A freshman isn't supposed to be vital piece of a state championship team. There are too many other athletes that have been on the team longer.
But when you have results like Mount Greylock's Matt Wiseman did throughout the season, it's impossible to keep him off the course at the most important time.
"He made an enormous jump [from last year], and honestly he's still so young that it's really hard to say what he's going to do in the future," senior Will Kirby said. "But he's in an awesome spot right now."
Where is that? How about 13th at the MIAA state Nordic championships. Considering he was racing junior varsity last year, Kirby's compliment almost doesn't do Wiseman justice.
Perhaps that's because he had prior knowledge of how far Wiseman had come.
"There was a workout two weeks ago and he skied up with me and Alex [White], and just to have the heart to do that ..." Kirby said. "If he takes that through to summer training and everything, he's going to be really good."
Entering his first season on the varsity, Wiseman wasn't sure how he'd stack up. He set a goal of finishing in the top 20. Seems lofty on face value, but a glance at his first varsity result -- an eighth-place finish -- and it's obvious he was selling himself short.
He quickly re-evaluated his goals and challenged himself to do it again. He did, finishing sixth. Just two races into his varsity skiing career and he was already establishing himself as one of the county's best.
Through the final two league races, he continued to place in the top 10, finishing seventh and 10th.
So what made the difference from the end of his freshman year to the beginning of his sophomore?
"I trained harder and set my goals to do well this season," he said simply, adding he improved "everything" in his technique.
The one specific change he said he made was positioning his hands higher before poling. It allowed him to generate more power.
That may have solved the physical hole in his skiing, but senior Sean Houston thinks the mental one had as much to do with his success.
"At the beginning of the year, I feel like he maybe thought me, Alex and Will and Jonah [Majumder] were another step ahead of him," Houston said. "But once he got on the skis, he realized that he can keep up with us and that just totally made him better. He's gotten his fitness down and he's going to be one hell of a skier his senior year."
There wasn't one person on the team he didn't impress with his performances throughout the season. For some it was fun to watch the transition he made and how it corresponded to the one he made in school.
"I'll tell you, last year, Matt, he was a little middle-schooler, kind of immature to be honest," Majumder said. "He's going to be an amazing skier in the next few years, possibly even beyond that."
It's obvious he'll be a factor for the next three seasons. What isn't certain is just how much more progress he'll make.
Like the combinations of Josh Harrington and Luke Costley in 2011-12 and Kirby and White this season, he'll have someone to push him. Sophomore Jake Foehl, who had a tremendous showing at states finishing 15th, will be around for the next two seasons. The two will be able to battle for the top spot each day.
"Unlike me, Matt has some experience coming into the program, and he's really grown physically and mentally as a skier," Foehl said. "He's very fast, and I think me and him will just feed off each other these next few years and try and do this again next year."
Foehl may have a hard time keeping pace in a year or two, though.
"He's faster than anybody I remember being at his age," Kirby said. "He's significantly faster than I was. He's significantly faster than Josh Harrington was at that age, so it's really impressive."