The Jefferson City girls track and field team had 12 months to think about failing to win a district championship for the first time in 16 years.
But now, the Lady Jays are back on top.
After falling to Rock Bridge last season, Jefferson City got its revenge by edging the Lady Bruins by nine points to earn a first-place finish at the Class 4 District 5 meet Saturday at Adkins Stadium.
"You can't lose something for the first time in 16 years and not be (mad) about it," Lady Jays coach Dan Ridgeway said. "We knew we would have to have a great effort today and we did everything we needed to do."
Jefferson City finished with 159 points, while Rock Bridge finished second with 150 and Hickman took third with 72. Washington (62), Camdenton (60) and Waynesville (37) rounded out the top-six teams.
The Lady Jays, who have now won 16 district titles since 1997, were happy to be back on top of the podium.
"We hear a lot from the coaches about how this program has had so many wins in the past," Jefferson City sophomore Haley Watson said. "You feel like you have to uphold that. Last year I felt like we let, not only the current team down, but I felt like we let down all the people who came before us because they kind of blazed a trail and it was our job to follow that."
Watson was the lone individual to earn a first-place finish for Jefferson City, but that didn't keep the Lady Jays from collecting points.
"The top-four go on, but our kids really buy into the fact of, every point matters," Ridgeway said. "They really wanted our team to win and they were striving to get that extra place, that extra point."
The Lady Jays, who were ranked second coming into the meet, scored four more points than they were supposed to. Jefferson City also over-performed in seven events and only underperformed in two, according to seeding charts.
Kezia Martin picked up two second-place finishes, while Emma Elwood, Andrea Hughes, Ellanie Jamison and Destinee Milton all took second in their events.
The Lady Jays' 4x100-meter relay team of Louisa Nylander, Nicole Martin, Madison Deatherage and Naomi Kerkula also picked up a first-place finish.
"We were all extra excited," Kezia Martin said. "We were super nervous too because we knew we had to perform well. We knew we could do it and now we're happy we got it back."
Nylander, Emily Deeken, Mallory York and Alexi Roberson all earned third-place finishes to help lead Jefferson City, while Lexi Stull, Kaitlyn West, and Torri Bonnot will also make the trip to the sectional meet after finishing in the top four in their events.
Jefferson City's 4x800- 4x200 and 4x400-meter relay teams were also top-four finishers.
"It always feels great to win, especially since we weren't supposed to this year," Ridgeway said. "On paper, Rock Bridge had more points to us going in. Our girls took that to heart and we had a great meet."