East Henderson sophomore Tanis Baldwin was already a young runner with a lot of promise.
It all came out at Saturday's NCHSAA 3-A cross-country meet.
Baldwin ran the course at Beeson Park in 15 minutes, 28.30 seconds to collect his first career state championship.
Hayesville senior Dylan Johnson delivered in his role as the pre-meet favorite in 1-A, also capturing his first title (15:59.93).
Both were personal-record times for the duo.
"I was expecting a good race, but I certainly wasn't expecting to win by any means at all," Baldwin said.
"It's started to sink in a little bit. But before that, it was something I just couldn't get in my brain."
Baldwin said he broke away about midway through the 3.1-mile race. However, there was some uneasiness that came with carrying the lead.
"I was a little scared," Baldwin said.
"I thought for sure that they were going to catch back up to me but it never happened."
Baldwin won the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference and 3-A Western Regional meets last month. The time he ran Saturday was the second-fastest of any runner in any of the four NCHSAA classifications.
Johnson was also a conference champion in the Smoky Mountain 1-A and took top honors at the 1-A Western Regional meet.
He shot to the front of the pack in the first 200 meters and then held on. The runner-up in the boys 1-A race was Robbinsville's Frank Cline (16:10.21).
"I'm pretty happy with breaking 16 minutes for the first time," Johnson said.
"I wanted to get the lead early and then stretch it out. It's pretty great (to be state champion)."
The championships for Baldwin and Johnson are especially notable since no WNC individual or team came home with one from the 2011 NCHSAA meet.
Along with the two state champs, seven other local runners earned all-state recognition Saturday by placing in the top 10 of their races.
First in girls, the all-state runners in 4-A were Reynolds' Anna Vess (sixth place, 18:07.16) and Larissa Wood (seventh, 18:08.27) and Roberson's Brooke Gordon (ninth, 18:14.92). Robbinsville's Shawnda Martin (sixth, 19:38.26) was all-state in 1-A.
As for the boys, Brevard's Tommy Connell (eighth place, 16:37.41) was an all-state runner in 2-A. Cline and Mitchell's Zach Boone (fourth, 16:31.02) were on the 1-A team.
Even though 67 WNC teams have won state titles since the sport was sanctioned by the NCHSAA in 1956, none took the top prize Saturday.
The Mitchell boys (1-A) and Pisgah girls (2-A) placed an area-best fifth in their respective classifications.