The first time Tim Rose crossed paths with Scott Bahrke, college wasn't the topic of discussion.
Running, however, has remained a constant thread in their relationship from the beginning.
Introduced to one another at the Riverbend Rally 5K in Iowa Falls a couple years ago, the two will rejoin in Orange City this fall when Rose continues his running career at Northwestern College.
South Hardin senior Tim Rose, left, signed his National Letter of Intent to Northwestern College back in February. Rose, who is pictured here with Red Raider coach Scott Bahrke will compete in cross county and track and field.
The South Hardin senior and seven-time letterwinner signed his letter of intent with the NAIA school on Feb. 17 and will run for Bahrke as a member of both the Red Raider cross country and track & field squads.
While college choice didn't come up in their first encounter, it became a point of discussion soon enough as Bahrke started talking about the future with Rose following his junior year.
Rose, a four-time most valuable runner for the Tigers, looked at several other schools including Grand View, Coe, Drake, Iowa State, UNI and Wartburg - but in his mind there was always just one.
"I really never seriously looked anywhere but Northwestern," said Rose, who visited campus twice and felt a strong connection upon meeting several of his future teammates. "I got along with the other guys well. I liked the college and they have a good program that is on the rise. There's a lot of younger runners there that can help me and we can make a difference right away hopefully."
Bahrke, who was previously a coach and teacher in Rose's hometown of Iowa Falls, sees plenty of potential in the senior Tiger.
"I think he'll fight for a varsity spot on a pretty talented cross country team," Bahrke said. "We've got a pretty tough conference in the NAIA. We're looking for quite a few people to return but we're missing a couple seniors so we're hoping Tim can fill that vacancy."
The Red Raiders are coming off a school-best fifth-place finish at last year's Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Championships and just three of their top-10 runners graduated from that unit. Rose holds the South Hardin 5K school record of 16:01 and was set for his second straight trip to the state meet last fall before injury and illness halted his progress.
The Tiger standout has also excelled on the track where he holds the program's top times in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Rose placed fourth in the 1,600 at Drake Stadium last spring and also qualified in the 3,200.
Bahrke is excited to see that versatility translate to the college level.
"On the track he's a pretty valuable weapon for us," Bahrke said. "He can run the 800 all the way up until the 5K and maybe even the 10K. He's pretty gifted in that way."
Rose, who plans to major in athletic training and potentially move on to physical therapy afterward, still has one race he holds dear the mile.
And whether it's the mile indoors or the 1,500 outdoors, Rose will have plenty of opportunities to take on his middle-distance specialty on the oval.
"He really has a passion for doing well in the mile and kind of attacking that race," Bahrke said. "He'll have good guys to train with quality, young Christian men. I think that part appealed to him also and I know our guys are super excited to have him joining our crew next year."
Entering his final season on the track at South Hardin, Rose has already gotten a sneak peek at what awaits him next year as he watched the Red Raiders compete at Wartburg in January.
And just as Rose is eager to compete at the next level, the Red Raiders are eager to add another strong runner to their team.
"It's kind of cool to see the friendships already being built," Bahrke said. "Tim is a very talented and driven young man. We're super excited to have him join us."