Things can change in an instant for a high school athlete, especially if you're talented, dependable and driven.
And so two years ago this may have not been where Biglerville High sophomore Brady Wilt envisioned himself, tearing through regional cross country courses on a weekly basis, but it's where he finds himself today.
The dream used to center around soccer, being able to one day have the opportunity to play for a collegiate program. But coincidentally enough, soccer was the same sport that led him to cross country, where he currently features among the best in his region.
And now, on the verge of his second postseason run, Wilt is considered one of the best runners in the YAIAA. While a league championship may be a tall order -- South Western senior Ryan Hertzog looks to be in line for that award -- most veteran admirers of cross country know that, on race day, anything can happen.
Recently at Carlisle, Wilt broke 17 minutes for the first time in his career, finishing in 16:47.48 as he took home seventh place during the boys' Champions Race at the 20th annual Carlisle Invitational.
Only three runners from last year's league championship, including Hertzog, broke 17 minutes.
So can Wilt contend for the title? And better yet, what's next?
The decision: While many former soccer players are led to cross country by virtue of their quick feet, a large percentage also leave due to their perceived lack of
For those who can't play soccer, it's often said, run.
But that wasn't the case with Wilt, who had all the qualities of a successful soccer player. He was quick, yes, but he had the proper touch on the ball and he had a nose for the goal.
"I have played soccer since I was 5-years-old," Wilt said. "I always thought the dream was to go on and play college soccer. That was always in the back of my head."
By his eighth-grade year, though, he had to make a decision. By that time, the word was out on Wilt anyway -- he was highly successful in summer road races and often placed or won his age divisions.
Would he play soccer, or would he run cross country? Ultimately, it wasn't a suggestion from a parent, a teacher, or even the cross country coach.
What finally led Wilt to the sport were his peers. They saw the diminutive harrier flying around the field without as much as breaking a sweat. He outran even the most fit midfielders.
"Kids were really telling me to run," Wilt said. "At the time I didn't know what it was. I didn't know it was a sport. But by my freshman year, kids were pushing me to run."
"On the night when I had to make a decision my freshman year, it was weighing on my mind so much," Wilt added. "I had two roads to take, a right or a left turn. I chose to go left."
The postseason awaits: As with most young runners, the plan has been to take it slow with Wilt.
The sophomore said he added about 15 miles to his training program per week over the summer -- up to around 60 miles -- to better prepare for the season.
He also worked with New Oxford head coach Colby Frantz and went to a camp at Shippensburg University to work with well-known Red Raiders coach Steve Spence.
"I've taken in all the advice and I've used it," Wilt said.
That added mileage has strengthened his legs, but more importantly, it has given him a higher lactate threshold in races.
And now, the payoff is being seen in the results. The Carlisle time was another indication that he has been improving, but two weeks prior, Wilt scored another personal record at Big Spring, when he placed third at the Bulldog Invite with 17:02.58.
As Wilt heads into the YAIAA Championships on Tuesday, eyes will be focused on the runner in the black and gold singlet.
He finished eighth a year ago with a time of 17:18.2, but five seniors ahead of him have graduated, leaving the sophomore with a chance to do something great.
"I look at it as an opportunity," Wilt said. "It's more of an opportunity than anything."