Salem record-setter learned to love running one stride at a time
Long-distance star Kulick primed for spectacular senior season
Believe it or not, the record-setting five-kilometer trailblazer for one of the most-consistently-successful girls cross country teams in the state didn’t always embrace lacing up her shoes and going for a jog.
“When I was younger, I used to not like running at all,” admitted Salem senior Isabell Kulick, who broke Kayla Kavulich’s long-standing school 5K mark when she posted a time of 18 minutes, 12 seconds last fall as a junior. “I started liking it more and more when I got into the competition aspect of it. I enjoyed racing against other people.”
Following a rough sophomore season that was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the revelation that she had an iron deficiency, Kulick bounced back with a bang in 2021, finishing 32nd in the Division 1 state meet, missing out on all-state honors by just two places.
“My goals this year are to run a sub-18-minute time and earn all-state honors,” the soft-spoken Kulick said. “My biggest goal is helping my team do as well as it can in the regionals and at the state meet.”
There are still times, Kulick added, that she doesn’t necessarily feel like heading out for a long training run, but her dedication to her team and sport overcome those feelings.
“When I don’t feel like running for myself, I think of my team, my coaches and my family,” she said. “When I can’t motivate myself, I think of my goals, which I know I won’t reach if I don’t run when I don’t want to run.”
A guard for Salem’s basketball team, Kulick started running for fun for West Middle School’s cross country team.
“The training wasn’t that intense, but I did pretty good in most of the races,” she said. “The main reason I ran was to be with my friends.”
Salem’s strong tradition in girls cross country — the school has qualified for the D1 state meet eight consecutive years — was a motivating factor in her decision to run in high school.
“I had heard from a lot of people about how good Salem was,” she said. “It’s so nice to be on such a super-close team.
“When I was a sophomore, there were two seniors on the team who really inspired me: Reagan Justice and Olivia Nillon. I looked up to them.”
Kulick said she is also inspired by her parents, Shelley and Troy, who attend most, if not all, of her races.
“They’re very hard workers, so they set a good example for myself and my sister,” she said.
The Rocks’ contingent will have even more of a family feel this fall thanks to the addition of Kulick’s sophomore sister, Hannah.
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