Chester boys track coach Jamie Wharton has received many accolades over his long career as an athlete and coach. He's about to receive another honor: Hall of Famer.
Wharton is one of the 14 men and women who will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame when the organization holds its indoor state championships Saturday at Penn State.
"I'm excited, but it does make me feel a little old," Wharton said. "It's a great honor."
It is a distinction that is well deserved. Wharton has coached a number of state champions during his 22-year career, notably Roosevelt Turner (indoor 200) and Adonis Coles (outdoor 110 hurdles).
As an athlete, he was one of the best in Chester history. Wharton held the state record in the 800 for a year when he ran 1:50.86 while winning the Golden West Invitational in Sacramento, Calif., as a senior in 1982. He was the PIAA Class AAA 800 champ that year and anchored the Clippers to the Class AAA title in the 4 x 400 as a junior and senior. The county 4 x 800-meter record he and A.J. Thompkins, the girls coach at Chester, Steve Pollack and Craig Jackson set while finishing second in the PIAA championships in 1981 still stands (7:38.83).
"That's a lot of quarter-miles and half-miles," Wharton said. "It took a lot of hard work, but worth it. I'm happy to be going into the Hall of Fame."
Wharton will be coming home from State College with some hardware. Many Delco athletes hope to do the same. Episcopal Academy's Sam Pope, Upper Darby's Cecil Simpson and Reggie Harris of The Haverford School are seeded first, second and seventh, respectively, in the triple jump. Simpson was second in the triple jump last year.
Cardinal O'Hara and Penncrest are seeded second and third in the 4 x 800. Cardinal O'Hara's Lamont Veal was eighth in the 60-meter dash while teammate Kevin James was seventh in the mile. James is running the 3,000 this year.
On the girls side, Cardinal O'Hara is the top seed in the distance medley relay. The Lions finished second last year and have three runners returning from that team. Strath Haven is seeded second in the 4 x 800 and fourth in the 4 x 400. Upper Darby is seeded second in the 4 x 200.
Upper Darby's Claudine Andre is seeded second in the long jump and third in the high jump. Lawren Wright from Penn Wood is the third seed in the triple jump.