Tyler Scotton and James Green knocked on the door to wrestling immortality last March, but it didn't open.
Willingboro's dynamic duo lost in its bid for state titles at 130 and 140 pounds, respectively.
However, the seniors are back for another crack at individual state championships, and if they get to compete in the big meet again, they'll be better prepared.
Scotton will move up to 135 from 130, where he had a 39-0 record when he faced Queen of Peace's Frank Cagnina.
Cagnina was New Jersey's all-time winningest wrestler, with a 160-4 career record and two state crowns on his resumé. He decisioned Scotton, 7-0, in his final high school bout to improve his season record to 35-0.
"I was shocked that I lost by that much," Scotton said. "I told myself I wasn't going to lose another high school match in my career. I use it for motivation so I can win a state title this year."
Willingboro coach Mark Cuniglio said that adrenaline had taken away Scotton's energy because he had been "overhyped" for the bout against Cagnina.
To prepare for the 2010-11 season, Scotton focused mainly on getting stronger. He did total-body workouts with free weights daily and wrestled at a club in Flemington a couple of times a week. Green, his neighbor and childhood friend, also wrestled there.
"My technique has improved," Scotton said. "I worked on my top and bottom moves, sharpened my skills in the neutral position. I'm faster on my feet."
An honors student, Scotton next year will wrestle at Boston University, which has given him a full scholarship, he said.
Green said he would be part of the wrestling program at Nebraska, which was one of five Division 1 colleges recruiting him. But first, he has some business to take care of.
Green would have had an unblemished record at 140 last season instead of 35-2 if Hank Stinson hadn't been around. The Eastern senior, whom Green defeated in district competition, beat Green by 6-1 in the Region 7 competition and 7-5 in the state final.
"I learned that I have to keep the pressure on, more foot movement, better timing," Green said about his losses to Stinson, who graduated. "I would like to win a state title, but if I don't I'll win as many national titles as I can in college."
To that end, Green wrestled not only in Flemington but also in tournaments around the country at 145, at which he will compete this year.
"I won the Flow Nationals in Ohio last April at 145," Green said. "I was second at 145 at the Super 32 in October in North Carolina.
"I wrestled freestyle at the junior duals in New Jersey and Oklahoma, where I went 10-0."
With all of that national competition, Green thinks he won't have butterflies to contend with if he makes it to the state final again.
Cuniglio is looking forward to their succeeding at the highest level.
"They won't stop until they're standing on the top [step] of the podium in Atlantic City," Cuniglio said. "Last year was a disappointment to them. They're more mature now. They know the tournament, how to control body weight, the ins and outs of the sport. They have one last shot.
"I look forward to seeing it, seeing them standing on that podium."