By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Mike Walter II can't help but be interested in auto racing.
He's the son of sprint car driver Mike Walter, and nephew of another, Phil Walter, and the senior at Selinsgrove has already raced a 410 sprint car at Port Royal Raceway and has also raced at Big Diamond Raceway and Selinsgrove Speedway in his young life. In fact, the younger Walter has been driving either a race car or a go-kart since he was a little kid.
This means a decision Walter -- also the son of Jan Brunson of Middleburg -- made earlier this year seemed strange at first glance.
"I decided I wasn't going to race this summer," Walter said. "I decided to give up racing for a couple of years."
However, there was one big factor in Walter's decision. It was a chance in his senior year to return the Seals to prominence and erase the memories of a 1-9 season in 2011.
"Mike was always a source of comfort for the coaching staff (in the bleak times)," Selinsgrove coach Dave Hess said. "He always had the confidence that we were going to turn this thing around this year. He always takes the leadership role and makes the right decisions."
So to give up one of his life's passions wasn't so surprising.
"We used last season as motivation (in winter workouts)," Walter said. "Then in the preseason, we were picked second-to-last in the Heartland and that served as another kick in the butt to fire us up."
Fast forward to the weekend of Thanksgiving and the Seals are in a familiar position -- District 4 Class AAA champions and headed to Mansion Park in Altoona to take on University Prep at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.