Forest Park seeks big cross country season

Photos by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Senior Ellie Hall figures to play a big part on Forest Park’s girls cross-country team this year. The two-time state qualifier will try to make it back in 2021.


FERDINAND — Forest Park cross-country coach Philip Wolf enters this season with a lot to be excited about for his boys and girls.

Wolf has the numbers with his boys team — 13, to be exact. He called it one of the deeper boys teams he’s ever coached, and this is a year he’s been looking forward to for a while.

He has the opportunity to coach two of his sons — Spenser, a senior star runner, and Reece, a freshman — this year.

“It’s an honor, but it’s a very hard challenge, too, because I’ve got to coach them two separate ways because Spenser’s at one level and Reece is just developing into the runner that he can be,” Philip said. “So, it’s hard because I got to remember who I’m talking to and what one can do and what the other one can’t do.”

Philip said running isn’t Reece’s main focus, but he’s out this year to be with Spenser. However, he’s hoping to have his son beyond 2021, and he hailed Reece for being very athletic and competitive.

He has a lot he’ll be working with on his boys side this year, with Spenser being a state qualifier his sophomore and junior years, but it doesn’t stop with him for the Ranger boys.

Fellow senior Bryce Troesch has joined Spenser at semi-state these last two years, but Philip couldn’t guarantee that Troesch would be the team’s No. 2 runner, because Reece will be pushing for a top spot, as will senior Ethan Hall. He mentioned junior Eli Berg as a candidate for the fifth spot.

“I just hope the kids are as excited as I am because we do have depth,” he said.

Spenser was an individual sectional champion last year, just missed out on the regional championship, came in sixth place at semi-state and 37th at state.

Philip is sad he won’t get to coach him beyond this year, but he’s looking forward to what Spenser can do.

“He’s determined to get on that podium (at state) after last year because he knew that he should’ve been in that top 10,” Philip said.

Senior Bryce Troesch is one of a few vying for a top spot on Forest Park’s boys cross-country team in 2021. Troesch has qualified for semi-state in each of the past two years.

He’s not going to put any weight on his son during the regular season, but once the postseason comes around, that’s when they’ll start caring.

“If we lose here and there, it doesn’t really matter,” Philip said. “We’re just trying every meet that we go to — it’s a workout. We’re going to try to build off of that until the postseason, then we will turn him loose.”

The boys made it to regionals as a team last year, and Philip thinks his boys can get to semi-state as a team this year — just like the girls did in 2020.

Leading the way for the 2021 girls is senior Ellie Hall, who qualified for state her freshman and sophomore year, but missed out on a third straight trip to Terre Haute last year.

“Do I think she can make it back there? Absolutely,” he said of Hall. “She can run as strong as anyone around. Will she be there? That’s up to her — her mental state and how hard she keeps working. But if I know Ellie, she will work hard and she will return back to state.”

Philip envisions juniors Karli Kitten and Danielle Eckert joining Hall in the top three girls runners this season. He thinks sophomore Allison Fraze can make the top five, and so can freshman Hattie Dilger.

“I say Ellie, Karli, Danielle will be my top three — they’ve been consistent, they’re very competitive, which gives kids an advantage,” Philip said. “If you’re competitive, you’re going to want to push harder and longer to succeed.

“So, the next two I think will be Allison and Hattie — just because I’ve coached Hattie since junior high events, so I know what she can do, and I’m looking forward to having her on the team,” he continued.

He noted that Fraze has had some flaws that he’s pointed out, despite the fact that he envisions her as a top five runner.

“I’ve been trying to teach that she can slow down and learn to run correctly,” Philip said of Fraze. “Then once she gets that form down, she can start picking it back up. So, we’ve been really concentrating on that.”

The Rangers are set to open their 2021 season Aug. 14 at Borden.

“I’m hoping a win for the guys team overall, and the girls, maybe a second place because (Corydon Central is) there and Corydon’s bringing back a lot of tough runners — plus adding to their team with some more freshmen,” he said.

More on