A scholarship was something Kapaun Mount Carmel senior Tim Wescott always yearned for growing up. Stardom on the football field was what he believed was in store for him.
This year he completed his goal and accepted a scholarship to Friends University.
It was a dream realized except for one part — he will be running cross country, not playing football.
"I would have never guessed, no," Wescott said. "I never thought switching to cross country would be that big of a change. It was pretty cool to get a scholarship for it."
A third concussion sustained during his junior year playing football made Wescott reconsider his future. He decided to finish out the final two weeks of the fall season running cross country.
This spring, Wescott is running the 1600 and 3200 meters.
"You would think it's kind of crazy, but after only being in cross country for two weeks last year, he put in more work over the summer than any of the rest of my guys," said Damian Smithhisler, Kapaun's track and field and cross country coach. "And it showed."
When Wescott came out for a practice, Smithhisler saw an undersized football lineman (5-foot-10, 145 pounds) more than a distance runner.
Kapaun wrestling coach Tim Dryden shared the sentiment when Wescott showed up in the wrestling room. But both coaches agree that Wescott manufactures his success, rather than rely on raw ability.
"When we did conditioning at the end of practices, Tim was always the one out in front," Dryden said. "We always would try to motivate the other guys to stay with Tim. It's easier said than done."
Already, Wescott has enjoyed success this school year. In the fall, he finished in the top 10 at City League cross country and qualified for the state meet. In the winter, he was the 145-pound division champion in the City League and qualified for the state wrestling tournament.
"I think it was one of those cases where they have a little bit of success and enjoy it and kind of fall in love with it and want more," Smithhisler said. "Then they set their mind to do it and go out and get better and better."
Wescott agrees that the success drove him early on. But that hunger only got him so far. According to Wescott, it was his willpower that elevated him to the next level.
"Really, distance running is a very mental sport," Wescott said. "Most people don't realize that. A lot of people can run, but it's whoever has the mental capacity to go out there and tell their self they can finish it, they can keep the pace. That's what separates the good runners from the great ones."
The state of a champion — There's always added pressure when you're a defending state champion, like Derby's Meshach Kennedy.
Kennedy won Class 6A's 110 hurdles and knows this season will be difficult to repeat.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work," Kennedy said. "I have to go harder than I did last year, so I make sure I win state again this year. Running as the champion, I have that X on my back."
But few have been able to take the target down. In the season-opening Winfield Invitational last week, Kennedy ran 14.82 seconds in his specialty event to win.
"In the early season, it's really about building up your endurance," Kennedy said. "Later in the season, that's when you start to work on speed and kicking it up in gears."