You can't judge a book by its cover, the saying goes.
So it is with South Central's Hope Myroup, who might look like a 14-year-old freshman, but certainly doesn't act or run like one.
"I've been coaching her since sixth grade, and she's always been very mature," Satellites coach Rachel Werner said.
"She's always been very serious about running. She's not afraid to put in the work. The experience she brings with her is amazing. Some kids don't have it until they're seniors. She came in seasoned and ready to just add to the team."
Myroup started running when she was 4, largely out of curiosity and a desire to tag along with her dad, Dave.
"He took up running when I was older to keep fit," Myroup said. "I thought I was missing out on something. I don't like to miss out on opportunities. My mom was like, 'Oh, just let her go. See how she likes it.'"
Obviously, Myroup liked it, a lot. She joined the Calumet Region Striders club by the time she was 6, when she competed in a national cross country meet. Myroup has done countless road races since then, in addition to several half-marathons (13.1 miles), where she's typically one of only a handful of entrants in her age group.
"I like the social (aspect)," she said. "You meet a lot of different people. It's neat to meet everybody and get to know their personalities. Now I'm seeing people at meets that I've gotten to know earlier on."
In the process, Myroup has also learned about the investment-dividend nature of running.
"I trained over the winter, in the summer," she said. "I always think hard work pays off. I've always had the motto that if you work hard at anything, it will always come together."
The Porter County Conference junior high champion in seventh grade, Myroup joined sophomore standout Kyleigh Werner on the South Central roster. The duo are serious contenders to finish 1-2 in the PCC meet.
"It's really nice to have another runner on the team who has the same work ethic, who knows what you're going through," Myroup said. "It made me excited to get to high school. It's really been an easy transition. I really like the longer distances. It has more appeal to me."
A top-end student as well, Myroup is active in 4H and also plays basketball. She's aiming to do well against the high caliber of competition in today's New Prairie Invitational and is shooting for a PCC individual title. Long-term, she is focused on earning a college scholarship for running.
"I'm happy with how I've been doing," Myroup said. "Every runner wants to get their time down, no matter what they get. I'm not exactly sure (about the postseason) yet. It'll really help to push myself, (competing) with different runners ... from the bigger schools. It'll be a great experience for my freshman year."
Next season promises to be even better for S.C. with the arrival of Elspeth YoungBrust, who actually beat Myroup in the junior high PCC meet last year.
"Those three are always right there, 1-2-3," coach Werner said. "I tell them I don't care what order they come in, as long as the jersey is the same color. If they stay healthy, we can be a force to be reckoned with."