Favorite athlete: Hank Aaron
Favorite team: Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports:Winning three consecutive 4x8 state championships
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: My teammate’s pants falling down during his leg of the 4x8 at the district championship.
Music on mobile device: Country
Future plans: Attend the University of Hartford and pursue a degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics as well as Track & Field.
Words to live by: “Great things never come from the comfort zone.” -Mo Farah
One goal before turning 30: Run at NCAA’s
By Ed Morrone
If glue is the adhesive that binds things together, then Luke Fehrman was the stickiness that held together and in turn propped up the Central Bucks West community for the last four years.
But when taking into account the overall breadth of Fehrman’s accomplishments, glue almost understates his presence. If anything, Fehrman was the super glue with the impression he left on the Doylestown high school not coming unstuck anytime soon, even after he graduates in a few short weeks.
In short, Fehrman was everything for Central Bucks West. He was a two-sport, all-league and all-state athlete in soccer and track and field (he also ran cross country concurrently during soccer season, and participated in winter indoor track, too). He also was an accomplished honors student whose exploits in the classroom will lead him to study Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Hartford where he will continue his track career. He was a volunteer, a leader inside and outside of the community and an inspiration to both his peers and teachers/coaches alike.
Fehrman’s track coach, Greg Wetzel, called him the glue of West’s nationally-recognized 4x800 relay team.
“Since his freshman year, he was never the fastest guy on the relay, but he has been the glue,” Wetzel explained. “Last spring as a junior on a team with many other state medalists and school record holders, Luke was not ranked higher than the third-fastest guy in any one event. Yet he was still our King of the Points for the season because he was always willing to answer the bell. That speaks volumes about his coachability, unselfishness, and mostly, his tenacity. He has been an absolute pleasure.”
In one of the best leagues in the country for the 4x800, Fehrman helped win four consecutive conference titles in the event that ranked in the top-10 nationally. He’s a three-time state champion and a six-time medalist in the event. His final state meet is this coming weekend in Hershey where Fehrman and his team expect to pick up more hardware. He’s won three state medals in the 4x400 relay, and two weekends ago, he added a 4x100 relay to his resume as conference champs. Fehrman helped West to another district title last weekend in the 4x800 and has represented the team four straight years at the Penn Relays.
Simply put, the kid can do it all, and it’s not too shabby for someone who didn’t start running competitively until sixth grade and was unsure if he would run track or stick to his first spring sports love of baseball. Fehrman started playing soccer much earlier, around first or second grade, and his early beginnings in both sports put him on a path to become one of the more decorated athletes at a school with a history full of them.
“Running is not the most fun thing, and it can be very painful,” Fehrman said. “But the friendship aspect, plus the feeling after running a really good time really did it for me. I was hesitant because of baseball, but I started to get really good at track and was urged to go out for the team as a freshman. I made the executive decision because I could see myself either playing soccer or running track in high school, so I decided to try both out and see where it took me.
“Track became my thing. It’s hard to put into words how much I love the sport and how much it has grown on me. Through all of my experiences and relationships I built with teammates and coaches, I knew that this was what I wanted to do in college.”
Fehrman’s overall speed that led to so many track accomplishments also helped turn him into an effective, versatile soccer player at the high school level. The two sports fed into one another, and West head soccer coach Stefan Szygiel deployed Fehrman all over the field in every position but goalie. He became a three-year starter, playing mostly at his natural position of defender but also wreaking enough havoc in the midfield and on the front line to score nine goals in his four varsity seasons. All of this talent and versatility led West to the state semifinals in Fehrman’s junior year before the team made history by winning its first district title in 2018.
“Luke’s natural abilities in track translated perfectly to soccer,” Szygiel said. “In track, he’s used to outrunning someone or chasing someone down, and we pulled from that natural ability. It made him a better player for us. I agree with his track coach that he is the glue that holds a team together, and for us, I’d say his best quality was being a ‘buy-in’ guy. He bought into whatever we threw at him out there.
“We don’t accomplish anything without guys like Luke exemplifying leadership and buying in. He was a part of, a piece of the machine, and nobody better exemplified that than Luke. He’s just an extremely likable, respectful, coachable, versatile, well-rounded individual.”
You might think that with so many respected coaches building him up, along with all of the hardware he’s collected over the years, that Fehrman might be feeling himself a bit too much. Quite the opposite is true.
“I wasn’t the best guy by any means, but as far as being known as the glue, I guess I always tried to be a team player first and put that before myself,” he said. “I wanted to make sure my teammates were comfortable, especially the less experienced ones on the relay team. I run better with a baton in my hand, and that hints at the team aspect. Over the years, I had a lot of success because I was running for something greater than myself.
“To me, four medals as a team is greater than one I might win individually. I think that’s why we were so good and had so much success on a national level: we all had the same mentality. I knew they were guys I could count on, and I wanted to display the same accountability so others could have the same success when it came to me. It showed me how to be a ‘West kid’ - that mentality to put others before myself, which in turn made me a more confident, strong-willed motivator, someone who could be reliable. So while I may not have been the best, I attribute a lot of my success to that.”
Another thing that helped Fehrman accomplish so much, something that speaks to his coachability, is that he understands the importance of perspective. For example, when West’s soccer team bowed out in the state semis in 2017, the team returned nine starters and was solely focused on a state title. Then, Szygiel simplified things for his players, telling them to avoid the big picture in favor of getting better on a game-to-game basis. Sounds simple, sure, but high school kids don’t always see it that way; however, for Fehrman and his fellow seniors especially, this attitude crystallized what was in front of them.
“We were so caught up in how good we could be,” Fehrman said. “I wouldn’t say we were arrogant, just really confident with all the experience. Once we refocused on getting a district title first, we knew that we could do something crazy and be remembered for something. When we won that game 2-1, we weren’t even thinking about states anymore because we still made memories and did something West never had before. It hit home for us.”
Never allowing for overconfidence to seep in helped Fehrman and his track teammates immensely heading into his senior campaign. If anything, it allowed Fehrman to once again recalibrate and refocus on what was in front of him.
After all of the success Fehrman and his 4x800 relay teammates had in previous years — especially his sophomore and junior campaigns when they were recognized nationally and finished tops in the state in Hershey — they still entered this year with a chip on their collective shoulders. Fehrman cited an article he saw before the season that intimated that West’s 4x800 dominance was over thanks to the graduation of three seniors. Pennridge had returned its entire relay team, and it almost felt like West’s reputation had been swept under the rug.
“I was like, ‘OK, wow, I guess they’re forgetting about me,’” Fehrman said. “Not that I had the biggest role on our team, but I still had the experience and knew we could put together another team that could have great success. It was all about Pennridge. I was angry people were giving up on our program so quickly without realizing what we still had.”
West finished fourth at indoors, but when the spring and Penn Relays came around, Fehrman and company again found themselves on top, showing the detractors how foolish it was to underestimate the heart of a champion. Fehrman said he recalls a coach at another high school hours away from West expressed incredulity that the Bucks could continuously put together such a strong team, no matter how many talented runners graduated.
“So, if I’m the glue, then I think in this instance as the most experienced guy left, I helped formulate the team and give us the confidence,” he said. “As in, ‘Hey, let’s prove them wrong. We still will amount to something.’ We won the district title this past weekend. Now, we’re the favorites again, and people are scared.
“We didn’t expect to be in the underdog position, but it really built our relay bond. Now we could win three consecutive state titles in the 4x800, which hasn’t been done before. Just like with soccer, we wanted to make history, and that’s what is motivating us heading into this weekend. We have the same confidence in ourselves and teammates, and to win another state championship would be incredible.”
Hearing the genuine maturity in Fehrman’s voice, it’s no surprise that his excellence extends far beyond the soccer field and track. He’s excelled in multiple advanced placement courses and is a member of the National Honor Society (NHS). Because of his inclusion in NHS, Fehrman has many opportunities to volunteer in his community, and he cited Habitat for Humanity, the Best Buddies program for children with special needs and has also lent a hand at an after school program at a local elementary school. Fehrman also has a part-time job working at a local CrossFit gym two nights a week, and it’s fair to wonder how he has the time to not only perform all of his activities, but perform them with absolute excellence.
“I’ve always tried to challenge myself and push myself past my comfort zone,” he said. “I liken it to track and breaking through that figurative wall of the last 150 meters of a race. I want to push myself past my known limits in sports, in the classroom and outside of it.
“Having success in class feeds into athletics and life by giving you more confidence. I think that will help prepare me for college and all the different things I’m going to experience. I know how to schedule and prioritize things, which will benefit me as a student-athlete at the next level.”
As far as Fehrman’s interest in prosthetics and orthotics goes, well, that comes back to track too. He recalled a track meet where he saw a kid whose school and name he can’t remember, but what stuck out about this boy was that he had a prosthetic limb and was still running and competing. Having always been interested in the sciences, these two things soon coalesced into a future career.
“I thought it was so cool to see someone who had lost the mobility and freedom of both legs, and he was still being successful,” Fehrman said. “It was so moving. It moved me to become interested in prosthetics, just thinking about all of the veterans with missing limbs or kids born with birth defects that caused them to miss a limb or two. It would be so great to help people to re-attain that freedom that they either once or never had. I knew right then that this was what I wanted to do.”
As fate would have it, the University of Hartford, where Fehrman will spend his next five years (the Prosthetics and Orthotics program at the school allows students to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in that time window), was one of approximately 10 schools nationally that offered this specific field of study.
“Now, I’m at the point where I can’t wait to finish my senior year so I can pursue a higher education and a more specified level of learning, in addition to continuing my track and field career at the collegiate level,” he said.
It sure won’t be easy to replace a Luke Fehrman at Central Bucks West. Just ask his coaches.
“We will be asking ourselves upon graduation,” Wetzel said. “Who will be the next Luke Fehrman?”
It’s not an easy question to answer.
As Szygiel added, “We might be able to recreate him in the aggregate because of the example he set to the younger kids, but recreating him as an individual? A special kid like Luke comes around maybe once every 10 years.
“Maybe one day I’ll get another like him, but in the short term, we will live with the mold he created on how to do things the right way. Hopefully, the young guys saw it. He’s the perfect example of giving a kid the rope and him knowing exactly what to do with it. He just understood it. He’s just a special, special individual, one we won’t recreate individually for years. I probably don’t have another Luke Fehrman in the pipeline at the moment, but I’m sure excited for the next one.”
Fehrman is genuinely affected by how his teachers and coaches and peers speak about him, and he wants them to know one thing: the feeling is absolutely reciprocated.
“I’ll miss the relationships the most,” Fehrman said. “The teachers pushed me academically and allowed me to experience failure while building me up as a student. It gave me confidence. The coaches allowed me so many opportunities to show who I am as a person and allowed me to experience success.
“A lot of CB West, to me, was a support group. It helped me grow from a child to a man. The friendships, too - it’s going to be difficult not seeing those guys every day because they helped shape me into who I am now. It means a lot to hear people say how hard I’ll be to replace. I guess I didn’t realize how much of an impact I had on so many, but they impacted me in the same way. I’m so blessed and grateful for everything I’ve been given.
“West will always be my home, and I can’t wait until I can bring my own kids back and show them the banner on the gym wall with my name on it. If they see their dad did these things in high school, I hope it teaches them to be role models for people. I’ve been fortunate, and it’s hard to think about leaving soon because it’s been such a big part of my life.”