Jack Duane was the first to try to block it out. He pulled his sweatshirt hood over his head and twisted it to cover his eyes. He couldn't bear to watch.
His Hilton Head High wrestling teammates stood nearby - each appearing more distraught than the next - while they listened to the announcement of Lugoff-Elgin's roster. The noise didn't make much sense to many of them, with their thoughts instead occupied elsewhere.
As the announcement finished, Duane pulled his hood down, hoping for a better picture. But when he looked up, he saw a trophy sitting on an empty folding chair on the Seahawks' bench - a silver one that fit too well into the Seahawks' collection.
He put his hands on his head as the reality registered - for the third straight season, Hilton Head High would be forced to settle for second best.
Lugoff-Elgin captured its first Class 3-A state title since 2003 with a 40-17 win against the Seahawks in the championship match at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School on Wednesday night. The match officially ended Eastside's run of six consecutive state championships.
"We came here to win; we didn't come here satisfied with taking home another second place," Duane said, with a break in his voice.
The No. 1-ranked Demons didn't give them much of a choice.
Stephen Bonaparte's win at 160 pounds and a technical fall from Will Connell at 171 gave Lugoff-Elgin a quick 9-0 advantage.
Though Hilton Head's big guns of Duane and fellow top-ranked wrestler David Beck followed with wins, the Demons held the lead the remainder of the night, thanks to their ability to avoid the upset.
"They kept the momentum the whole match," Duane said. "We couldn't get the swing match to get it back. It's the story of our lives - everything seems to go against us at states."
A deep Lugoff-Elgin lineup played a heavy part in that. The Demons won nine of the 14 weight classes. They added six-point wins with pins in three. Chris Renfroe (112), Alonzo Grant (140) and Will Myers (152) each had falls, all of which came in the second period or later.
Grant's pin effectively sealed the win for the Demons, giving them an insurmountable 34-14 lead with just two weight classes remaining.
"It was awesome to be able to sit back and enjoy the moment," Demons first-year coach Evan Moxie said. "I told them all year this is what we wanted to do. But this is a little beyond expectation."
The Seahawks' efforts toward the same goal was broken with their inability to find bonus-point wins. Only Nick Tennison's win accounted for more than three team points. He recorded a technical fall at 103 pounds.
Chris Ordonez (130), Quinn Williams-McClure (145), Duane (189) and Beck (215) also won for the Seahawks, but all were by decision.
"We didn't wrestle our best tonight, but even if we did, it wouldn't have been enough," Hilton Head coach Mike Newton said. "As a competitor, you don't want to admit it, but they were the better team. They were here for a reason, too."
That fact didn't make it any easier for the Seahawks, especially the team's seniors. Even though each won Wednesday night, Williams-McClure, Duane and Beck finished their careers with three Lower State titles but without a state championship ring.
"After every one, I tell myself there's always next year," said Duane, a senior captain. "But there is no next year for me. And that's hard to take right now.
"You want to walk away accomplished. I'll walk away feeling like there's unfinished business."
Lugoff-Elgin 40, Hilton Head High 17
Note: The match started at 160 pounds
103: Nick Tennison (HHH) tech. fall Aaron Green, 16-1.
112: Chris Renfroe (LE) pinned Label Lewis, second period.
119: T.J. Branham (LE) major dec. Richard Jenkins, 10-0.
125: Tony Murphy (LE) def. Campbell Miller, 4-1.
130: Chris Ordonez (HHH) def. Dreshon Wood, 2-1.
135: Parker Singleton (LE) def. Nic Levy, 8-4.
140: Alonzo Grant (LE) pinned Seth Anthony, second period.
145: Quinn Williams-McClure (HHH) def. Jacob Burr, 13-12.
152: Will Myers (LE) pinned Chad Dimmock, third period.
160: Stephen Bonaparte (LE) major dec. Lewis McKelliver, 15-2.
171: Will Connell (LE) tech. fall Ray Harrington, 15-0.
189: Jack Duane (HHH) def. Max Fowler, 12-7.
215: David Beck (HHH) def. Theo Sheppard, 8-7.
285: Jonathan McManus (LE) def. Nick Bautista, 4-0.