When your down years are the kind of seasons other schools would kill for, you know you've got something special going.
That's the case for the Linn boys cross country team, which turned a rebuilding year into a second-place finish at the Class 1 state meet.
With their Show-Me Conference compatriot, Russellville, capturing the state title with 87 points, Linn bested the rest of the state and came in with 111 points.
"Overall we're very pleased," Linn coach Tim Bower said. "In reality, this should have been a rebuilding year for us. We graduated six seniors last year (from a team that finished second in the state) and two all-staters, with one of them a state champion. ... But the kids came out in June and said they were going to get it done and worked very hard.
"So instead of a rebuilding year, we made it a reloading year."
The Wildcats have now won a whopping 14 trophies at state since 1987 - five state titles, five seconds, two thirds and two fourths.
"We're quite fortunate, we've got some great kids that like to win," Bower said. "Winning never gets old and as long as they keep working, we can be here for a long time."
Leading the way for Linn was Chase Jones, who was the Wildcats' lone all-stater, finishing sixth in a time of 17:18.36.
"That's a great finish for a freshman," Bower said. "He hasn't had a bad race all season long. Every single day out, he gave 100 percent. He's just a hard-nosed competitor and he's going to have some good things to come."
Other finishers for Linn included Joey Nilges (34th, 18:11.88), Greg Spillman (40th, 18:19.06), Ethan Grellner (44th, 18:33.05), Noah Voss (63rd, 18:52.97), Jacob Voss (94th, 19:33.01) and Jake Butts (101st, 19:40.06).
"This was a little bit different for us," Bower said. "In years past we've normally had a couple front-runners up there, been a front-running team. This year, we were definitely a pack team.
"That's been our success all year, guys working with one another, feeding off one another and cheering each other on throughout the race."
And the Wildcats followed the game plan to perfection.
"We started out really well," Bower said. "I told them not to go out too hard and just work that second mile and give it everything they had in the third. And it worked out well."