CALUMET TOWNSHIP | It took Calumet senior Andrew Huff time to find himself.
He ran track in the seventh grade, played baseball in eighth grade, basketball from grades six to 11, football his freshman year, tennis his sophomore year and gave cross country a try last year.
Bingo. Huff found his true calling.
He earned Greater South Shore Conference second-team honors and a light bulb went off.
"I'm pretty decent at running. Why not concentrate on that and reach for the stars?" he said.
"Later in my life, if I have a son or I live close to Calumet, I can tell them don't make the same mistake," he said. "Yeah, it ticks me off that I did."
Huff made up for lost time by logging 50 to 60 miles a week this summer. He's up to 70 and often starts from Black Oak and runs to Merrillville on the bike trail.
"Cross country is a sport where you need the will power, the heart and the work ethic," Huff said. "I want to give teams a good image of what Calumet should be like."
The Warriors have seven kids out. They're young but Huff likes their spirit, their potential, and calls them "the future" of the program.
"I'm confident I'm giving them a good mindset," he said. "I'm trying to open a door to success but I'm going to have to hit everything this year as hard as I can -- school work, my job."
Huff's personal bests are 4:57 for the mile, 10:55 for the two mile and 17:59 for 3.1 miles. As a seventh grader, he ran 5:35 at a middle school meet and coach Rob Lukowski began recruiting him on the spot.
Not until last cross country season, did Huff join up.
"When I step to the line, I'm saying to myself: 'How bad do you want it?' All through the race, it's a mind game," he said. "Sometimes, I'm in tears (at the finish) because I ran so hard, so well."
The oldest of five children has all the motivation he needs under one roof.
"Maybe one day, they'll say: 'My brother was awesome!' That would be cool," said Huff, who has a 3.5 GPA.
"There's a lot to be said for experience and he doesn't have the race experience," Lukowski noted. "But on the flipside, there's a lot to be said for work volume. It can take you a long way in one season. I think it's going to take him a long way.
"Our goal is semistate. That would be a great season for him. And I think he's got an outside shot at being a state qualifier."