The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 19, 2013

Harold Raker's column on high school track and field: No resting on their laurels


Daily Item

---- — When his Milton boys team opened the season with wins over Lewisburg and Mount Carmel, two of the most successful teams in the area over the past several years, coach Tom Leeser had reason to be excited.

He knew he had the makings of a pretty good dual meet team. But he didn't want his athletes thinking that way.

Not just yet.

After all, if a coach doesn't worry about complacency, and preach one meet at a time, he stands to lose his coaching license.

Yet after Wednesday's impressive win over a good Southern Columbia team (the Tigers' lone loss was also to defending Heartland Athletic Conference Division II champion Mount Carmel), Leeser might have a bit of trouble keeping his kids on an even keel.

Maybe not.

Talking about their unbeaten record after the Southern Columbia win, two of the team's standouts, hurdler jumper Norman Whaley and mid-distance runner Wade Heidel, one gets the feeling that the Black Panthers are staying within themselves.

"It feels great," Heidel said. But, sounding like a coach himself, the sophomore said, "We have to take one meet at time and just do what we have to do."

He noted that the Black Panthers face good challenges ahead with Danville at home Tuesday and, later on, Montoursville and Central Columbia.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said, but added, "We're a long way from the end."

Meanwhile, Leeser must have done a good sales job early in the season with his athletes.

"To be undefeated this far, I feel amazing," Whaley, a junior, said. "Some of us were kind of doubting it, but we didn't tell the coaches right away."

For his part, Leeser, noting he doesn't have a lot of kids who are going to win three and four events a meet, said, "We have a lot of kids doing what they're supposed to do. We don't have a lot of superstars, but we don't have a lot of weaknesses."

GOOD TEACHER: Whaley wants to soak in knowledge to improve himself any chance he gets, and he did just that versus Southern. He spent time talking with one of the Valley's best, Southern's Luke Rarig.

"He is definitely one of those kids I want to learn from. He tells me how he learned from (former Southern state medalist) Matt Moore," Whaley said.

"I was getting tips from (Rarig) so I guess I was getting tips from him and getting tips from Matt Moore," Whaley said.

n Sports editor Harold Raker covers high school track and field. Email comments to hraker@dailyitem.com.