Walker’s track homecoming spoiled

LEWISTOWN – Bob Walker ran into the record books on the track behind what is now Mifflin County Junior High School.

At Tuesday’s track and field meet between Mifflin County and Chambersburg, Walker’s coach, Ron Sprecher, fondly remembered his charge, now coach of the visiting Trojans.

Scott Gantz, Mifflin County’s coach, wanted to make Walker’s homecoming trip a memorable run – but not in a good way.

Chalk up one for the Huskies – the boys anyway. With a 79-71 win in the Commonwealth Division meet, Mifflin County made a statement about the state of its program heading down the stretch – and upset one of the top teams in the Mid-Penn Conference.

“For our boys that’s a big momentum shift going into the Mid-Penn Conference meet,” Gantz said.

The girls meet went to Chambersburg, 94-56.

Walker, a county record holder in the 800 as a Chief Logan athlete in the 1970s, remembers a different atmosphere when he was a student.

“When I ran here in this venue it was a cinder track – a three-lane cinder track,” he said. “It was a long time ago.”

Walker said he never envisioned Mifflin County and Chambersburg being conference rivals – having gone to school in the shadow of the Penn Highlands era, he might never have foreseen a single school in the county – but has tried to keep ties to the past alive by inviting Lewistown and Indian Valley to the Tim Cook Invitational, which is run at his school.

Once the Mid-Penn decision was made, Gantz started taking the Huskies to the Tim Cook. When they go to the conference’s largest school for the league meet May 11, it will be the third visit the locals have made to Chambersburg since last year. Tuesday was the first time the Trojans came the other way.

“Our team got to experience the bus ride to Mifflin County. When I got the schedule, the first thing I checked was, boy I hope Mifflin County and State College aren’t both away,” Walker joked.

“I’ve been looking forward to bringing my team to where I competed,” he said. “I don’t tell them many stories because they don’t care about what their old coach did back in the ’70s.”

And on Tuesday, none of that mattered. What counted was the Mifflin County boys’ strong performance on the track, where they won six individual events and swept the relays. Add a couple of firsts in the field and at least third-place points in every event in the meet, and it was pretty easy to see how the successors to Walker’s Mingoes were able to spoil his homecoming.

Jon Colwell was the only multiple event winner, taking the 800-meter and 3,200 runs. Darien Knudsen made it a trifecta in distance with the 1,600. With Shane Whalen’s win in the 400 and Ian McGinnis in the 200, there was but one non-hurdle race left for the Trojans. And the Huskies split the hurdles, with Nathan Baumgardner crossing first in the 110.

The field winners were George Donahey (long jump) and Zach Long (javelin).

“This is something that we’ve talked about since our last meet,” Gantz said. “With this being our last Mid-Penn Conference meet we wanted the kids to end their Mid-Penn season on a positive note. The boys ended up producing.”

The girls were hurt by a trio of Chambersburg sweeps, in the 200, 3,200 and pole vault. The Trojans also won two of three relays.

Getting firsts for the Huskies were Makala Rearick in the shot put, Makayla Pearce in the javelin, Megan Becker in the 400 and Erika Shawver in both the hurdle races.

“The Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division, every week, you better be ready to compete because all the schools are strong,” Walker said. “Every Tuesday you know you’re going to be in a battle.”

Mifflin County (Boys: 3-4; Girls 3-4) head to Altoona for the West Central Coaches Invitational Friday. The Huskies’ only non-league dual meet will be next week at Central Mountain before the Mid-Penn meet and districts.