Aside from teammate Seamus Russell’s late-season charge this past cross country campaign, Will Faulk has been all alone out front for most of his prep running career at St. Bernard, especially on the track.
Over the course of his relatively short three-year stint in track and field, the Saint senior managed to rack up eight gold medals, one silver and one bronze — in just 12 state races. Nearly two weeks ago in Selma, he successfully defended his titles in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs to join Athens Bible’s Jeff Harwell (1984-85) as the only Class 1A male athletes to sweep the three distance events two years in a row.
But now, as he prepares to add high school to the growing list of items in his rear-view mirror, Faulk is ready to take his talents to the next level. This upcoming fall, the quiet kid who has done all his talking on the trail and track will make his way to Birmingham-Southern College, where he recently accepted an academic scholarship and offer to continue his running career.
After being in a class of his own during his days at St. Bernard, Faulk can’t wait to be a part of a Panther program filled with runners just as fast as he is.
“I’m excited because it shows all my hard work has paid off. It wasn’t for nothing,” he said of his commitment. “I’m hoping I can do good things both academically and athletically. I’m excited to see where I can go.”
Based on Faulk’s rapid progression up the prep ranks, the only place Saint coach William Calvert can see the senior going is up.
Faulk came equipped with a great deal of endurance from the get-go, but he had to develop the strength and speed it takes to be a champion. That grueling process didn’t turn out to be much of an issue for the teenager, though, who Calvert said he often noticed hitting St. Bernard’s expansive trails even on the weekends.
“I’ve coached people with as much talent — probably more — but I’ve never coached anybody with as consistent of a work ethic as Will Faulk,” Calvert said. “I don’t think I have. Maybe Ginger Holt, but that’s a pretty high class. He’s goal-oriented, and he understands the process of what it takes to accomplish those goals. That’s rare in a young person.”
One of Faulk’s most memorable races as a Saint was his last.
While the 800-meter run was only Donoho’s George McMillan’s second event of the weekend, it was Faulk’s fourth. Despite already roping in two individual titles and a relay championship, the St. Bernard star still had just enough gas in the tank to overtake Mcmillan at the start of the second lap and stave off multiple challenges the rest of the way to the finish line.
“He used to think he didn’t have much speed, but if you ask somebody about Will Faulk across the state, they would say, ‘That guy’s fast,’” Calvert said. “The last race he won was a heckuva run. That was one great test of fortitude that Will passed.”
In addition to the reputation Faulk’s earned as a fierce competitor, he’s also garnered attention from coaches, runners and parents across Alabama for his his ability to win with grace. Calvert could go on for days about Faulk as a runner, but it’s how the senior has conducted himself as a young man that’s made the coach prouder than ever of the student-athlete’s college opportunity.
“This is what we’re about here at St. Bernard, it’s part of our philosophy of what we teach,” Calvert said. “I love running, and I love it when an athlete continues that after high school. I want them to have a good taste in their mouth about running and want to continue. When any of our students go on and continue their career, it’s a blessing to me and makes me feel good.”
By his high standards, Faulk wasn’t fast when he first started running competitively. The Saints never thought twice about giving up on him, however, which he’s extremely grateful for as graduation day approaches.
“I think that’s important because not everybody is going to be good at first,” Faulk said. “I wasn’t good at first, and then I got my chance without being kicked off the team.”
To even think of Faulk being dismissed from any team is silly. Him realizing he wouldn’t be in the position he is today without the help of so many others, though, is not.
“I want to thank my coaches, my teammates, my family and everybody who has supported me all throughout my journey,” he said.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.