Wolf confident with track personnelApril 2, 2020
By JONATHAN SAXON
FERDINAND — To call these uncertain times is one of the great understatements of our lifetime. The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in mass closings and cancellations across Indiana and the nation as everyone does their part to slow the outbreak.
For Dubois County, that means public schools are closed until May 1. As of now, the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) is still scheduling a spring sports season but is leaving the decision to participate up to schools. But with schools closed, there are no official practices or access to school facilities (fields, gyms, etc.). This leaves Forest Park track and field coach Philip Wolf worried as the season hangs in limbo.
“I’m just hoping to have a season,” said Wolf, who will coach both the boys and girls teams this season. “We’ve had a couple indoor meets already cancelled, (and) my team’s chomping at the bit to get out there and start competing.”
Prior to the halt in school activities, the team used the preseason to shore up a lot of weaknesses. Every athlete has worked to build their speed and endurance, and they’ve been leaning on each other so they can become a strong unit that weathers the rigors of spring.
“Every kid is supportive of each other,” said Wolf. “They’ve been holding each other accountable for what they’re doing, which is a great thing.”
Last season, the Ranger boys finished seventh overall at sectional with sophomore Spenser Wolf and senior Corbin Bell qualifying for regional in the 3200 run and shot put, respectively. He also returns sophomore Dylan Weyer, who’s a dual-threat at hurdles and pole vault. Daniel Eckert will also be back for his junior season after missing time last year with a broken ankle. There’s also a new wave of freshmen that Wolf thinks will add some speed that the team has missed in the past. Wolf is excited by the depth of this year’s boys team and feels they should be competitive in every meet event.
“What a lot of teams locally have had is depth in all aspects,” he said. “I feel this year we’re going to have a lot of that. Last year, it was a lot of throwing and distance events that got us points. This year, I expect it to be a well balanced attack in each race.”
The girls team is a different story. With only 15 runners on the team, they’ll have to be creative with earning their points. It’ll mean stretching as many of the athletes across the most events possible to make up for the lack of depth. But that doesn’t mean Wolf won’t have solid athletes to work with. Sophomore Ellie Hall returns after qualifying for regional in the 3200 run. Senior Lauren Jahn will lead the sprinters. Fellow senior Abby Hauser will top the distance crew and junior thrower Maria Cruz will heave for the fences. Wolf has also been impressed with the early showings from freshman sprinter/hurdler/long jumper Rachel Mehringer.
“I think we’re going to compete,” said Wolf, who admits it’s a bit tougher to get a read on how things will take shape with the girls team.
Wolf thinks there’s a good foundation to build on for both teams, but the expectations are different for each bunch. The boys’ depth has him feeling like they can shoot for a top-four finish at sectional. The girls’ challenge is a bit more difficult with the smaller athlete pool, but they’ll put their best foot forward to earn every point they can muster.
“(I) think we’re going to be contending for one of the top spots,” said Wolf regarding the boys team. “That’s how confident I am with the 35 kids I have on the guys side. I’m loving the task of having both squads because now my boys and girls are competing in practice to make each other stronger.”
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