Stepping Up and Stepping Forward

Senior Tyler Wolfe has competed on the ACHS cross country team for four years and is hoping to run his final lap down at the state meet.
Stepping Up and Stepping Forward

Senior Tyler Wolfe enters his final year of running competitively, closing off a seven-year career. Wolfe is starting the 2023 cross country season stronger and more confident than ever. This is Wolfe’s third year participating on the varsity team. However, this is his first as one of the team’s captains. Wolfe was selected alongside senior Carter Webb and junior Griffin Freeman. 

“Tyler is definitely one of the leaders on the team, he can lead by example, by the things he does, and he says,” Assistant Coach Ryan Hlinak said. “He’s a huge part of our team this year going forward.” 

Wolfe is not new to the captain position, as he was selected as one of the track and field captains during his junior year. Wolfe made it to the IHSA 3A Boys State Track & Field Championships as part of the 4×400 meter relay team. However, making it to the state championship for cross country with the entire varsity team presents a significant challenge that Wolfe aims to navigate the team through this season. 

“I want to get top two in the conference and qualify for [the] state [meet] as a team because that is something that we have never done before,” Wolfe said. 

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Qualifying for the state meet is important to both head Coach Christopher Bailey and Hlinak and the rest of the team. Since the team fell just short of qualifying last year, they felt a taste of what they need to strive for. Wolfe understands that he needs to step up in order to bring the team down to state in November. He has built up his confidence, and now he understands that he can push himself and the rest of the team this season to help reach this goal.

“[Wolfe] motivates me to push myself harder, a lot during workouts, long-distance runs, and races,” senior teammate Cole Loiacano said.

Not only is Wolfe working on his leadership to help push others, but he is also pushing himself to the position necessary to qualify for the state championship. Wolfe has been training vigorously in the off-season to prepare for his final year. Starting his junior cross country season, Wolfe felt less prepared due to an injury he faced at the end of his sophomore year track and field season. 

“I had a stress fracture in my foot, with two weeks left in the track season of sophomore year, and I was out for the rest of that season,” Wolfe said. “Then I had to do physical therapy basically all summer, so I could not run until the last week of summer before the season started. I did not have a base built for cross country, so I did not have that great of a cross country season last year.” 

Wolfe has strength from his physical training and has experienced massive growth as an athlete during his four years here. Hlinak describes Wolfe’s transformation from a regular freshman to one of the most crucial parts of the team. The cross country coaches are not alone in understanding this massive growth, as Loiacano agrees that a good deal of progress has been made.

“[Freshman year], he was just doing the bare minimum, and I think he grew into a good cross country runner and a good athlete, as well as a good leader,” Loiacano said. “He really wanted to try and improve himself as well as the people around him.”

Motivation can be found in different places, but Wolfe’s motivation derives from his family’s support. Wolfe credits his success to his parent’s constant support throughout his cross country career, a sport new to his family.

“None of my family is into running,” Wolfe said. “So it is new for them but they are all very supportive.” 

Just as Wolfe puts in the work daily at practice, school is no different. He understands what it takes to be a well-rounded athlete and knows that succeeding in school is just as important as succeeding in cross country meets. Participation in multiple clubs, such as NHS, demonstrates his academic mindset, and by filling his schedule with rigorous courses, including classes from the AP catalog, he sets an example for his teammates. This year, Coach Hlinak will witness this himself in class.

“[Tyler Wolfe] is in my AP Stats class, which is a really tough course,” Coach Hlinak said. “Obviously, he is up for the challenge of an AP course load. I am pretty excited to see how he will do this year.” 

Wolfe has an outline set for himself post-high school, including a goal of getting into Marquette University to study physical therapy. As of the fall, Wolfe has no plans of running in college, but he has not completely ruled out this option. Even if Wolfe ends his athletic career, he would still continue staying active and use his background as an athlete to motivate his interest in physical therapy. 

“I have always known I wanted to help people, and I have always known I wanted to do something related with sports because I love sports,” Wolfe said. “After my injury and doing physical therapy, I realized that is what I want to do.” 

Although Wolfe’s career is coming to a close this fall, he is willing to go all out to lead the Sequoits to the state championship. Wolfe aims to beat his personal best time and end his career positively, leaving a lasting legacy on the cross country program. Wolfe and his fellow seniors also look forward to running their favorite courses one last time. Tyler considers the cross country team to be more than a team: it’s like a family.

“My teammates are some of my best friends throughout high school,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe has grown not only as an athlete but as a leader and he hopes to demonstrate this one last cross country season. You can catch Tyler Wolfe running his final laps at our home course at Tim Osmond Park or down at the state meet in Peoria, IL.

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Tyler Miller
Tyler Miller, Tom Tom Staff

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