The expectations were high for the Glassboro boys' track and field team, but a Tri-County Diamond Division dual meet loss to Group 3 Delsea could have left the Bulldogs going one of two ways.
Glassboro, under the direction of veteran coach Bruce Farquhar, took the upward route.
The Bulldogs bounced back from that 75-65 loss in a big way.
Glassboro hit its stride when it counted most by winning both the South Jersey and state Group 1 championships in convincing fashion, not only making Farquhar prophetic, but also earning him the title of The Inquirer's South Jersey boys' track and field coach of the year.
"In the Delsea meet, their Group 3 depth wore us down," Farquhar said. "I said at the time we may not win the Tri-County [Diamond] division, but winning South Jersey and state championships is something we could do."
Farquhar used that loss to a talented Delsea team as motivation.
"I give Delsea kudos, but that was a wake-up call," Farquhar said.
So much so that the Bulldogs were both confident and unbeatable as the sectional championships approached.
In the South Jersey Group 1 championships, the Bulldogs scored 181.5 points to more than double the total of second place Haddon Heights, which finished with 82 points. Afterward, Farquhar was told it was the largest margin of victory in history for any sectional champion.
Actually, Farquhar was a much better coach than forecaster.
"I thought South Jersey Group 1 was going to be a nail-biter, and if our kids didn't show up [to compete] it would be really close," he said. "We were wrong and everything seemed to go right."
And it continued the following week in the state championship, when the Bulldogs maintained their dominance, scoring 86 points to win the state Group 1 championship. Second place Haddon Heights had 381/3 points.
"We were originally worried about that dual-meet loss to Delsea, but the team bounced back and had their eye on the big prize," Farquhar said.
Of course, there were several other impressive prizes for Glassboro, including titles in the Cam/Glo Relays, the Bridgeton Relays, and the Woodbury Relays.
What was most impressive about Glassboro was that Farquhar had such a versatile team. The Bulldogs were strongest in the sprints and jumps.
In fact, senior Ryan Chance would win the triple jump at the Meet of Champions. Classmate James Brown placed second in a photo finish with Egg Harbor Township's Tejay Johnson in the 100 meters.
Ali Ejaz joined Brown and Chance as an individual Group 1 state champion by winning the 400 hurdles.
Glassboro had a senior-laden team, and Farquhar made sure that this veteran group didn't get complacent and peaked when it counted the most.
"We knew we had a good team coming back from last year," Farquhar said. "But this still sort of exceeded our expectations because of the way we won."
And they were led by a coach who used a defeat as the impetus for some impressive victories down the stretch.