Coaldale, May 23 What happened to the interest in track and field competition in this sports-minded Panther Creek Valley?
Some of the finest athletes in District 11 annals have been produced in the area that stretches from Tamaqua to Nesquehoning. But the one-time cinder path powers from the Panther Valley were forced to play second fiddle in this year’s district meet in Allentown.
Coaldale made the best showing of Panther Valley schools by finishing third in Class B competition. The Tigers scored 39 points, 25 of which were tallied by Mike Domin, Burt Gbur and Tom Surotchak. But that was a far cry from the 101 points Coaldale rolled up in 1941 when the Tigers set an all-time record for team scoring in Class B.
Lansford, a school that stood up against the Class A powers like Allentown and Bethlehem at one time with a fine array of stellar athletes, amassed only 6 ½ points, and Summit Hill 3 points. Nesquehoning, which won the Class B team title only two years ago, was not entered in this year’s competition.
Lansford’s lone appearance this spring was in the district meet. The Panthers did not engage in one dual meet, a complete reverse from previous years when the school scheduled at least six rivals in dual competition.
“The bottom has suddenly dropped out on track interest in Lansford the past two years,” a spokesman for the school revealed. “Only a handful of candidates reported for the sport making it impossible for us to arrange a schedule of dual meets. It is not a very healthy sign since track has been a big help in conditioning our prospective football players.”
Another Panther Valley schoolman blames the dwindling interest on the fact the Coaldale Invitational meet was discontinued approximately ten years ago.
“That meet did more to generate interest in the sport than anyone can imagine. It was a case of inter-community rivalry that forced each school in the valley to battle tooth-and-nail for the team title.
“Coaldale officials discarded the meet when the school started to use Lansford’s stadium for its home football games and that was the beginning of the end for track and field competition in this region.”