Rangers See Renaissance At Districts

New Knoxville’s Carsyn Henschen competes in the girls 4x400-meter relay at the Division III District Track and Field Meet on Saturday at Spencerville.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Saturday was a milestone for the New Knoxville girls track and field program. 

At the conclusion of the two-day Division III District Meet in Spencerville, the Rangers will be sending four athletes to the regional meet Wednesday at Troy, which is the most regional qualifiers the program has had — boys and girls teams combined — since 2014. The girls team also finished sixth with 53 points.
“Last year, we showed up to district finals with one shot putter and one relay team,” Rangers coach Samantha Fledderjohann said. “This year, we got to finals in three field events, three relay events and three individual running events. We get to send four to regionals and only one is a senior. I had two sophomores bring home a fifth and one freshman bring home sixth so I look for even more next year.”

It is the most regional qualifiers for the New Knoxville track and field program since the school sent six to regionals in 2014. That season, the girls had 43 points and the boys finished with 23. 

From 2015 to 2018, New Knoxville had just three regional qualifiers and a combined 16 points for the girls team.
Melisa Waterman and Jacklyn Leffel both qualified for regionals in high jump on Thursday and the team rode that momentum into Saturday.

Last season’s state qualifier in shot put, Erin Scott, kept her season alive Saturday by placing runner-up in the event with a throw of 36 feet, 6 inches and was just 1.5 inches shy of the district champion in Fort Recovery freshman Whitley Rammel.

In the girls 200-meter dash, Lola Thompson became the first Ranger, boy or girl, to advance to regionals in the event since 2015 with a runner-up personal-best time of 26.86 — just .14 away from Gina Bambaurer’s school record of 26.70 in that event. Ethan Kuck was the last New Knoxville sprinter to qualify for regionals in that event.
New Knoxville had other close finishes on Saturday.

The Rangers’ girls 4x100 relay team of Taylor Gonzalez, Scott, Samantha Stienecker and Thompson missed out on regionals by less than a second, placing fifth with a time of 52.55. That group, however, broke the 2004 school record of 53.60 on Thursday and broke their own record on Saturday.

In the 800-meter run, freshman Carsyn Henschen placed sixth with a time of 2:29.28. The best four times move on to regionals, but Henschen did score three points for the Rangers and improved three spots in the final 300 meters. A pair of sophomores also came close to advancing to regionals as Liberty Menke missed the cut by less than three seconds in the 400 dash by finishing fifth with a time of 1:04.70 and Gretchen Dwenger also placed fifth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 49.65 — 1.07 shy of advancing.

On Thursday, freshman Avery Henschen was 1 foot, 1 inch shy of qualifying in discus, but ended her season as the discus champion in the Midwest Athletic Conference just the week before and owns the school record in the event, breaking Natasha Fullenkamp’s 2008 record of 124 feet, 1 inch.
“I'm excited for this team and its future,” Fledderjohann said. “We've seen vast improvement but we aren't done. The passion is there and they aren't afraid of the work it will take to put New Knoxville track back on the radar.”

The regional meet begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with field events — boys pole vault, girls high jump, girls shot put, boys discus and boys long jump. Track events will then begin at 6 p.m. at Troy High School.