Raiders, Rangers split on trackMay 3, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
HUNTINGBURG — Monday evening’s Pocket Athletic Conference track meet between Forest Park and Southridge provided several reasons for both programs to rejoice. Southridge celebrated senior night, which allowed coach Ted O’Brien to reflect on the Raiders’ recent resurgence.
“It was a great night to celebrate those 18 seniors,” O’Brien said. “It was a beautiful evening for it. It was a good night to run. We were excited to be out here. We gave them some time off on Friday and over the weekend. They were itching to get back out here. We had a good night. We’re using this week to kind of prepare and set ourselves up for next week, so we got some guys some rest.”
Both Forest Park and Southridge rested some runners in preparation for the May 11 conference girls meet at Princeton, and the May 13 boys meet at Tell City. The Rangers earned a close 67-64 win on the boys side, while the Raiders captured an 81-46 win in the girls meet.
Forest Park coach Philip Wolf beamed with pride as he peered around the track. Several Rangers rose to the occasion during the dual meet, and Forest Park picked up critical points in several areas.
“Kids actually showed up and shined,” Wolf said. “I love that Ted O’Brien did what he did, also. We gave our athletes an opportunity to compete before the postseason.”
According to Wolf, Forest Park sophomore Eli Berg was one example of a Ranger who stepped up. Berg won the 1600m run with a final time of 5:12.17 and followed it up with a 11:02.12 for a 3200m run victory.
“He never had that opportunity before with the rest of our team here,” Wolf said. “I’m very proud of how they performed without their main core group out there.”
The boys side featured several momentum swings throughout the meet. O’Brien highlighted Southridge senior Ricky Pflanz, who triumphed in the 800m race with a final time of 1:59.17. The Rangers made a final push, but O’Brien discerned several opportunities for growth.
“We’re a little banged up on the boys side right now,” he said. “Nothing serious, just some nagging things. A lot of them rested tonight and sat out. Hopefully, some good rest. Just having dual meets this week, nothing major, will be good for them heading into conference. It’s nice to have this week where it’s just dual meets. It allows some other kids to get involved and race. They do some things that maybe they haven’t done in our bigger invitationals.”
The Raiders racked up some critical points across the board on the girls side. Southridge scored in all events and claimed the decisive victory.
“The girls ran well tonight,” O’Brien said. “You could tell the rest did them well. We had more of our typical lineup out there for the girls. They did a great job and battled. The relays looked strong.”
Forest Park sophomore Rachel Mehringer earned victories in the 100m hurdles (14.66), the 200m dash (26.01), the long jump (15’10”) and the shot put (30’9”). Wolf also underscored fellow sophomore Katelynn Englert’s performance. Englert snagged a tight victory in the 100m dash with a final result of 14.01.
“She’s been improving steadily from the beginning of the year,” Wolf said of Englert. “She’s getting to where she needs to be. It was nice for her to get the win.”
There were bright spots abound, but also kinks to work out. The meet allowed both teams to gear up for what lies ahead.
“It’s a beautiful night,” Wolf said. “The temperature can’t be any better, really. It’s fun being out here. We get along with the Southridge runners very well. We enjoy being here with them.”
The Forest Park boys and girls teams return on Wednesday for a PAC meet against South Spencer and Tecumseh at South Spencer.
“These kids get to keep mixing things up,” Wolf said. “They’re getting ready for conference. I don’t want to go into conference tired.”
Both Southridge teams run on Thursday at home against PAC opponent Heritage Hills.
“Heritage Hills will be a nice night to come out and give some guys and gals an opportunity to compete,” O’Brien said. “It’s more of a laid-back feel. Heritage Hills is a very good team on both sides. They’re extremely talented and loaded. It will be a good opportunity for us to build some experience and maybe rest some people a little bit. We’ll keep trying to get healthy for next week at conference.”
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