The feeling of coming up short is something Valley City sophomore wrestler Koye Grebel knows all too well.
"My goal was to win it last year. It didn't happen," said Grebel.
As a freshman, he wrestled in the Class A state championship's 106-pound title match. The No. 1 seed out of the East, he lost to Jamestown's Grady Anderson. But his faith hasn't wavered.
"That was a part of the plan God had for me and this is just what I'm on," he said.
What Grebel went through is what Valley City's dealt with so many times before. Winners of five of the last six East Dakota Conference championships, the Hi-Liners have failed to capture a single team state title.
"It's a lot like life. You got to learn how to deal with adversity," said head coach Aaron Larson. "Our kids have done a great job of dealing with the adversity we've had."
But Valley City's seen one of their own reach the pinnacle. Last year, teammate Parker Larson won the 160-pound state title, inspiring belief amongst the 2021 roster.
"When you have someone that goes that far and does that well, it really makes it seem like it's more possible," said senior wrestler Ezra Hanse.
This season, the Hi-Liners are on a roll; winning duals by scores of 83-0 and 75-6.
"We just ask everybody does the best with what they have in each weight class," said Grebel. "Just working together as a team, accomplishing our individual goals and our team goals."
As Valley City continues the quest for its first state title, this year's roster is hoping to be the change.
"We kind of feel like every year's the year we can get it done" said Larson. "We have seven returning state place winners on our team and we have some kids that are extremely hungry and we're ready to take our wrestling to the next level."
Valley City is 9-0 in EDC competition and 17-2 overall. Their regular season wraps Thursday.