The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 26, 2013

Harold Raker's high school wrestling column: Wrestling loses a great ambassador

I saw an exciting dual meet on Thursday night and I have lots of leftover material from that Lewisburg win over Benton that was going to be used in this column.

In addition, I was going to give my take on the upcoming District 4 Duals, with the pairings to come out on Sunday.

You won't be reading about any of that today.

This column is reserved for a friend, not just to me, but to the wrestling community and beyond.

We lost a great coach, but more than that, a friend to anyone who ever wore a Shikellamy Braves singlet, and even those of rival schools, when Hall of Fame coach Phil Lockcuff left us early Friday.

What is especially sad is that, more than anything this season, the longtime coach and WKOK wrestling analyst, wanted to see his Braves clinch a berth in that D4 Class AAA tournament. They did that in his absence with a win over visiting Williamsport on Thursday night, two days after what would be Lockcuff's final broadcast. The Braves lost that one, to unbeaten Central Mountain, and needed one win in their two meets this week to qualify to meet Jersey Shore in next week's title match.

The coach was in the hospital that day and, not knowing the seriousness of his situation, the wrestlers all signed a card for him.

This for a man who left coaching before most of them were born.

Likely that was because, even throughout his 13 years as Steve Williams' broadcast partner, Lockcuff never stopped coaching and caring about the wrestlers in the program he helped build.

A case in point, as related to me Friday by Williams: After watching Shikellamy's freshman heavyweight wrestle against the Wildcats on Tuesday, Lockcuff, despite already ailing and in a weakened condition, approached Bacon afterward and, in his usual blunt way, told Bacon, "That's the worst I've ever seen you wrestle."

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