When it comes to establishing goals for the upcoming season, Shelby Wingler is swinging for the fences.
Or, more accurately, rotating toward them.
After placing second in the shot put at the state meet last June, the Center Grove senior wants not only to win in that event and the discus, but surpass the meet standards set by Tori Bliss of Portage (2011, 50 feet, 9 inches) and Lawrence Central’s Adriana Brown (2013, 168-6), respectively.
“Those are hanging on the wall at home,” Wingler said of the record throws, the most recent now nearly a decade old. “Those are the records held by the best of the best who have come before me.
“I want to make the same impact they made on the sport.”
Wingler has already taken ownership of school standards in the shot put (46-10 3/4) and discus (142-1), achieving the latter as a junior during the regional at Franklin last spring. She’s warmed up for this season with a top indoor shot put distance of 47-7 3/4 in a meet at Bloomington North.
Heady stuff considering Wingler didn’t become a track athlete until sixth grade, opting for events that didn’t include running.
Her freshman track and field season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Wingler more than up for lost time as a sophomore, taking home a sixth-place medal from the 2021 state meet in the shot put with a best of 41-8 1/4 and one for eighth in the discus (121-1).
That isn’t to say there hasn’t been disappointment.
Prior to finishing runner-up in the shot put at state in 2022, Wingler wound up an uncharacteristic 24th in the discus, her best throw being 98-7 with the first two of her three preliminary attempts being fouls.
“I was not there mentally, and there’s no way your physical performance is going to translate,” she said. “I genuinely had a bad outing, but it definitely gave me more to chase in the shot put.”
Not to mention this season.
Center Grove’s outdoor season begins with a dual meet at Pike on April 4. Four days later, the Trojans compete in the Columbus North Invitational.
Trojans coach Wes Dodson has never expressed concern about Wingler being ready for her final high school season.
“Since I’m the cross country coach, we would be running by the middle school in the fall, and Shelby would be out there practicing,” Dodson said. “Shelby is going to improve because she’s one of the hardest workers you’re going to find.”
Not only in track, but all aspects of her life.
In the fall, Wingler, who is ranked 48th academically in a class of 625 students with a 4.3 grade-point average, made visits to Kentucky, Purdue, Duke, Princeton and Cornell — all potential landing spots where she could continue her academic and athletic pursuits.
Being a Wildcat made the most sense.
Wingler plans to major in biology at UK, which features one of the nation’s elite women’s track and field programs. The school placed third at the 2022 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“When it came down to it, Kentucky was everything I was looking for in terms of a program and the coaches,” Wingler said. “It truly did feel like home. The city of Lexington wasn’t too big, so it was in my comfort level.”
Before she wears blue, though, there’s business to tend to while wearing red and white.