A strong finish carried Papillion-La Vista to an eighth place finish in the Class A team race at the State Wrestling Championships at the CenturyLink Center.
P-LV won 11 of its last 15 matches, including a 5-for-5 effort in the heartbreak round, and finished with five medalists.
After winning seven of 10 first round matches, the Monarchs dropped six of seven quarterfinal contests.
Knowing what was ahead of them in the wrestlebacks, the Monarchs went to work.
“We had some tough draws in the quarters, but we talked about coming back the next day and moving on,” Monarch coach Mike Braun said. “I was so pleased we finished up like we did and wrestled to our expectations.”
With medals hanging in the balance for five wrestlers Friday night, all five came through with victories to ensure them hardware.
The one Monarch who didn't have to worry about that was senior 126-pounder Joey Perez.
He was the lone Monarch to reach the semifinals, although his run for a title ended with a 6-3 loss to eventual champion Robert Ozuna of Omaha North.
He came back the next day with two convincing victories, including an 11-1 triumph over Riley Hanson of Creighton Prep in the third place match. Perez, 49-3 for the year, exits his state tourney career with three medals.
“It was hard knowing I wasn't going to be a state champ, but I was ready to get after it today,” Perez said. “When I started my wrestling career, I never imagined I'd be a three-time state medalist. Coach Braun played a big part in that.”
The medal was especially gratifying after last season's struggles in which an illness prevented Perez from bringing home a medal.
“This eases the pain from last year,” he said.
With nearly 170 career wins to his credit, Perez has been a model of consistency for the Monarch program.
“Joey has a very business-like approach and he's that way every day,” Braun said. “For the past two weeks, I believed he was going to be a state champion just by the way he walked and talked.
“When that didn't happen for him, he came right back and said he was going to work to get third.”
No one had to work harder for third place then 160-pound junior Brandon Sorgenfrei.
After losing his first match in overtime, Sorgenfrei took the long route to the medal stand, winning five consecutive matches to secure his first state medal.
He avenged that opening loss with a 1-0 victory over Ryan Schuette of Lincoln Southwest in the consolation semifinals, then completed his run with a 5-3 win over Corbin Foster of Central in the third place match.
“Brandon is a special kid,” Braun said. “But he knew he didn't wrestle well in that opening match and you start to worry he might go 0-2.
“But he was able to use that to get going and wrestle very well.”
Sorgenfrei said he could feel the momentum building as he fought his way back through the consolations.
“I felt more confident with each match,” he said. “That first round loss was tough, but I had it coming to me.
“I wasn't just satisfied with getting back into the medal round. I started to think, 'why can't I get third?”
Brendan Crews fell one victory shy of a third place finish as his 4-2 record gave him a fourth place showing and his first state medal at 138.
“I think this showed Brendan he's capable of getting to the next level and there's more out there for him.”
Senior Preston Kelly capped his final state tourney with a fifth-place medal at 170, going 4-2 on the weekend, while junior Michael Conley finished 3-3 for the weekend and placed sixth.
“I'm so happy for Preston,” Braun said. “He's a fun-loving kid and it's a testament to him that he fought back like he did to get fifth.
“Michael is disappointed because he knows he could have been higher, but that's going to light a fire inside him to not be satisfied.”
Reilly Carlow (145); Gabe Patras (195) and Kyle Emerick (220) each won their opening matches before consecutive setbacks ended their tourney runs.
Thomas Cahill (120) and Austin McDonald (132) each finished 0-2 on the weekend.