MERRILLVILLE | Pat Musgrave and Blaine Wolf didn't like each other their freshman year at Andrean.
Their fiercely competitive nature put them at each other's throats, literally.
"We met in freshman track. I didn't like him and he didn't like me very much," Musgrave recalled.
"Hated him. He actually hit me, in the face," Wolf said.
"Before practice one day, he was making me mad," Musgrave explained. "Thing is, we hated each other but we were lifting partners and pushed each other in workouts. We refused to lose to each other."
Out of mutual admiration and respect, the two eventually became best buds.
"Be a Niner!" they'll shout in tight races.
"We can fire each other up when we need to," Musgrave said.
"Our first couple of years, we were training partners. The intensity was unmatched," Wolf said.
That still holds true today. If both are near the front of the pack late in a race, it often becomes a sprint to the finish between the two.
Musgrave's cross country career has seen dramatic improvement each year from an 18:42 as a freshman, to 17:01 his sophomore year, 16:23 last season and a personal-best 16:16 at present.
Wolf's PR is 16:15.
"I've always hated losing. I still do," Wolf said. "I want to be the best."
Added Musgrave: "My dad describes (Wolf) as a survivor. He's one of those kids who finds a way."
Asked if cross country would be fun without Musgrave on the team, Wolf replied: "Fun? Maybe. Successful? No."
The feeling is mutual with Musgrave.
"I think Blaine and I, together, have turned the program around. And I hope we've passed the torch to the younger generations," Musgrave said of Andrean's underclassmen.
Both hope to lead the 59ers to a state finals berth at today's New Prairie Semistate, where the top six teams and 15 individuals advance.
Following in their footsteps are teammates Lucas Kalbfell (16:44), Nick Janiga (16:54), Jeff Gough (16:55), Jack Musgrave (17:02), Justin Anderson (17:02), Zach Phillips (17:02) and Nick DeMass (17:21).
"Pat is a four-year member and has always been the kind of guy who overachieves," coach Rick Torres said. "Everything he's got, he's had to work for and he's earned every bit of it, and that includes his academics where he's excelled beyond belief.
"Blaine played football for two years but realized he wasn't going to grow any more. His intensity is what got him by as a football player. We thought if he brought some of that swagger over to us, it would turn us around.
"Him, coupled with Pat, has turned our program around," Torres said.