"I think it left us with a much better taste in our mouth," said Herskind of her team's state finish saving the season.
Still, if nothing more, all the change of a year ago served as a wake-up call for the Rebels — the area's only state qualifier.
"It was bound to happen sometime," said Herskind of the league-title streak concluding. "I think we were becoming horribly complacent. As bad as it is to lose, I think it was good for us.
"We're a lot different team now because we don't have that title."
And now the quest begins to reclaim it.
Much of the upcoming boys' cross-country season seems to focus around redemption.
Both Crescenta Valley and St. Francis are directed at once more establishing themselves among the hierarchy of their respective leagues rather than as programs edging into a final postseason slot.
And for Glendale and Hoover, it appears the time is now to alter their identities as Pacific League have-nots and vault into postseason status.
"Last year was really a tough year for us," said Falcons Coach Mark Evans of a campaign in which his team took fourth in the Pacific League. "If you would've asked me two months ago, I wouldn't have been so optimistic. Now, I'm really impressed."
Having been most impressive is junior Mike Duncan, returning as the Falcons' No. 1 runner after an All-Pacific League and All-Area junior campaign.
"I think Mike Duncan is looking particularly good," Evans said.
But the key is likely what the Falcons behind Duncan, such as senior Bob Anderson and juniors Brandon Baum and Adam Akopyan, can accomplish.