No track? No problem for Rockets

April 29, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

James Buchanan track coach Daryl Hunsberger admits that his intensity might rub some people the wrong way.

"I don't know what other coaches think of me, and I really don't care," he said. "I just know that my kids get respect when they come to town."

They've earned it. The JB girls beat Waynesboro 88-61 Thursday to capture the Mid-Penn Capital Division title, their seventh straight division title in the conference. The JB boys beat Waynesboro 93-57 for their third division crown in the last four years.

Getting the respect at home, however, hasn't been easy. The Rockets haven't had a home meet since 1998 because they have no track.


"It kind of has an advantage because we get out of school early for every meet," JB senior Jeremiah Kimberley, the Tri-State's top 800-meter runner the last two seasons, jokingly said. "But I'd rather have a track to have a home meet and have a home-team advantage. We have to drive everywhere."

If they want to practice on a track, the Rockets - there are 72 of them - have to drive across town to Mercersburg Academy, which they do about twice a week.

When they train at their school, they have to improvise.

"We have measured-out courses around the building," Hunsberger said. "If we run 400s, we start the kids and then the coaches drive to the other side of the building. If you saw it, you'd think it was a three-ring circus."

And you'd be wrong.

"My practices are highly organized," Hunsberger said. "And nobody complains. If you're going to complain, go home. What we do is not easy."

Winning year after year can't be easy. But the Rockets find a way to do it - on other people's tracks.

"It's taken a lot of years and a lot of hard work to get this success, to get kids to buy into it," Hunsberger said. "Now the program is self-producing."

For the program to further improve, Hunsberger said JB needs a track, like everyone else in the Mid-Penn has.

"If we had a track ... that's the next level," he said. "We don't have a middle school program. A track would get us the middle school program and expand my program."

It doesn't seem too much to ask for the school's most successful sport.

"The blueprints are done," Hunsberger said. "Everything is set except for the funding."

Rod Helfrick, president of the James Buchanan Athletic Boosters Club, said the all-weather track they want would cost $325,000 - seemingly much more than anyone involved has had to spend.

"My general feeling is that there's going to have to be a group of people who get together and push in one direction or another," Helfrick said, "whether to raise the money on their own or go to the school board and say, 'Look ... .'"

The athletes already have shown that they can earn money.

"In the last four years, my kids have achieved more than $200,000 in scholarship moneys," Hunsberger said. "That's the benefit of this program. I'm able to get kids out of the program to the next level. And the kids that don't still learn valuable life skills. I'm not just teaching track and field. I'm teaching what hard work does."

Warriors set county mark

Boonsboro set a Washington County record in the girls 1,600 relay at the Penn Relays on Thursday in Philadelphia.

Warriors Hannah Walla, Jessica Robertson, Sarah Hensley and Hayley Harnett combined to run 4:04.53. Williamsport set the previous mark of 4:07.83 in 2003.

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