The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 28, 2014

Wary, Whaley named track athletes of the year

SUNBURY — Ryan Wary has yet to figure out the proper technique for the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, one of track & field’s more technical events.

Norman Whaley’s foray into the triple jump came by chance, after trying several other events.

Yet Wary, of Shikellamy, and Whaley, of Milton, excelled in those events, both winning District 4 Class AAA titles and Wary earning his school’s first PIAA AAA medal.

The two seniors were named The Daily Item’s Track & Field Athletes of the Year — Wary on the track, and Whaley in the field.

In addition, Whaley’s coach, Tom Leeser, was chosen as the Coach of the Year.


Ryan Wary

Wary had a day for the ages in his final district championship at Athens High School. Motivated by coming close to earning four gold medals in the district meet as a junior, he went to Athens and achieved one of his top goals, winning four district golds.

He won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the 300 hurdles and ran a leg of the Braves’ winning 400 relay.

He capped his high school career with an eighth-place medal in the 300 hurdles in the state meet at Shippensburg University.

“I’ve accomplished a lot and it’s been a true gift,” Wary said this week, while attributing his success to his faith in God.

It was that faith, he said, that enabled him to first get to the point, after knee injuries, of being able to even run four events in a meet.

There was no doubt that a healthy Wary was a threat to win any of the shorter races, and contribute to a relay win.

But the 300 hurdles was another story.

He worked hard, spending extra time with his hurdles coach, his father, Larry.

Looking back on what he was able to do with the hurdles, in spite of his shortcomings, made the hurdles both his least favorite and his favorite event.

He said winning the district title and medaling at states was “bittersweet.”

What he said about them sounds strange, but strangely makes sense: “I am not a very good hurdler and practicing the hurdles was definitely not a fun thing for me to do. But, in all honesty, the 300s are my favorite.

“It’s not just running; it’s the hurdling that gives me the biggest challenge,” he added.

He conceded that it is only the technique that is limiting his potential.

“I don’t know why I haven’t gotten it yet. It is definitely the goal to get it within the next couple of months for my freshman year,’’ he said.

Surprising even to him, Wary said his coach at Penn State-Harrisburg wants him to try to run the 400 hurdles in college.

His coach, Danielle Lynch, is a former qualifier for the Olympic trials in the event. “(Learning) the technique will help me reach further goals for the next four seasons,’’ he said.

Wary said he owes a debt of gratitude to many people who helped him reach his goals, starting with his track coaches, especially Dave and Jonny Evans and Randi Kunkel, along with his parents, Larry Wary and mother Linda McDonald.

In addition, he said one of his former football coaches, Mark Shoch, helped him immensely both on and off the athletic fields.

He also thanked former Shikellamy teammates Chase McKean, John Santangelo and Cory Bordner, who he said helped him make big strides from his freshman to his senior year.

He said he also thanks all of his teachers, some of whom probably cringed when he and his teammates ran the hallways getting ready for track season.

He also said he would not have reached his goals in the 300 hurdles without being pushed by several opponents, including Williamsport’s Weston Cuozzo, Milton’s Jason Guthrie and Jersey Shore’s Clay Newton.

Wary said he took a different approach at states this year, putting fun aside and making sure he got plenty of rest and sleep.

“I didn’t do anything fun, I stayed in my dorm,” he said. “I had already done (the fun things) and being serious and running well was the only thing left to do,” he said.

Coach Dave Evans said, “I think the 100 and 200 came more natural to him. The hurdles were something he struggled with, with his form. It was kind of one of those things where you always want something you can’t quite have.

“It was something he pushed for and pushed himself a lot harder, and the hurdles was something special to him.

Wary just missed a fourth gold medal in the 2013 district meet (the result of a dropped baton while leading the 400 relay) and it was something that motivated him and his teammates.

“After his junior year, he knew he had to go the extra mile and he really worked at it,” Evans said.

The coach said he is confident that Wary, who had offers from bigger schools, including one from Brown University his sophomore year, will do well at the Division III level.

“He really thinks that is a good spot for him and so do I,” Evans said.

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