By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SUNBURY - Hall of Fame Shikellamy wrestling coach Phil Lockcuff had one last team meeting on Tuesday morning.
“I want to ask everyone that Phil coached to come to the front of the church,” said teary-eyed former wrestler and current Shikellamy school board member Jeff Walter during Lockcuff’s funeral Tuesday. “We have one more meeting with coach.”
The news that Lockcuff, 75, died at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville last week hit the community hard. Several hundred arrived at Zion Lutheran Church at Market and Fifth streets to pay their respects.
One-by-one people filed into the church as “Amazing Grace,” played to start the ceremony.
Lockcuff led the Braves to three state titles during his Hall of Fame career and coached Shikellamy for 24 years, leading his team to PIAA Class AAA titles in 1984, 1985 and 1991. He coached a dozen PIAA individual champions as well and finished his career with a record of 346-71-6.
Lockcuff, who was still active with the program as a radio announcer, called last week’s match against Central Mountain. He was inducted into the Pennsylvania Coaches Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Hall of Fame in 1998.
“It’s hard for me to be up here today talking about coach,” said Walter, himself a former Braves coach and a college NCAA wrestling champion.
More than 15 former wrestlers surrounded Lockcuff’s casket at the front of the church and Walter spoke softly to the former Braves.
Walter was one of several speakers who told stories of their days with Lockcuff.
“I want to apologize before I even start,” Shikellamy school board director and Lockcuff friend Jim Garman said. “I wrote these stories about him. He was my friend and I know one day we will meet again.”
Former North Schuylkill wrestling coach Joe Cesari talked about how he and Lockcuff had great friendly battles in the 1980s.
“I remember all those great times we had,” Cesari said. “If you didn’t have a ticket by 5 p.m. you weren’t getting in to see a Shikellamy-North Schuylkill matchup.”
Former Shikellamy head coach Brett Michaels sat in attendance and might have summed up the last several days.”
“It is a sad, monumental day for hundreds of student-athletes, friends and family members,” he said.
“Not only was Phil an ambassador for the sport of wrestling but he was a role model for all who met him. He was a coach. He was a teacher. He was a friend.”
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