The tale of Carter Brown's hurdling success is one of rags to riches.
"I tried it in sixth grade and I was awful. I'm the first to admit it," he said. "I wasn't even good enough to compete. Seventh grade, we needed hurdlers, so I decided to try it, to see what I could do, and I wasn't too bad."
Four years later, the South Central junior is one of the top 110-meter high hurdlers in the area.
"It was just touching up different stuff over the years," Brown said. "I got as much help as I could. Past people who've run (at South Central), they've come out and helped. It's just been constantly improving to the point I'm at now."
Brown's time of 15.65 ranks fourth locally in the 110s.
"Carter's a very conscientious kid," S.C. coach Kim Werner said. "He's just a competitor. It helps that he's a long-legged kid and he's worked very hard on getting his form better, staying low over the hurdles."
Brown finished seventh in the 110s at the Portage Sectional last season. He is eying a top-four finish, a regional berth and maybe even a trip to Bloomington this time.
"I'm doing everything I can to get myself into the low 15s," he said. "Right now, my focus is on (today's Porter County) Conference (meet). This is the best opportunity we've had to take home a championship as a team since I began running track. I make that goal clear to the other guys. I do my best to keep them motivated."
Brown credits his marked time drop to form improvements and strength gained from football weight training.
"You get everything you need to excel and it shows how much when you go out and compete," he said. "You look at football and track, they're totally different ball games, but if you work hard in one, it shows in the other."
For all of Brown's success, he prefers to talk about the team, which is enjoying its best season since he started wearing spikes.
"It's great to finally bring home some wins and be able to be proud of the program," he said. "Since my freshman year, we've always been in the girls' shadow. Other schools look at us like, 'Oh, it's just South Central.' I doubt there are any teams you see with the work ethic of the guys I run with."
Werner returned to coaching this season after nearly a decade away, taking over a young team with few known commodities, and was thankful Brown was one of them. He might not have been gung ho about long jumping at the start, but he did it because Werner asked. In addition to the hurdles, Brown has run the open 200 and 400. He does a leg on a strong 400 relay as well as the 1,600 relay.
"You really love having a kid like that on the team," Werner said. "He does whatever's in the best interests of the team. We've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores out for the first time and he's real nice with taking them under his wing, trying to explain what it means to be in high school track. They're like, if he's not complaining, maybe I shouldn't complain either. That goes a long way as well."
Part of a military-oriented family, Brown is in the process of applying for a nomination to West Point. As with track, he has a bigger picture in mind.
"I look at it as a way to serve my country and I've always been interested in doing what I can," he said. "It's the perfect opportunity to see the world and get an education. It's always nice to be part of something bigger. Look at South Central track. For the longest time, we were a group of individuals. Now we're all coming together. It's an awesome experience."