Mehringer, Wolf get firetruck treatment

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald 
Forest Park sophomore Rachel Mehringer won the state championship in the 100m hurdles on Saturday at Ben Davis with a time of 14.35 seconds.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

FERDINAND - Sirens blared on Sunday afternoon as a police car led a string of fire trucks through Ferdinand. Some members of the community of all ages stood on corners cheering and waving, as they turned out to get a glimpse of their very own.

Forest Park sophomore Rachel Mehringer and junior Spenser Wolf were the toast of the town following their triumphs at the track state finals at Ben Davis. Wolf's time of 9:17.94 in the 3200m run gave him ninth place and a spot on the podium on Friday.

There's only one state champion in each event, however, and one of them resides in Dubois County. Mehringer received the champion's salute following her first place triumph in Saturday's girls 100m hurdles with a time of 14.35 seconds.

"It was fun," Mehringer said. "I've never done that before, it was something new - it was a new experience."

Also having a new experience this weekend was Rangers track coach Philip Wolf, who had never coached a state champion until Mehringer's breakthrough.

"It's amazing," Philip said. "To see the development that she went through, and to see her success at the state meet, it was unreal."

Mehringer also competed in the 300m hurdles, finishing with a time of 47.88, and in 21st place. She qualified for state, but didn't partake in the 100m dash. Mehringer also has competed in the shot put, and was going to pole vault as a freshman.

Philip believes what distinguishes her in the 100m hurdles is the speed she displays out of the blocks that other competitors don't have.

He believes there are multiple things that make her so good, so young. Rachel's father, Kerri, is Forest Park's sprint and hurdle coach. Kerri competed in the 110 high hurdles and 400m hurdles at Anderson University, and Philip believes genetics play a part. He also hailed the work ethic that Rachel brings to the table.

"She will lift more than a lot of guys can with body-to-weight ratio," Philip said.

Kerri not only has a daughter who has won a state championship, but he's also been there every step of the way.

"It's a lot of fun to watch, and it's fun to watch any kid develop who you're coaching," Kerri said. "But it's special when it's your own kid."

Submitted Photo
Forest Park junior Spenser Wolf ran a time of 9:17.94 in the 3200m run in Friday’s state finals at Ben Davis. That time was good enough for ninth place and a spot on the podium.

Philip also lauded his son, with Spenser getting onto the podium at state.

"Spenser, just like Rachel, has put in a lot of time," he said. "He gave up basketball this past winter to concentrate on running because he knows that's going to pay his way for college. So, he worked day in, day out. When we don't have practice, he will still get up at whatever time and go out and do his workout."

"To see all the hard work pay off, it makes it all worth it," Spenser said.

Philip saw something in Rachel going into her freshman track season in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut down spring sports, and denied everyone the chance to see her perform.

"They missed what we saw yesterday - how good she really is, and she's just going to keep getting better," he said.

"I feel like especially not having a season last year just made me want to work harder this year to get what I didn't get last year," Rachel said.

She had an accident the day before the May 25 Evansville Central regional. Rachel insists it wasn't that bad, but it worried Philip.

"She actually was practicing and took a fall on the track - was scraped up," Philip said. "It goes a through a coach's mind, 'Oh, crap, can she bounce back?'"

He credited her for coming back and battling like a champion at regional to qualify for state in three events, and the rest is history.

Rachel will briefly take some time before she gets back to work, as she's a hopeful for the USATF National Junior Olympics. She's qualified, but not every entrant is accepted.

She'll always have her sophomore track season, but after experiencing everything she did this spring, she finds herself wanting it again next year.

"People know who I am now," she said. "I'm not new, and they're all coming for me just as much as I was for them this year."




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