Mike Stults was a star athlete for the Knoxville Panthers in the sports of cross country and track.
The 1995 graduate is the son of Nancy and Greg Stults of Oakland, California.
Mike is the third person in his family to be individually inducted into the Knoxville High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
His brother T.K. Wignall was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 and his dad, Greg Stults entered the Hall of Fame in 2017 as a coach.
All were known for their running skills. Coach Stults entered the Hall of Fame as a highly successful varsity cross country coach.
Greg’s 1980 Panther Cross Country Team was State Champions and the 1981 squad was State runner-up. Eleven of his Panther squads earned top 10 finishes at State.
T.K. was on the 1980 Panther State Cross Country Team.
Mike was second at the State Cross Country Meet in 1994, losing only by inches to Jesse Sands of Cedar Rapids, Xavier.
Mike was a four-year conference champion leading four Panther cross country teams to State. He was named all-state three years in a row.
Mike was a multiple conference champion in track, with his career highlighted by winning state in the 800 his junior year.
He actually won State in the 800 the year he was hit by a car leading up to State. The injury limited the number of events he would run at State.
“My favorite races in track were the 400 and 800 meters,” Mike stated.
He added, “My cross country success carried over to the track. I ran in memory of my brother, T.K., who passed away when I was in third grade, and for my dad.”
In looking back, Mike replied, “I’ve always loved running. For me it’s like medicine, it helped keep my sane.”
“I run everyday. I started running every day when I was 13-years-old. I roughly run five miles per day and I still train hard,” Mike said.
Mike recently turned 40-years-old.
Following a decorated high school career in athletics, Mike went to college at Johnson Community College in Kansas for a year before moving on to Iowa State University where he was a three-year letter winner.
Mike said he had a long list of people to thank for helping getting him to where he is at today.
“Each coach gave me something different. Bob Christy was my elementary gym teacher. He was the first person outside my family who encouraged me and congratulated me on doing my best, whether it was climbing the rope, scoring goals in soccer class or playing dodge ball.
“Coach Christy helped me with my self-esteem.”
Tom Barnett was the wrestling coach. “He taught me intensity and to after a victory by staying focused.”
Tom Cook was a substitute gym teacher. Mike stated, “Mr Cook reminded me of Rocky Balboa’s trainer. He taught me the importance of athletics and I wanted to please him.”
“My dad taught me dedication both on and off the field. It was about discipline and hard-work and achieving more,” Mike said.
He added, “Mike Cunningham was the track coach. He taught me that the person who wanted it the most would normally win.”
Despite all the success running, Mike said his favorite sports were football and wrestling.
When asked what made him such as good athlete, Mike commented, “I have this inner-drive. I was born that way.
“The pressure and stress of growing up was not much fun. After winning it was always on to the next race and never be satisfied!”
“Wrestling and football were fun for me,” Mike added.
“My dad was a fantastic coach. He knew ho to push a person and he was never negative,”Mike replied.
“Knoxville sports were always important and it always started with the family values,” he said.
His favorite teacher in school was Ken Howard. “He taught me to be a better student. He helped me get through college with what he taught me.”
Odds and Ends
Mike and his wife Chanelle live in Dublin, Calif. His wife is a retired Oakland police officer.
Mike works as a supervisor for the State of California in a program that helps keep inmates out of prison.
Mike’s family consists of a son, Kai (9), a daughter Jade (2) and a toddler Michael Callen Stults II (7 months).
Mike said he wanted to pass on a message to others who may some day have the desire to strive for greatness to one day enter the Hall of Fame.
“For the future athletes of tomorrow, to be a champion, it all starts with the basics. Be disciplined, sacrifice through hard work, be intense, be determined and most important be yourself,” Mike said.