The idea seemed a little far-fetched to Halle Suderman and Quinn Balliet when they were freshmen.
That year, North coach Michael Pope didn't have enough girls cross country runners to count a team score, but he had a vision for the program.
"He sat us down and told us by the time we were seniors, he would build us a team and we would be able to go to state," Balliet said.
This is Year 4 of the plan and with Suderman and Balliet as seniors, North finally has the runners in place to contend for a state berth — just like Pope promised.
"It's really a big deal," Suderman said. "We're still kind of in shock. We're seeing all of those little things he told us start to pay off. It's just crazy how everything has come together."
It started in the first year with Suderman and Balliet as the foundation. Suderman has blossomed into North's second runner and Balliet should contribute on varsity.
When Amber Eichkorn arrived the next year, North found its top-end runner. Inconsistency has followed Eichkorn during her cross country seasons, but she shed that label during track season.
"I learned that I just have to be myself," Eichkorn said. "I have to think of myself as the little person still or I freeze up. So this year I'm going to be the silent little lamb that goes."
Last year the supporting cast filled in. Sydney Kniep, a sophomore, rounds out the top three but the final two scoring spots are wide open.
Pope is convinced he has viable options among Balliet, Daya Sargent, Martina Salerno and Jessamyn Ferguson. All have improved through off-season conditioning, which Pope thinks is the reason the program has taken off.
"I get out there and run with them, too, and they see me out there running with them and think what's good for coach is good for them," Pope said. "As long as I hold that role, they seem to step up and commit to the program."
No longer is a pedestrian finish in the City League expected for North when it opens it season Saturday at the Bishop Carroll Invitational. Expectations are there now.
"We finally got the team we need to do business," Eichkorn said.