EUREKA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Charlie Bardwell’s journey to his final state cross country meet started inconspicuously.

“When I joined cross country, I was doing it to get into shape for basketball,” Bardwell said with a smile. “Now I don’t play basketball because I’m focused on cross country.”

The Eureka High School senior comes into Saturday’s state cross country meet after winning the class 1A sectional at Elmwood last weekend.

However, cross country isn’t the only thing on Bardwell’s mind. The honor roll student is a Eureka mentor, working with students at the middle school in the district.

And as a member of Eureka’s National Honor Society, he’ll help host a breakfast for veterans on Veteran’s Day. He’s one of the top student volunteers in school.

“This year he kind of freed up his schedule to have time to go where he is needed,” said Eureka cross country coach Olivia Morris. “He is not afraid to volunteer himself, helping in positions that need help. That’s who Charlie Bardwell, is.”

Bardwell says he’s living up to a family tradition.

“I’ve always wanted to serve in my community. You just want to give back,” Bardwell said. “Having two older sisters who were both president of student council, involved in so much stuff, I wanted to follow in their shoes.”

Recently, he represented Eureka High in a student-leader conference where he learned about how teens can be better prepared to face challenges inside and outside school.

“I went to one on substance abuse and technology,” said Bardwell. “We take that information and help apply it to our schools.”

Bardwell is leading his class in the hallways. Saturday he hopes to lead his team to a state trophy at Detweiller Park.