By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
Lewisburg senior Sean Walker is not only a good pupil inside the classroom, but he’s also pretty apt on the cross country course for the Green Dragons.
Walker claimed his second consecutive Runner of the Year award from The Daily Item after putting together an even better season than he did a year ago.
“Sean was a better student of his sport this year, and he was committed to his training goals,” said Lewisburg coach Mark Sundberg. “This determination served him well daily, weekly and throughout the season as he sought to attain them.”
Walker won every dual meet he ran in this season, going 5-0, and his times got considerably faster as the year went on. He clocked in at 17 minutes, 44 seconds following his first dual, but by the end of the season he was running in the mid-16s.
“Sean’s undefeated dual meet performance certainly highlighted his season,” said Sundberg.
Also during the season Walker took 7th at the Big Valley Invitational (17:06) and 8th at the Spiked Shoe Invite (16:50), but in the postseason the Green Dragon really shined.
First, Walker won the HAC meet in thrilling fashion by holding off South Williamsport’s Griffin Molino, 16:40 to 16:41.
He then took second in the District 4 Class AA meet in a season-best time of 16:23 before finishing ninth at the PIAA meet in 16:39, the latter a major improvement from the 30th-place finish in 17:17 he had at states the year before.
“We had hoped for a top-10 finish, and we were thrilled with the determination and drive he exhibited to accomplish that against a very strong field,” said Sundberg.
Walker will be sorely missed by his coach and his teammates now that he’s run his final high school cross country race, but it won’t be just for the finishes and the points he supplies.
“Obviously, Sean has been a very valuable contributor to our team’s success throughout his career, and watching him grow as an athlete has been very rewarding, as well as motivating to his teammates,” said Sundberg. “Being a frontrunner can be lonely and even a heavy burden, but it also has many things on the plus side too, including being looked up to by your teammates.”
Coach of the Year
Sundberg has also been named The Daily Item’s 2012 Coach of the Year following an 18-0 season in which his Green Dragons claimed the Heartland-II title.
“I could not be any more proud of this team. They showed a lot of guts and determination every time out,” said Sundberg. “I don’t think too many people expected this of them, but they expected it of themselves, and that is the difference.
“This program feeds on its tradition of success and these athletes were driven to continue in that tradition.”
Along with going undefeated in dual meets, Lewisburg posted dramatic wins in the HAC meet where they beat Danville, 84-100, and also in the District 4 meet in which the Green Dragons edged Towanda, 88-89.
And then in the state meet Lewisburg finished eighth.
All of the aforementioned finishes made Sundberg extremely pleased, but the district win was the highlight of a great season he said.
“I think you’d have to count the district title as a signature win, but when a team goes undefeated, each one builds upon the previous one,” Sundberg said. “We had some injury and illness over the course of the year, but our guys really stepped up every time.
“Our training is constantly focusing on a healthy intrasquad competition, and that means at any given moment we have runners ready to move into a scoring position if needed. That happened a couple of times this season, and it is also one of the things I am most proud about this team.”