John Sharpe couldn't help himself. After all, it was his grandson's first road race and even though Nolan Swanson was barely in his teens he was running like a seasoned veteran. The young man was clearly the class of his age group. Seizing the opportunity as grandparents are known to do, Sharpe approached another man standing nearby and said proudly as Nolan ran by, "That's my grandson and he's going to the states some day." Not missing a beat, Sharpe's newfound friend responded, "I hope so." The friend was none other than Arden Downey, the Sherman Central School cross country coach, who, unbeknownst to Sharpe, had already been working with the precocious Swanson.
As predictions go, Sharpe was right on the mark, as his grandson went on to the cross country states four times during his high school career, ultimately winning the Class C-D title as a senior. And that was only the beginning for Swanson in what has turned into a fabulous running career that has taken him from high school phenom, to college All-American and, ultimately, to one of the top middle distance runners in the United States.