When South Adams lines up at the Marion Boys Cross Country Regional Saturday, they'll be led by senior Eric Isch.
A year ago, Isch wasn't on the team. Two years ago, Isch wasn't on this team, or any team.
"He was working on the farm and on getting his pilot's license. Guess he got bored with that," stated South Adams coach Clint Anderson.
Classmates, know Isch's potential, talked him into running track last spring, his first endeavor as a prep athlete.
"On the first day of track, he ran a 17:30 for three miles. I knew he was good," said Anderson.
"But he wanted to be a sprinter, then he got tired of that and we moved him into something he was really good at."
He's picked it up from there, replacing outstanding sophomore Evan Liechty as the top SA runner this year.
"Evan still has the school record," notes Isch. Liechty was the defending ACAC champ, having won his freshman year.
"One day I started running around our country block. I liked it, so I decided to try track last year. Dad was a runner so maybe I got it from him," said Isch.
Isch ran the 800 and 3200 last spring. He liked it. "But I like cross country better than track. It's more of a team thing and I enjoy that," said Isch.
Isch is going to add a third sport, swimming, this winter. "I'm actually a bad swimmer, but it's something the cross country guys do to stay in shape," said Isch.
Isch finished third with a 16:37 at sectional while Liechty finished 10th with a 17:24.
"Eric has elevated the rest of our team. We've got a really young team with freshmen and sophomores, so to bring in a kid like this who works hard and is consistent, it's been a big plus for us," said Anderson.
South Adams and Bellmont will be going for the top five at Marion in order to advance to semistate.
"It's going to be tough," said Anderson.
The Stars finished second at sectional and Bellmont fourth. BHS coach Randy Hisner feels that his team will have to beat Norwell again and likely Eastbrook and others from the other tourney in order to advance.
Bellmont's Evan Boucher ran seventh in the sectional at 16:55 while Nick Fuelling was next at 17:00. Blake Adams was 14th for the Braves in 17:32.
The BHS girls will be seeking a fourth straight semi-state position. It would be the team's 10th in 14 years.