DES MOINES — North Scott has reached a point in its wrestling program where getting to the state dual team tournament is not enough.
With three appearances at Wells Fargo Arena in four years, the Lancers have proven they are among the better programs in Iowa Class 3A.
The next hurdle is becoming elite.
As Wednesday illustrated, there still is a gap between the top-tier programs in the Central Iowa Metropolitan League and North Scott.
Second-ranked West Des Moines Valley won 10 of 14 matches, including six falls, to upend North Scott 49-21 in a quarterfinal dual.
The Lancers split their two consolation matches, beating Iowa City High (39-36) and falling to Johnston (43-35) to place sixth among the eight teams.
"Honestly, we've just got to keep plugging away," North Scott coach Drew Kelly said. "We have the people in the room, we've got the coaches and support, and our kids are believing in what we're doing.
"Things are headed in the right direction. This is where we want to be every year. Sixth is nice, but we're not happy with that. We know where the bar is set right now with those top four or five teams."
North Scott was fifth last year and seventh in 2015.
Even with three freshmen and three other first-year starters in its lineup, North Scott compiled a 24-5 dual mark. It was undefeated in Mississippi Athletic Conference duals.
Its three regular-season dual losses all came at the Battle of Waterloo against Valley, Lisbon and Don Bosco.
"There is always a next level to reach," senior Zach Petersen said. "Even if you're winning state titles, everyone has a next gear or a little extra you can push yourself."
In the opening dual, Valley strung together three straight wins on two occasions to gain control.
Hunter Underwood edged TJ Yates 6-4 in sudden victory at 170 pounds to give Valley a 9-6 lead. Bracken Cobb and Joel Shapiro followed with pins to make it a 21-6 margin.
Petersen was a bright spot for North Scott, posting a 9-1 major decision over fourth-ranked Beau Lombardi at 220. Lombardi and Petersen have split their four meetings this season.
"It is always nice to beat someone like that," Petersen said. "It is one of those matches that gets you ready to go for the rest of the week."
Valley, with six state-ranked wrestlers, had too much firepower.
Besides Cobb and Shapiro, Grant Stotts (152), Nick Oldham (113), Brendan Nielsen (120) and Ryan Myers (145) had falls.
Kelly couldn't fault the effort.
"I thought we wrestled well all day long, but you can't afford not to win those toss-up matches against a team like that," Kelly said.
North Scott collected pins from Yates, Petersen, Cole Ernst (285), Cael Bredar (113), Caleb McCabe (126) and Collin Lewis (145) in the win over sixth-ranked Iowa City High.
Kelly had his seven individual state qualifiers sit out of the last dual.
"I liked how most of those guys performed in the first two matches," Kelly said. "They've got the right mindset going into the next three days."