By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP -- It's been a rough senior season for Shamokin senior sprinter Matt Gass, but he was certainly glad that on a comfortable spring day earlier this week, he was still working with his coach and trainer at Kemp Memorial Stadium.
The fact that his season is still alive is a tribute to his hard work and the encouragement of coach Mike Rogers and trainer Tom Swaldi.
Gass, who came into the season with the high expectations one might expect of an athlete who took the District 4 Class AAA meet by storm last year at Athens High School.
He won the 400-meter dash in what was an area season-best, 50.50 seconds, won the 800 in 2:00.27 and helped the Indians' 1,600- and 3,200 relay teams finish first and second, respectively.
"That was a big high emotionally and I had a lot of expectations coming off of that into this year," he said.
"But I think I put to much weight on my shoulders," he added.
That wasn't the biggest problem.
A week before the start of the season, Gass sustained a minor left hamstring pull. "It wasn't too bad, it was a minor setback, he said.
But things got worse.
About a month ago, with four weeks left until this past Saturday's district championships, Gass pulled his right hamstring.
"That one was pretty bad. It's still giving me trouble now, it's still sore," he said during a break from his stadium workout.
Gass, the son of Chris and Lisa Gass, sat out the rain-plagued Heartland Athletic Conference championships at Susquehanna University and rested for the district meet. On Saturday, he blew past a stellar field to win the 400 in 50.78 (his best on the season is 50.45).
Gass decided that, because of the injury, he would not challenge Williamsport standout Herb Stelly in the 800.