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Wangler chasing down dad's old record

September 2, 2010
Matt Mullally

Rugby junior Erik Wangler has already built an impressive cross country career.

However, the two-time all-state runner has more goals to accomplish, including chasing down a family record.

"My dad (John) was a pretty good cross country runner at Balta and his best (5,000 meter) time was 16:33,' Erik said. "I hope to be able to beat that time one day."

Erik has two more seasons to do it and admits it will be a challenge since he will need to shave a minute off of his best time of 17:34 to surpass his dad, who was also a two-time all-state runner.

Erik grew knowing his father's success in the sport, but surprisingly cross country didn't interest him initially.

"I didn't want to go out for it, I didn't want to run long distance, but my older sister (Danielle) brought me to practice when I was a seventh grader,' Erik recalls.

Wangler looks back now and is thankful she did.

"I enjoy it and I'm glad she talked me into running,' Erik said.

Bill Jansen, Rugby coach, is also thankful knowing that Wangler had the makings of a solid runner.

"Erik has really come into his own the last couple of seasons,' Jansen said. "He gotten stronger and that's made a big difference."

Wangler lifted weights this summer and the added muscle has enabled him to run at a faster pace for longer stretches of time.

"I can run harder and I feel more energized,' he said.

He finished 17th at the Class B state meet in 2008 and followed that up with a 13th place showing a year ago, helping the program to its first state title.

Wangler said a top five finish is what he's pursuing this season and hopefully the team can defend its title.

His racing strategy is straightforward - get to the lead pack at the start and remain there until the finish.

"It's a lot easier to run at the front than stay back and have to catch a lot of runners,' he said.

It's been the competition that has been forced to chase down Wangler who is off to another good start this season. He recently won the Class B division at the R.M. Stoudt Invite in Jamestown.

"I feel like I'm in shape right now and want to keep improving my times,' he said.



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