Margaret Leary Milers celebrate 15th anniversary

Margaret Leary Milers celebrate 15th anniversary
Eli Smith, right, and Ryan Tomich run during a Milers practice Thursday at Margaret Leary. (Bill Foley photos)

By Ryan Tomich
for Butte Sports

Did you run in elementary school?

Many kids from third through sixth grade are running at Margaret Leary Elementary school. This is the 15th anniversary of the running program at the school. The program is called Milers.

Students run about 2 miles twice a week to train for the race called the Governor’s Cup, which is a 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) race in Helena. It is a great program that any school could do and all kids can participate.

(Continued below photos …)

Milers was started by Jim O’Neill in 2001 when he was the principal at Margaret Leary and the coach of the Butte High School cross country and track teams. O’Neill said that he started milers because he enjoyed running and he said, “I hoped if I got a running program started with younger kids, it would help build the program at the high school.”

Caty Carmody was one of those kids. She ran Milers in 2008-2011.

“I definitely think Milers helped me in my high school running as I don’t think I would love running if I did not join Milers,” Carmody said.

The program is free and open to all levels of runners. There is teacher support for the club from Ms. Badovinic, Mrs. Sharon, and Mrs. Whitlock.

Whitlock, who supported the program from the beginning, stated, “Running 3 miles helps with self -confidence and it feels good even if you don’t win.”

The benefits of exercise including running are well known. O’Neill and the other teachers agree that running keeps you healthy and relieves stress. But the most important reason is because it is fun.

Carson Kriskovich, a third grade runner, sums it up best, “You get to see all your friends and just run, run, run!”

This year there are 33 runners. O’Neill had no idea how many would sign up all those years ago, there was between 30-40 runners who attended Governor’s Cup that year.  A number that far exceeded his expectation.  An average of 35 students a year, running 2 miles once or twice a week for 6-8 weeks for 15 years is closing in on 10,000 miles.  Most will attend the 5K Governor’s Cup race in Helena on June 11.

The PTO (parent teacher organization) pays the entry fee, bus ride and lunch for each runner who attended enough after school running sessions to go to the race.

My own experience with the Milers Club is still in progress. This is my third year and I joined milers because I thought it would really help me in all the other sports I play. It is fun to run with my friends and kids from the other grades.

We learn about many aspects of running including pacing, breathing, arm motion, hydration and health.  You have to be tough to be a Miler as we run in all kinds of weather and are always trying to go faster.

Running is a lifetime sport and for me. The Margaret Leary Milers has made running part of my life.

— Ryan Tomich is finishing up the fifth grade at the Margaret Leary Elementary School in Butte.

2016 Margaret Leary Milers

Saylor Allen

Luke Andersen

Ella Anrneson

Dylan Bache

Tanner Bair

Katie Becker

Katrina Carlson

Abby Cunningham

Brady Folland

Kayla Folland

Grace Gransbery

Sophia Gransbery

Rosie Hammond

Masyn Hanna

Hailey Hotalen

Hunter Hotalen

Carson Kriskovich

Dawson Kriskovich

Sydney Keller

Eric Loos

Jack Luoma

Alexia Martin

Tyson Matauaina

Colin McKernan

Kennadie McMahon

Kaitrin McMillan

Abby Mellot

Mercedes Meyer

Ashlinn Mullaney

Canyon Mullaney

Trevor Nisbet

Mickey O’Dell

Aiden Ossello

Shaun Paulsen

Riley Polites

Dakota Rebich

Gunner Reopelle

Morghan Rostad

Taylor Sampson

Samantha Schaller

Cole Skeel

Hailey Skeel

Eli Smith

Keaton Snyder

Dylan Snyder

Kyler Stenson

Mya Stenson

Ethan Sweet

Riley Sweet

Ryan Tomich

Bryten Varcoe

Grace Vincent

Reid Whitlock

Trey Whitlock 2 comments

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  • Maureen Tomich
    June 3, 2016, 9:19 am

    Thanks Butte Sports and Bill Foley for recognizing youth sports . Superstars are born everyday and some in grade school . Thanks for the support

  • Becky Smith
    June 3, 2016, 11:36 am

    What an amazing program Jim O’Neil started to give kids a lifelong appreciation for running!
    I am also in awe that Ryan Tomich, a fifth grader, wrote this article. It was informative and interesting.
    I am so lucky I get to send my kids to this wonderful school!


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