Jim Clarius went to a middle school track meet and cleaned up. He raced most of the other kids in his Marston neighborhood and beat all of them.
After that, no one had to tell him he was born to run.
Clarius packed the bats, balls, gloves and footballs away and became one of the most feared high school cross country runners in Carroll County.
He was good enough to draw attention from Frostburg State and Mount St. Mary's after his junior year at South Carroll.
The slenderly built athlete then transferred to Francis Scott Key for his senior year and won the state 1A meet over the Western Maryland College course.
After that performance, there was no way Green Terrors cross country coach Doug Renner was going to let Clarius get away.
Renner didn't exactly have to twist Clarius' arm to stay near his home.
"I'd been coming to camps like Art Monk's football camp at Western Maryland all the time as a kid," Clarius said. "I liked it here. But the main thing isn't running. It's the liberal arts school they have here. I live at home, but I make sure I don't miss out on any of the activities."
Clarius is the sports editor of the school newspaper.
But he hasn't had to write any stories about himself yet.
That day may soon come if he keeps improving as he did from his first to second meet.
In his first collegiate outing, Clarius finished 19th out of 60 runners over a tough 5.2-mile course in a 12-team Montgomery-Rockville Invitational meet.
The next time out, he ran sixth out of 60 in a 12-team Howard Community College Invitational over 5.3 miles.
So much for Renner's worries about Clarius' ability to adjust to the longer collegiate courses from the 3-mile high school runs.
"I've surprised myself," Clarius said. "During the first meet, it didn't feel like that much of a difference to me. The practices had me prepared. My legs started bothering me at the end of both races, so I jogged and stretched out after the race was over."
Clarius has established himself as the No. 2 runner on the Western Maryland team, behind junior Derek Johnston, who won the Howard Invitational and finished fourth in the Montgomery-Rockville run.
The Western Maryland team finished fourth in both meets.
Renner said, "I'm excited about this group. I think both Jim and Tim [Collins, a freshman from Broadneck] enjoy not being the top runner on the team like they were in high school. They don't have as much pressure to win."
For now, Clarius will settle for being No. 2.
"Derek challenges me," he said. "He's an exceptional runner. I'm striving to get up to his level."
Yes, Jim Clarius was born to run.