The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 26, 2013

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


"He would get on a roll and I would just let him go. I was just the technical guy, but it was his show," Williams said.

Like Williams, my first memory of Lockcuff was from high school, where he was my history teacher at Line Mountain. He was an assistant coach in every male sport the school offered.

I remember one time when he was driving me home from baseball practice on his way home to Northumberland. He told a teammate, "You swing like a rusty gate."

No, he wasn't talking to me, but he could have been.

Years later, I ended up covering his teams and there was never a dull moment hanging out with Phil on some of those weekend road trips, especially those years that the Braves, and his former school, Line Mountain, competed in the Tool City Tournament in Meadville.

Once as he drove me to my car at about 4 a.m., he asked if I wanted to go with him to Dunkin Donuts. I declined. Even then, I was out of his league. I needed to sleep.

Many of his fellow coaches can tell you stories from those days. I just can't talk about them on the record.

Williams, and station management, now have the unenviable task of replacing a legend.

Another former Lockcuff protégé, former Braves head coach Brett Michaels, will do the honors today when the station airs the Big Seven meet with Bald Eagle Area in the Shikellamy Field house.

But Michaels will not be able to take over fulltime at this point because he is coaching at Lycoming College.

"After (today), we're not sure," Williams said.

Rest assured, whoever takes the job, it will be a tough act to follow.

To paraphrase former vice presidential candidate and senator, Lloyd Bentsen, during a debate with Dan Quayle, "I knew John Kennedy. John Kennedy was a friend of mine, and you, sir, are no John Kennedy."

And there will never be another Phil Lockcuff.

Rest in peace, old friend.

n Sports editor Harold Raker covers high school wrestling for The Daily Item. Email comments to

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