Runner Victor Others has had a few challenges adjusting to college life this school year.
Yet he's already managed to compete in a pair of national championships. And the 18-year-old, who hails from Ponca City, Oklahoma, is hoping to soon compete in yet another national meet.
Others, who has Ponca and Comanche ancestry, is a freshman on an athletic scholarship at Cowley County Community College, a junior college located in Arkansas City, Kansas.
Though some bigger schools had also expressed interest in Others, he opted for Cowley, in large part because the school is located a mere 30 minutes from his home.
"I just wanted to stay as close to home as I could," he said. "I know when I get older I'll be going further from home."
Others is enrolled in Cowley's two-year mass communications program. He's hoping to land another scholarship, from a Division I university, after his stint at Cowley. If as expected he also runs for the Kansas junior college next year, then he would have two more seasons of university running eligibility remaining.
Others began his Cowley running career last fall with its cross-country running team. That squad ended up winning the team title this past November at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I National Championships, which were held in the South Carolina city of Spartanburg.
Though his team won the national crown, Others did not fare that well in the eight-kilometre race. He finished in 239th place.
"I was lucky to finish," he said. "My legs couldn't run that day."
After his cross-country running season was complete, Others then turned his attention to Cowley's indoor track and field team.
He had several respectable showings there. And he also qualified for three events at the indoor nationals, which were held Mar. 4-5 in Lubbock, Texas.
Others participated in three events at these nationals. His best result was his 10th-place finish in his 5,000-metre run.
Others was not pleased with that performance though or his time of 15 minutes and 55 seconds.
"If I had run my personal best (15:13), I would have placed fifth," he said. "I just had another bad day."
Others also competed in the one-mile run, where he finished 12th, and the 3,000-metre event, where he placed 16th.
As for the outdoor season, Others' first meet will be this Thursday, at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.
He's hoping his year will conclude with another nationals appearance. The outdoor nationals are scheduled for May 19-21 in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Others said college life has not led to some ideal running conditions for him. He's put on 22 pounds since coming to Cowley and now weighs the heaviest he's ever been, 142 pounds.
Others attributes this to the fact he comes from an impoverished family.
"My parents don't work and we survived on food stamps," he said, adding food was scarce in his household, which included four siblings, his grandfather and a couple of cousins.
At Cowley, however, where he has a free, all-you-can-eat meal plan, Others never has to worry about where his next meal is coming from.
"I eat three meals a day now," he said. "And I eat seconds a lot. I eat a lot of food."
Vince DeGrado, Cowley's head cross-country running coach and assistant track and field coach, is doing his best to keep Others heading in the right direction in terms of his running career.
"There's been a huge learning curve with him," DeGrado said. "It's been tough. I've had to break a lot of his habits. And it's still a work in progress."
DeGrado's biggest challenge? Convincing Others he needs to consistently train.
"In high school he was able to get away with his raw talent," he said. "But he can't do that here against kids who are training all the time."
Others realizes he has plenty of work to do.
"When I get my weight down, I'll be running some really fast times," he said. And he realizes he'll have to continue making a name for himself, especially if he wishes to garner a Division I scholarship.
"This summer is going to be so huge for training for me," he said. Others is also hoping to eventually make a career out of running.
"If everything goes right, and I focus on getting my weight down, I think I can have a good chance to go pro," he said.