Ranger senior’s blazing strides worth the wait

Photos by Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Forest Park’s Aaron Schuler, center, Travis Schnell, right, and Trent Weyer gathered around one of their coaches to discuss the improvements on their splits after running the 400-meter relay in Thursday’s meet at Ferdinand against rival Jasper. The Rangers topped the Wildcats 86-46 in the boys meet, and Jasper managed a split with the Wildcat girls steaming to a 91-41 verdict. For a full gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

FERDINAND — Aaron Schuler heard it as far back as 10th-grade geometry class.

You’re fast. You should run track. How about it, kid?

The words from Karl Hinson didn’t quite work two years ago. Nor did they last year. But now, two races into his track career, the senior is realizing exactly why the Forest Park boys track and field coach so adamantly sought him out.

Schuler claimed the top spot in the 100-meter dash, with Trent Weyer and Travis Schnell completing the sweep for the Ranger boys team, which outpaced Jasper 86-46 on a sunny Thursday evening in Ferdinand. On the girls side, Jasper returned the favor, surpassing the Rangers 91-41 for its second dual-meet win in three days.

As for Schuler, the week’s two dual meets have been a bit eye-opening.

“I knew I was fast,” said Schuler, who also claimed first in the 200. “I didn’t know I was that fast.”

Then there’s Kyle Lubbehusen. The senior labored as a manager last season, came to embrace the sport, recognized his own potential and finally decided to lace up the spikes himself this spring.

“It’s better than being a manager,” joked Lubbehusen, who ran in the 400 relay and also competed in the 100 and long jump. “I’m glad we’re seeing results and getting ribbons this year.”

Austin Fisher, Sam Beckman and Emerson Thayer swept the 110 hurdles for the Rangers, while Trent Weyer (long jump, high jump), Victor Weyer (400), Clayton Meyer (800) and Beckman (pole vault) also grabbed tops spots.

By Jasper coach Kevin Schipp’s evaluation, the undesirable results stemmed from a combination of a shorter roster because of sickness and injury and a generally slow start at the meet’s outset. Kirk Stenftenagel was sidelined with injury, Zach Wood was also hobbled, Austin Schmidt battled through flulike symptoms during his heats, and distance runner Clayton Traylor developed shin splints after finishing third in the 1,600.


Yet what also resonated for Schipp was the team’s finishing ability. Reid Milligan, Schmidt, Jacob Tuner and Wood captured the 1,600 relay, bettering their time by six seconds compared to Tuesday’s meet against Princeton.

Wildcat thrower Cory Hoffman launched a personal best 47 feet, 111⁄4 inches in the shot put, which not only earned Jasper first place and an eventual sweep, but also alleviated the pressure of surpassing last year’s success, he said.

“It’s kind of a relief to reach your last year’s record because then there’s not that much pressure on you,” Hoffman said while enjoying a post-meet orange. “You know you can do it.”

Schipp also lauded the efforts of Milligan, who snared first place in the 300 hurdles by three seconds. As for incentive, the sophomore said he doesn’t have to look far.

“I’m getting kind of close to the school record in that race, so that’s motivating me a lot so far this year,” Milligan said. “And it’s just the beginning, so I’ve got a lot of time to get that.”

Hinson saw the same strides from Schnell in the discuss. While the senior threw in the 130-foot range last season, he hurled a personal-best 152-4 Thursday to capture first.

The Ranger distance runners hoarded points as well. Cody Flamion and Trey Dooley grabbed first and second, respectively, in the 1,600 and 3,200, as Dooley surged past Jasper’s Traylor in the final 25 meters of the latter event.


The result was particularly special for Dooley, who had been inactive for two weeks after his truck tipped and slid on its side about a month and a half ago. The crash left his left arm exposed and skidding on the concrete, resulting in 12 stitches and a 5-inch scar on his arm.

“Trying to get back in shape, that was a pain in the butt,” Dooley said. “But it’s pretty exciting to get (these results) with a setback like that.”

Improvement appeared thematic for the Wildcat girls, too, as Jasper coach Dean Jerger reported “steady progress throughout” despite several alterations needing to be made.

“We were trying to fit that puzzle together, trying to figure out who needs to be doing what, and we got some good results, got some good times,” Jerger said.

One rejiggering occurred in the 1,600 relay, as Megan Stenftenagel, who had already competed in the 800, shot put and discus, filled in for an ailing Haley Kilian.

“I was a bit surprised since (Coach Jerger) didn’t add me until, like, today,” Stenftenagel said with a chuckle. “But it was good to be in the last event and just help them out.”

Jerger praised the consistent performances from both Hannah Welsh, who claimed first in the 1,600 and 3,200, and Darian Mehne, who stormed to victories in the 100, 200 and long jump. He also applauded high jumper Alex Hurm, who recorded a personal best (5-2) and notched first as well.

Jasper’s Alex Hurm won the high jump by 4 inches, logging a winning leap of 5-2.

Jasper’s Alyssa Lawyer and Allison Dorsam seized first and second in the shot put, respectively, while Kirby Ruhe (300 hurdles), Stenftenagel (discus), Jaclyn Schmitt (pole vault) and Maria Baer (400) also secured top finishes.

On the Ranger side, coach Rachel Hinson exercised some shuffling herself. She made seven roster changes minutes before the meet began, noting freshmen Holly Buechler and Rachel Hopf in specific.

Along with shaving another two seconds off of her 200 time, Buechler subbed in for an injured Tori Lange in the 400 relay.

Hopf, traditionally a thrower, ran the 400 for the first time and recorded the Rangers’ second-fastest split.

The Rangers concluded the day with a win in the 3,200 relay, anchored by Lydia Lange, who missed last season with a torn ACL. Though returning to the track was “super nerve-racking” for the sophomore, the relay win should help a young Ranger team develop some much-needed confidence, she said.

Lange’s relay teammate and 800 winner Amanda Jacob agreed: “(Coach Hinson) says our team has a lot of issues with having confidence in ourselves. Most of the girls are very nervous before races. And I think, even if you get one win out of a competitor, or you get close, you beat your time, it’s always going to give you a little more confidence.”

Jerger said he expects a similar residual effect with his throwers as well, who he commended for doing “an exceptional job tonight.” Lawyer and Dorsam both threw farther than 32 feet, and while the distances may not be state-finals-level quite yet, they are undoubtedly welcomed, Jerger said.

“They’re happy with them. We’re happy with them. They’re showing progress from last year,” he said. “So, something to build on and hopefully it continues to get better.”

Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.com.

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