Madison Central's Conner O'Shea really wasn't getting that much interest from college coaches during the early part of his junior season.

That changed when he started posting very impressive results.

It began when O'Shea took the title against a tough field at the Lexington Catholic Invitational at the Horse Park.

"That's when schools really started to look at him and he started believing in himself," Central cross country coach James Mutuse said.

A month later, he claimed the KHSSA Region 7 title and then went on to finish 13th at the 2018 Class 3A Meet.

In November, he took first place in the junior race at the Foot Locker Cross Country South Regional.

"You have to find something you like," Mutuse said. "If you work for it, you will get it."

O'Shea got contacted by plenty of college coaches after that high-profile victory.

The Central standout had interest from Bellarmine University, East Tennessee State, Belmont and Lipscomb, among others.

O'Shea, though, signed a national letter of intent earlier this month to join the cross country team at East Carolina University.

"ECU was always on my list," O'Shea said. "It was somewhere I always thought would be nice."

O'Shea said he was impressed the program, campus and overall atmosphere when he visited the school, which is located in Greenville, N.C.

"I just liked the feel of the town," O'Shea said. "It reminded me of Richmond. I liked the size of the school. I wasn't looking for a big school and I wanted to go away for school. So, it was a good fit for me."

East Carolina was among the first schools to show serious interest in O'Shea.

That enthusiasm grew as he continued to rack up big-time victories.

"Other schools wanted him, but it's an economic supply-and-demand situation," Mutuse said. "When you want something, you have to be willing to pay for it. They offered him about a 90 percent scholarship. After he won the region, they went to 95 percent. The day he won the state, they called him and told him it was 100 percent. And that's a no-brainer."

That full-scholarship offer came just hours after the senior won the Class 3A State Championship.

O'Shea did not lose an in-state race during his final high school season.

He capped the year by teaming with his younger sister, Ciara, to sweep the state championships. They are the first siblings to win KHSAA state championships in the same season.

"It was sensational," Mutuse said of his senior season.

O'Shea will try to cap a great senior season today at the Foot Locker South Regional in Charlotte, N.C.

"It's what you train for," O'Shea said. "It just shows that hard work pays off."

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