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Wingert Knows Triple Crowns


By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association 

There have been 11 Triple Crown winners. The last one was Affirmed which nosed out Alydar in three unbelievable races 36 years ago back in 1978. Perhaps California Chrome who won the 140th Kentucky Derby this past Saturday will make history by becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner next month in this Year of the Horse.

It turns out that a longtime player in Major League Soccer with over 200 games on his MLS résumé has a connection to the Triple Crown as Real Salt Lake defender Chris Wingert’s maternal grandfather, Warren Mehrtens, won it as the jockey aboard Assault in 1946. 

Not to be outdone, Chris won Long Island youth soccer’s Triple Crown—State Cup, Long Island Cup and the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) division title––with Commack United more than a decade ago. He also played for the LIJSL’s Deer Park Samba.

“I loved growing up on Long Island and playing soccer in the LIJSL,” Chris said. “There is great youth soccer on Long Island and I think that’s one of the primary reasons I have made it as a professional.”

The now 31-year-old was raised in Babylon and became a fixture with the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association Olympic Development Program, playing ODP for seven years. He also played four years with St. John the Baptist High School, then four years with St. John’s University and has represented the United States with both the Under-23 National Team and Men’s National Team.

Chris became the first player in Division I men’s soccer history to win the Hermann Trophy and the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete Award in the same season (2003), four years after receiving a LIJSL Scholarship. 

The patterns continue as Chris went on to become a pro soccer player as his father, Norman Wingert, did. In the 1970s, his dad played goalkeeper for the Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League and New York Apollo of the American Soccer League. 

“It’s important when you’re young to try and get in competitive environments as an athlete. It was always easy for me, when I was growing up, to find other good players to play with and against,” Chris added. “When I am done playing professionally, I plan on moving back to Long Island and being involved with the youth soccer there in some way.”

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