ATHENS, Ohio — Missions accomplished. Now, on to the next ones.
After graduating at the top of the class from Southern High School in 2013, Kody Wolfe — a three time-state qualifier in both track and cross country — headed to Ohio University to pursue a bachelor’s degree and continue his running career.
Wolfe achieved both goals in his four years at OU, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and competed in over 20 events for the Bobcats in the seasons of cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
Wolfe’s collegiate running career didn’t come without its speed bumps, as injuries held him out of competition in cross country and indoor track his freshman year. After four outdoor track events as a freshman and four cross country races as as a sophomore, Wolfe missed the next 11 months of competition.
“I definitely struggled with injuries quite a bit, especially my freshman and sophomore years,” Wolfe said. “It was a big battle, I had plantar fasciitis in both feet, I had to get shots and go through quite a bit of physical therapy. I went two years without racing seriously, there were a few races, but my freshman and sophomore years were slow.”
With two seasons of injuries, Wolfe’s commitment to his running career didn’t waver, thanks in large part to the tight-knit team at Ohio University.
“I attribute that to the team that I was on at OU,” Wolfe said of what helped him stick with it. “I lived at a house nicknamed ‘The Victorian’, we called ‘The Vic’ on West Union. It had eight bedrooms, every guy in there was on the cross country team and I lived there for two years. It’s pretty easy to get up and run when everyone is.
“It was more like having a really cool group of friends, rather than being a Division I athlete,” Wolfe added. “Our team was super close. Obviously, we had the really nice weight rooms for training, but us living together and hanging out was probably what made it the most worth it.”
In his third year as a Bobcat, Wolfe competed in four cross country events, with his personal-best 8K time of 26:34.6 coming in the All Ohio XC Championships at Cedarville University. In Kody’s final race of his junior cross country season, he finished 96th at the Division I Pre-Nationals.
In his junior season of indoor track, Wolfe ran his best 3K time of 8:45.09 at the Ohio State Invitational. Kody ran a pair of outdoor races in his junior season and started his senior year with three cross country races.
As a senior in cross country, Wolfe was 51st at the Division I Pre-Nationals, and 61st at the All Ohio Championships.
In his final senior season of indoor track, Wolfe posted his best 5K time of 15:34 at the Thundering Herd Invitational hosted by Marshall.
“I started to pick it up and race more often in my junior and senior seasons,” Wolfe said. “I never really hit a good cross country time, it was always not-ideal conditions. Indoor and outdoor track were like offseason sports, they helped us stay with it all year.
“The most exciting races that I competed in with OU were definitely the Pre-Nationals,” Wolfe said. “They were also some of the saddest races for me, because I was always the last person that didn’t make the MAC team. I never competed in the MAC championships, so Pre-Nationals were always my big race at the end of the year. It was really cool, we raced against teams like Oregon, Stanford and Colorado, really big name running schools. It’s a really big NCAA event and it was cool to be there.”
Although his collegiate career is over, Wolfe has no plans to hang up his running shoes, as he is currently training for an Ironman Triathlon.
“My current plan is to run in a half-Ironman this fall, and I want to do a full Ironman in 2018, but that’s tentative,” Wolfe said. “You have to stay in really good health, more than shape, to run an Ironman.”
Wolfe is the event organizer for the John Gray Memorial 5k in Racine, Ohio, which will have its sixth annual race on August 11.
Kody excelled academically at Ohio University, where he worked in a research facility over the summers between his freshman and junior years. Prior to his senior year, Wolfe had a chance to expand his research internationally.
“I asked if they could hook me up with another place to do research and I ended up traveling to Perth, in western Australia, to work at Curtin University for three months last summer,” Wolfe said. “That built my resume up with a ton of research experience. I really like the research, so it just felt right to go on to grad school.”
Wolfe chose Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee, for his grad school, and he will pursue a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. Wolfe begins at Vanderbilt on August 22.
Kody is the son of Joe and BettyAnn Wolfe of Racine.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.