NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Anthony Didion was in first grade when he decided he wanted to be like mom.
Michelle Didion was a marathoner, and a competitive one at that, full of ambition and drive.
"She's like that idol status you want to hit when you get older," said Didion, now a senior on the Belmont men's cross country team.
But it was a number of years before Michelle's son unlocked that same potential within himself. An all-around athlete in little LaPorte, Ind., near Lake Michigan's southeastern shore, Didion recognized there was a common thread among all varied athletic successes.
"I realized I was good at all the sports I played because I could run fast and I was good at running," Didion recalled this week after a Bruins practice session. "Cross country has always been that thing in the background."
Just before entering LaPorte High, Didion dedicated himself to running, finding his best training partner in his mother. As he added weekly mileage, he cut seconds and full minutes from his times and eventually earned team MVP honors for his work in cross country and track and field.
While on a run with a former high school teammate and then Bruins standout Matt Miller in the summer of 2013, Belmont first entered his radar. Miller praised the coaching staff and gave a glowing review of his time in Nashville after transferring from University of South Alabama.
Didion liked what he heard. The next day, the Fourth of July, his phone rang. Longtime Belmont head coach Jeff Langdon was on the other end.
"From there it was all just rolling downhill," said Didion, a rising senior in high school at the time who is now studying general management at Belmont. "He told me all about the team and the environment we'd have. It just sounded contagious, like something I wanted to be involved in."
Four years later, Didion has helped the Bruins cross country program rise to prominence in the Ohio Valley Conference with a pair of individual top-30 finishes at the OVC Championships and two appearances at the NCAA South Region meet.
But he's not done yet. Now in his final season with the Bruins, Didion doesn't believe he's fully reached his potential. So how fast can he truly be?
"That question is something that has still yet to be answered because you can always go a little faster, you can always put in a little more work," Didion said. "That's just the driving force of why I keep going."
The Bruins head out for their second race of the fall Saturday at the Vanderbilt-hosted Commodore Opener at Percy Warner Park in Nashville. The men hit the course at 9 a.m. with the women to follow at 10 a.m.