October 1, 2022 | Local News, Youth
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Cross country student athletes of St. Mary of the Woods School in Whitesville. COURTESY OF ANNA MCDANIEL

Whitesville’s Angels inspired, encouraged by cross country wins


On Saturday, August 27, St. Mary of the Woods School’s middle school boys’ cross country team placed second out of nine teams at the Madisonville Classic.

Two weeks later, on Saturday, Sept. 10, the team placed fourth out of 19 teams at Hardin County’s Fairground Frenzy.

The boys shared that when they began running, some of them thought it was just “basketball conditioning.” Now they are starting to see they can win.

“We spent all last season tracking personal goals,” explained the Angels’ coach Kristen Mikulcik. “We knew the team was improving, but there hadn’t been a lot of recognition.”

This is Mikulcik’s second year coaching cross country with Nick Howard at St. Mary of the Woods and Trinity High School in Whitesville.

“It felt good,” the middle school boys explained when asked about their team’s second-place victory at the Madisonville Classic. “We had no idea we were going to win.”

The boys were nearly as surprised two weeks later when St. Mary of the Woods placed at Hardin County’s Fairground Frenzy.

“Building muscles takes time,” said Mikulcik. “The team has been working hard and we are finally seeing the results.”

Kristen Mikulcik and Nick Howard, the cross country coaches for St. Mary of the Woods School, meet with several student athletes at a recent meet. COURTESY OF ANNA MCDANIEL

Grant Howard, who has been leading the team from the start, says he now has his eyes set on coming in first. Individually, Grant placed second at the Madisonville Classic, coming in only 7 seconds behind Daviess County’s lead runner. At the Fairgrounds Frenzy, he placed sixth out of 169 runners.

“Grant is a true leader,” said Mikulcik. “Not only is he a talented runner. He models good practice, and his teammates follow.”

Thomas Payne has also made a significant contribution to the team, placing 10th at Madisonville and 16th in Hardin County. Thomas said, “I’m so glad to see the team improve.”

Thomas’s attitude is shared by his teammates who make a genuine effort to encourage one another.

The elementary, middle and high school runners from St. Mary of the Woods, Mary Carrico Catholic School in Knottsville, and Trinity High School consider themselves to be three parts of one team.

“It’s great to see the middle school perform so well,” said Mikulcik, “but next year, they will move on to the high school and we will need elementary runners to take their place. It generally takes at least a couple years of training to be competitive in cross country.”

The elementary runners follow an abbreviated practice schedule, competing mostly in local 1K races, plus, they have the opportunity to attend 2-3 larger meets.

The male cross country athletes of St. Mary of the Woods School show off their trophy after a recent win. COURTESY OF ANNA MCDANIEL

Anna McDaniel serves as director of advancement and admissions for St. Mary of the Woods School and Trinity High School in Whitesville.

Originally printed in the October 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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