---- — By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- As an athlete, working through an injury while trying to reach the top level of your sport can have the coaches and the athlete walking a tightrope.
Selinsgrove senior jumper/sprinter Travis Lockcuff has experienced that frustration since he broke an ankle during his junior football season. He battled through the injury during last track season, after skipping his sophomore year, and entered the 2013 season with a sense of urgency.
Lockcuff, son of Robert and Deann Lockcuff, of Shamokin Dam, is participating in an organized sport for the last time. The son of the retired Shamokin Dam police chief, and nephew of the late Shikellamy wrestling coach, Phil Lockcuff, Travis plans to study computer engineering and security at ITT Tech in Harrisburg.
So this is the last ride as a Seals' athlete.
"It definitely motivates me because I only have a couple of weeks left. It definitely pushes you to work harder to meet your goals," he said this week.
Working hard, and getting the necessary rest have gone hand in hand for Lockcuff since the football injury. The latter reared its ugly head again last Saturday at the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference championship meet in Selinsgrove.
Lockcuff qualified in the morning, when the weather was miserable, for the 100 and 200 finals, but during a run-through in the long jump he twisted the ankle again.
"Coming into the season I was fine, but the last three weeks it started bothering me," Lockcuff said.
He finished the long jump, getting sixth place with a jump of 20 feet, ½ inch, but his day was over.
Lockcuff planned to run the 100, 200 and the 4x100 relay along with the long jump.
"We sent him home to rest it," coach Ryan McGuire said Saturday afternoon.
The Seals did not enter the relay.
Lockcuff said earlier this week that his ankle feels fine and he is ready to go for today's District 4 Class AAA championships at Susquehanna University.
He noted that he has a pinched nerve, a reoccurring problem as a result of the injury so the last two weeks, he was resting it as much as he can while trying to get ready for the post-season.
"It's definitely tough, but I know if I work too hard every practice it will keep getting worse. I have to get rested up for the big meets," he said.
He is focusing on his favorite events, the 100 (his best is 11.42 seconds) and the long jump (21-11 ½) as well as the relay, which has a best of 44.42.
Lockcuff believes he has a good chance to win the title in the triple jump and advance to the state meet the following week in Shippensburg for the first time in his career.
"During the meet (last) Saturday, my last jump was right on the board, but the ankle gave out and I made a bad jump. I made it into the finals, but I wasn't able to do too much," he said.
He said it was frustrating to have run in the rain in the morning, then having to sit at home while everyone was running in the nice weather that followed in the afternoon.
He went to Susquehanna during the week and worked with the long jump coach.
"I worked on my run-throughs and in 10 run-throughs I hit the board every time. I didn't do any jumps, but every run-through felt good. I'm definitely getting better," he said.
Today, he plans to run everything but the 200.
He said the relay team has been working on its handoffs and believes they have a chance to place high in today's meet. But, for him, the biggest focus is on the long jump, an event in which he believes he has a good chance to get to states.
"Before this year, his best came in last year's district meet in Athens, where he jumped 20-6. Last week, he had a 21-8, but missed the board by a half inch. "I can get out there, I just have to hit that board," he said.
Entering the season, he said, "I definitely wanted to be No. 1. I knew I had the potential in the district meet and to go to states in the long jump,"
"Halfway through the season, they threw me into the 100, " he said. "I ran the 100 my junior year and also did it my freshman year. But since the long jump and the 100 are at the same time, they wanted to keep me fresh for the long jump.
But, he added, "When they threw me in the 100 as a junior, the coach told me I was hired."
Now, he just has to hope the ankle holds up for today and, hopefully, one more week on the big stage.
If it does, Lockcuff may make one more big splash before he hands in his spikes for good.