2023 Scholarship Recipients

Truman Johnson & Laney Alig

Coach Smith Scholarship Recipients

Year      Girls      Boys
2023   Laney Alig   Truman Johnson
2022   Aubrey Stager   Shane Pitcher
2021   Lydia Alig   Sam Kulczak
2020   Tess Carichner   Noah Socha
2019   Ella Woehlke   Johnathan Speers
2018   Elena Hoerauf   Simon Pfeiffer 
2017   Becky Cantrell   Noah Cook
2016   Gillian Hartley   Connor Meehan
2015   Annie Fuelle   Brian Blankenship
2014   Emily Diehl   Kevin Hall
2013   Karina Becker    
    Jenna Militello    
2012   Kelly Hall   Anthony Lamus
2011   Sarah Marshall     Evan Park




Laney Alig, Class of 2024

Since the start of my middle school years, Saline Cross Country has easily become one of the best parts of my life. This program taught me so much about myself and gave me a group of kind and hardworking people who became more like a family than friends. I have learned so much about work ethic, goal setting, and perseverance, but more importantly it showed me compassion, strength, and how to be the best version of myself. I cannot thank everyone who has been involved in this program enough for everything that this sport has given me, and I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship.

Truman Johnson, Class of 2024

What makes Saline Cross Country special isn't the successes on the cross country course it's had, but rather the warmth and culture that it cultivates. Turning out all state athletes and placing well at the state meet are wonderful things, but they aren't why Saline Cross Country is exceptional in most every way. I have been a part of Saline Cross Country all four years of high school, and I honestly don't know if I could have kept myself afloat throughout high school without the superb teammates that helped me along the way. The coaches and athletes at Saline are hardworking, dedicated, and passionate. Every minute of my time spent in the company of Saline XC athletes and coaches inspired me to become the best version of myself both out on the course and as a leader. Although I never had the opportunity to meet Coach Smith, I know that he poured himself out into Saline XC, and I cannot ever appreciate his sacrifice enough. I feel incredibly honored to have received the Mike Smith scholarship this year, and as I continue on into the next chapter of my life, I will use this scholarship to further my education and pave the way to a future career. I am so thankful for all that Saline Cross Country has given me; this program will forever be in my thoughts and prayers!


Aburey Stager, Class of 2023

Running Saline Cross Country is by far one of the best decisions that I've made. I joined the program in 4th grade, with Heritage cross country. Since then, my love for running has grown exponentially. I'm so thankful that I got to meet so many amazing people along this journey, and got mentored by some of the most amazing coaches. I don't know where I would be without Saline Cross Country, as this family has allowed me to experience so many unique traditions and experiences. I am very honored to have received the Coach Smith Scholarship, and I will use it to pursue my education.




Shane Pitcher, Class of 2023

Before my freshman year I moved to Saline and decided running cross country would be a good opportunity for me to make friends in a new place. I didn’t start out very fast but I knew one day with hard work I could be. I’ve learned the value of hard work and how running rewards it. More so than running, I've had the opportunity to be a part of a team with amazing culture. As I’ve said in the past, “Trophies and medals are cool but my teammates are cooler.” I hope that in my time at Saline I was able to be a fast runner who scored points at big meets as well as a kid who was a true leader and friend to everyone on the team. I feel that I have done exactly that. I am honored to have earned the Mike Smith Scholarship and I can’t wait to use it to help further my education to achieve my goals. 


Lydia Alig, Class of 2022

Saline Cross Country has been a wonderful constant in my life since I first started running in 7th grade. I found a sport that I love, but what I love even more are the people involved in this program because they have truly made a lasting impact on me as a person. From this incredible team I have learned the importance of perseverance and dedication, but I have more importantly learned how to be a good friend and a leader from my coaches and teammates alike. I am honored to receive such a generous scholarship from the team that has meant so much to me during high school. Without a doubt,  this team would be nowhere close to what it is today without the hard work and sacrifices of Coach Smith, and I am so thankful that I was able to experience the loving, impactful team that he built. 



Sam Kulczak, Class of 2022

Saline Cross Country has given me the opportunity to grow as both a runner and a leader through the environment that Coach Smith built for this program. Over my four years on this team, I have learned invaluable lessons from coaches and teammates alike that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have been taught the value of grit and determination, the secrets to being a leader, and the keys to being a great teammate. I am truly honored to be a part of this program and to have received the Coach Smith Scholarship. I hope to use this scholarship to carry the values of Saline Cross Country with me for years to come. 


Tess Carichner, Class of 2021

Saline Cross Country has been a favorite aspect of my high school career. Challenging myself through running strengthened my confidence and being part of such a wonderful sisterhood improved my communication. Saline Cross County provided me with great mentors, whether they be sisters or coaches. The Coach Mike Smith Scholarship is both an honor and a generous financial aid, as I will be attending the University of Michigan School of Nursing. As a runner, my coaches have taught me the importance of health, which has influenced my goal to become a nurse practitioner.

Noah Socha, Class of 2021

It has been an honor to be a part of the Saline Cross Country community. Apart from a brief hiatus in my first two years of high school, cross country has been a consistent part of my life since before middle school. The lessons I have learned and people I have forged relationships with have proven invaluable. While my interactions with Coach Smith have been brief, I admire how he makes any athlete feel heard. He truly is emblematic of all that Saline Cross Country is; I am humbled to receive this award.

Ella Woehlke, Class of 2020

Coach Smith, although retired, still continues to make a lasting impact on the Saline Cross Country community. I am blessed to have been given words of wisdom and hugs of congratulations from Coach Smith throughout my Cross Country experience. It means a great deal to me that I was chosen for this award. I hope to walk in the path that Coach Smith set before me as I continue on to my next steps in life.  

Johnathan Speers, Class of 2020

Saline Cross country has provided me with an environment that fostered growth and development, not only as a runner, but as a person. Coach Smith worked tirelessly to build a culture that helped his athletes to experience success on and off the course. I was ecstatic to be chosen as the recipient of the Mike Smith scholarship, in large part because of the attention to character that he was famous for. Thank you coach, for giving me the opportunity to further my goals.

Elena Hoerauf, Class of 2019

I am among the last group of runners who had the privilege of being coached by Coach Smith. He was truly dedicated to the cross country program, and his hard work and commitment has made Saline Cross Country the incredible program that it is today. I may not have been the best runner on the team, but I ran with a love and passion for cross country, my coaches, and my teammates. Saline Cross Country means so much to me, and my four years within the program have helped me grow into the strong, confident woman I am today. Words cannot express how honored and humbled I am to have received this award. 

Simon Pfeiffer, Class of 2019

Coach Smith’s everlasting impact of team culture, unity, and dedication has allowed me and hundreds of others to achieve goals, make friends, and find a home in cross country. Saline cross country would truly not be the same without him. Thus, I am honored to be recognized in fulfilling roles of leadership to continue the wonderful culture of this team.

Becky Cantrell, Class of 2018

Saline Cross Country was an incredible program that gave me so much more than fitness. It helped me to grow out of my comfort zone and develop skills, friendships, and lessons that will last my lifetime. Coach Smith cared for every runner and genuinely wanted what was best for everyone, then he took the extra step to make it happen. He has impacted my life and many others for the better and I am honored to have this scholarship in his name.

Gillian Hartley, Class of 2017

Starting in my junior year, I knew that I wanted to compete for the Coach Smith Scholarship. When I actually won the award at the end of my senior season, it meant a lot to me, and it is something that I consider to be a huge accomplishment. It is hardly about the money or even the recognition of winning, but more about the reassurance of the person that others see me as - someone whose name could be even somewhat associated with the legend - Michael Smith. This award means even more now that Coach Smith has retired, and the continuance of this scholarship will surely touch the hearts of any team member who receives it.

Connor Meehan

Connor Meehan, Class of 2017

It was, and continues to be, an incredible honor to be selected as a recipient of the Coach Smith Scholarship.  I'm humbled beyond words, knowing the legacy this represents.  Men and women of selfless service-mindedness, while excelling in academics as well as athletics, have paved the road before me. Cross Country is an extended family that has blessed my life, forever impacting me for the better.

Annie Fuelle, Class of 2016

When I won the Coach Smith Scholarship, I could not believe it. Running never came easily for me, but I raced for myself, my sisterhood, and most importantly for my coach, Mike Smith. Winning the Coach Smith Scholarship was an honor as much as it was a privilege. I am grateful to have been a part of the Saline Girls Cross Country program for four years, and I challenge myself daily to be the woman Coach Smith would be proud of, whether I am running or not. Most importantly, I strive to honor the man who taught all of us that “the person you thought you were is no match for the person you really are.” Thank you, Coach Smith.

Brian Blankenship

Brian Blankenship, Class of 2016

Although Coach Smith has consistently coached some of the finest athletes in the state of Michigan, I believe his greatest accomplishment has been teaching the countless young men and women that go through the Saline Cross Country program the value of hard work, self-sacrifice, and personal growth. Although my short tenure with the team in no way matches his unwavering commitment to the program for the last 39 years, I am honored to be recognized as having made a positive contribution to the team he taught me to love.

Emily Diehl, Class of 2015

Saline Cross Country is an incredible program that will always hold a special place in the hearts of its alumni, and so much of its legacy can be attributed to Coach Smith. Coach constantly inspired hard work and passion, both in cross country and in life, contributing to the incredible athletic and academic success of the team. I am so honored to have received this scholarship. It has helped me in pursuing my dreams at Northwestern University, but even more importantly, it is a constant reminder of the cross country family that is still so special to me.

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall, Class of 2015

Coach Smith is the man, and receiving a scholarship in his name is quite the honor. Saline Cross Country is a very special program, and Coach Smith played a huge part in making it what it is today. I am continuing my running career in college and I owe it all to Coach Smith and the Saline Cross Country program!

Karnia Becker

Karina Becker, Class of 2014

The Coach Smith Scholarship allowed me the achieve my dream of attending the School of Nursing at the University of Michigan, for which I will be forever grateful. Coach Smith was an incredible model of the drive and passion necessary for success and this scholarship allowed me to use these skills for success on the course as a runner, in the classroom as a student, and in the hospital as a nurse.

Jenna Militello, Class of 2014

The Coach Smith scholarship helped me fund my first year of studies at the University of Michigan. I was able to enroll as a full time student and elect multiple credits of classes, which ultimately allowed me to get ahead in classes for my major in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Now, I can graduate almost a full year early. I am so thankful that I was chosen as a recipient of this scholarship. Apart from helping me with my studies, I was honored to receive an award from an individual who I had looked up to as a supportive, hard-working, and inspiring role model throughout high school.

Kelly Hall

Kelly Hall, Class of 2013

My four years of Saline cross country and track were the best experiences of my life, and Coach Smith was by my side every step of the way with support, wisdom, and compassion. His pre-race advice to me (a timid racer!) was always "be aggressive," and I hope he's proud of the courage and confidence I've built through my XC experiences. Coach, a former SHS teacher, believes strongly in education, and I am so proud that this award is helping me to attend the University of Michigan, where I continue to run daily - I even just ran my first marathon! Thank you, Coach Smith, and thank you to the scholarship committee for the hard work they've put into preserving Coach Smith's legacy. Happy trails!

Anthony Lamus

Anthony Lamus, Class of 2013

Coach Smith has been a staple of Saline Cross County for a long time. Through the years he has carved, formed, and polished the future men and women of the world. During his tenure here the value that has continued to guide each runner is his unwavering dedication. In a world constantly changing and evolving, it is a rarity to find a man or person to stand up and invest every part of himself to another, no matter who they are or where they come from. To be a part of this in any way or form is an honor.

Sarah Marshall

Sarah Marshall, Class of 2012

During my time in Saline Cross Country, Coach Smith saw something in me that I had not yet seen in myself. I remember clearly the exact moment he ignited my competitive fire and nurtured the potential of the type of person I could become. The fact that he was able to do this for each and every girl in a sea of yellow jerseys is a testament to his incredible spirit. I am proud to know him and honored to have been the first recipient of his namesake scholarship. Far beyond the monetary support, receiving the scholarship solidified my identity as the type of leader who could be associated with the legend Mike Smith. This association inspired the confidence I needed to accomplish my dreams, as I'm sure it will for future recipients in the years to come.

Evan Park

Evan Park, Class of 2012

The Mike Smith Scholarship provides generous financial support to the recipient, yes, but more importantly it forces every applicant to genuinely ask themselves self-identifying questions that are fundamental to representing the Saline Cross Country name. The scholarship makes one aware that they are running for a team and community much larger than oneself. The scholarship not only demands a certain type of character, but calls others to meet that standard. Whether I realized it or not, these realizations have shaped the person I have been striving to become.



Becky Cantrell, Class of 2018

Saline Cross Country was an incredible program that gave me so much more than fitness. It helped me to grow out of my comfort zone and develop skills, friendships, and lessons that will last my lifetime. Coach Smith cared for every runner and genuinely wanted what was best for everyone, then he took the extra step to make it happen. He has impacted my life and many others for the better and I am honored to have this scholarship in his name.