green (so. 40-3), 145-2. Darren Decker (jr. 42-1), 152-2. Dillen Decker (jr. 37-2)
Dansville: 103-4. Chaz Kehres (so. 16-6), 112-1. Clay Ragon (so. 51-1), 119-1. Dresden Simon (so. 46-3), 189-4. Jacob Stid (sr. 22-9)
Laingsburg: 130-3. Malachi Marshall (jr. 39-10), 215-1. Kevin Koenig (so. 44-3)
Fulton: 112-3. Trevor Hilgendorf (sr. 31-4), 130-4. Clint Kupiec (jr. 22-9)