For Annville-Cleona sophomore Jeffrey Inman, he had to find that silver lining after a heartbreaking 6-0 loss in the 132-pound final of the District Three Class AA wrestling championships to Hanover junior Ian Brown on Saturday evening.
Despite losing in the district final, his season will continue next weekend at the regional tournament at Wilson.
"It's awesome," said Inman shortly after his semifinal victory over Andrew Mellot of Boiling Springs that clinched the regional berth. "This was my goal the entire season, to make district finals. So I accomplished that; it's awesome.
"Not making it (to regionals) last year kinda stung," continued Inman. "To make it this year (was awesome)."
Standing in his way of entering next weekend's regional tournament as a district champ was Brown, a talented junior from Hanover who entered with a 32-2 record. Even before their matchup, Inman spoke well of his opponent, but also hinted a little bit at his strategy.
"He (Ian Brown) is a really good wrestler, and I know he placed at states," Inman said after his semifinal victory about his upcoming opponent. "I got to be really aggressive and take any chance I get."
Unfortunately for Inman, Brown quickly got ahead with a takedown and two back points off a tilt in the first period to go up 4-0. Brown then added an escape in the second and a double stall call in the third to make the final 6-0.
Even with the loss, Inman remained upbeat.
"I tried to be aggressive on my feet, especially, but I couldn't do much with my arm tied up a lot," said Inman. "On bottom I couldn't do much; he's really tough.
"It lets me know there's tougher competition out there and that I really need to raise my level."
To reach the finals, Inman first had to go through Mellott in the semis. Spotting Mellot a quick 2-0 lead, Inman scored the next nine points courtesy of an escape, a takedown and two instances of three near-fall points. Inman took the contest, 9-4.
Annville-Cleona head coach Mike Miller couldn't have been more pleased with his sophomore.
"I thought he (Inman) wrestled well," Miller said of Inman's final match against Brown. "We worked on a few things here and there to try and get more offense going, but for the most part I thought he wrestled very well."
After starting the day in semifinal action, Annville-Cleona's Josh Renninger and Elco's Zach Bankus enter next weekend's PIAA Southeast Regional as No. 5 seeds after dropping their semifinal bouts and then their consolation semifinal matches. That is certainly not the road they wanted, but they both are happy to move on.
Also advancing to next week's tournament are Northern Lebanon's Evan Daub (fourth at 152) and Caleb Blatt, who placed fifth at 126 pounds.
The county's AAA contingent didn't fare so well Saturday as all three wrestlers saw their seasons come to an end, some in heartbreaking fashion.
At 106 pounds, Palmyra's Evan Bogdan started the day in the semifinals going up against Solanco's Connor Sheehan. Sheehan made quick work of Bogdan, pinning him in 1:35 using a double arm-bar that stacked Bogdan.
Bogdan, still with an opportunity at qualifying for the state meet, dropped to the wrestleback bracket and faced off against Warwick's Devin Schnupp. Bogdan and Schnupp went back and forth for much of the match until the very end when Bogdan came just short of taking down Schnupp, losing 4-3.
His teammate, 220-pound senior Ben Martin, took out a rival from Lower Dauphin, David Wuestner, in his consolation quarterfinal match, then ran into all he could handle in Southwestern senior Aram Moffitt.
Moffitt took Martin down early and took a 3-0 lead into the third period when Martin escaped early on. Knowing he had to do something, Martin pushed for a headlock but got caught on his back by Moffitt, giving up a crucial five points in his 8-2 loss.
In the fifth-place matches to determine District Three's AAA state alternate, Martin (32-5) beat Mechanicsburg's Lucas Chestnut, 5-0.
Bogdan's junior season came to an end at 30-9 when he lost 10-0 to Southwestern's Owen Wherley in a match that he never got going.
Cedar Crest junior Adam Gilson will also be an alternate for District Three. He opened with a 6-4 victory over Exeter's James Moran, then followed up with a tough-to-swallow 1-0 loss to Manheim Township's John Shorter. Shorter did beat Gilson 7-1 in an opening-round matchup.
Gilson qualified as the alternate when Big Spring's Danny Hockensmith forfeited the fifth place match to him. Gilson's season likely ends at 35-8.
In AA, Annville-Cleona's Justin Ulrich opened the day in the semifinals at 160 pounds but was unable to win one of his final three matches as the junior was outgunned in each of his matches. He will bring home a medal as a sixth-place finisher, as will teammates Matthew Darok (113) and Tanner Pyles (138) as well as Elco's Austin Rueppel (145) and Northern Lebanon's Ryan Kelliher (170).
"We're bringing home three medals, and it's been awhile since we've had that many guys medal," said Northern Lebanon head coach Rusty Wallace.
A-C's Miller also echoed similar sentiments about bringing home medals.
"I thought we had a great tournament," he said. "We came with nine, and five got medals. We wrestled tough."
Also seeing their seasons end were Annville-Cleona's Dalton Himmelberger (145), as well as Northern Lebanon's Matt Vines (220) and Derek DiAngelis (182).
"It's a new tournament; that's how most of these are," said Elco head coach Chad Miller of next weekend's regional tournament. "You just move on to the next tournament. It's going to be tough."
Wallace echoed similar sentiments.
"We just have to prepare hard all week," the NL skipper said. "Next week it's a brand-new tournament. What you did this week doesn't mean anything. There's 12 guys and five are going to make it out. We're going to work real hard this week and fix a couple of our mistakes, go next week and get after it."
But for Inman, he was just happy to be here and to move on.
"I love it. I love coming here," said Inman even after his loss to Brown. "This is the first year I'm placing and moving on was my goal."