Ethan Leonard followed around teammates Dylan Schaefer and John Starkey for his first two year high school seasons in cross country.
Now the Chaska junior is the leader of the pack.
A second top-30 finish in a highly competitive meet has Leonard, or as teammates refer to him as "SMB" (state-meet bound), raising his goals for 2019.
"I'm just try to replicate what they did for me," said Leonard of Schaefer and Starkey. "They were real big role models for me. I'm just trying to lead them hopefully in the right direction."
"My goal, hopefully in the 16s, at least. Get to state, close at least," he added.
Leonard was 30th out of a large field of 862 athletes from 39 different teams at the St. Olaf High School Invitational in late August. His time of 17:07.8.
On Sept. 5 running in a field of 151 participants at Gale Woods Farm in Minnetrista, Leonard dropped two seconds at 17:05.5 for 24th place in the Bauman Rovn Invitational.
"I'm feeling good. I was well prepared by my coaches going in day and day out with all of my workouts. I feel like they're really pushing me, doing what's best for me," Leonard said.
With 25 runners competing at the 5,000-meter distance, Chaska was 15th with a score of 369. Eden Prairie won the meet with 61 points.
Nolan Sutter moved up to 67th place in 18:11.3 followed by seniors Derek Wendland and Tyler Scherbing in top-100 finishes in times of 18:54.4 and 19:03.8.
Senior Andrew Grover had the fifth-fastest time for Chaska in 19:16.7.
Four of the top-six times from the Hawk girls line-up came from seventh- and eighth-grade classes. In total, Chaska had 13 female runners in the field.
Gabrielle Bjugan (24:11.7), Amanda Siemienas (24:47.6) and Lillie Powell (24:57.6) all competed in the varsity race, while Adonai Yidnekachew had the fastest time on JV in 25:36.
Seniors Kate Perrill and Brianna Loosbrock ran first and fourth for Chaska in times of 24 minutes and 24:52.6.
The Sept. 5 meet was run under warm and humid atmosphere, the sun reappearing just in time for the varsity races.
"Now, it's definitely tough. Today it was in the 80s and come section time it's down in the 40s. So you have to really adjust to the temp," Leonard said.
Chaska competes in the Metro Invite at Round Lake Park in Eden Prairie on Saturday, Sept. 14. JV races begin at 9:30 a.m. with varsity races at 10:40 and 11:10 a.m.