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Best of SNO

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Boredom Fuels Success

Zach Wenger is a perfect example.

Senior Zach Wenger is not a fan of boredom.

During the fall season alone, he was involved in varsity cross country, marching band, choir, and swim team. Despite his split focus among these activities, he remains incredibly successful in every single one.

Wenger qualified for state cross country this year, which is a goal he’s had since his freshman year. But what’s not as obvious as Wenger’s successes are the obstacles he faced along the way.

Minutes after Wenger ran a 17:11 5K at the district meet and qualified for state, he was limping back to base camp.

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“When I qualified for state at districts, I had an overuse injury,” Wenger said. “I was limping, I had to wear a brace, and I was on crutches for three or four days afterward. We’d gone to physical therapy and tried everything we could, but I couldn’t run on it after districts.”

Wenger went into the state meet with a resolution to finish the race, whatever it took. “Start to finish, my ankle was hurting, and I was limping through the race,” he said. “But I knew that because I had made it this far, I had to finish.”

His cross country coach, Dale Meyer, believes that Wenger’s leadership elevates their whole program. “Zach has been the ultimate leader all four of his years in high school cross,” Coach Meyer said. “He’s played a big part in improving the overall culture of the program through his outstanding work ethic and leadership, and he does all this while juggling so many outside activities.”

Even though Wenger was squeezing choir lessons in between cross country, early morning marching band rehearsals, and swimming practices in Dubuque, he was a leader for his All-State singing quartet.

Wenger was accepted first-round into the Iowa All-State Choir, which is an accomplishment that takes months of work and dedication. Each accepted singer must memorize five to six classical choir songs and sing them without accompaniment to a judge. Wenger was one of thousands who auditioned and only one of 600 who were accepted.

Gil Johnson (11) auditioned with Wenger, and he was also accepted into the honor choir. “I’ve looked up to Zach for my whole high school career,” Johnson said. “He’s always pushing us to be our best, and it obviously paid off, because we made All-State first round this year.”

Zach also juggles swim practice in Dubuque. He made it to the state swim meet last year, and he’s determined to do it again. His younger brother, Braden Wenger, looks up to Zach for his accomplishments and aspires to keep up with him.

“When we’re in the water, it’s always a competition,” Braden said. “He’s fast, but I can catch him. We push each other to work harder.”

“I want to make sure that I’m always doing something to build myself into a better person for tomorrow.”

— Zach Wenger (12)

Wenger looks up to his parents, his teammates, and, of course, Michael Phelps. “I mean, he went to the Olympics at 16 years old,” he said. “He has the kind of dedication that I work toward every day.”

“I think any student at West Delaware can learn something from Zach,” said Ethan Grawe (12), Zach’s friend and cross country teammate. “He’s probably one of the hardest working kids in this school, but he’s not the only one. A ton of kids are involved, which is great.”

Wenger likes to stay focused on his goals. “I’m not a fan of being bored,” Wenger said. “I want to make sure that I’m always doing something to build myself into a better person for tomorrow.”

This story was originally published on Inklings on November 13, 2023.