Central York High School’s Gunther Gochenauer is a volunteer who helps with the pole vault during Saturday’s White Rose Track and Field
Central York High School's Gunther Gochenauer is a volunteer who helps with the pole vault during Saturday's White Rose Track and Field Invitational at Central York High School. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS --- JASON PLOTKIN)

It's not often a volunteer helping out at a track meet, such as Saturday's White Rose Invitational, has a "cult following."

But that is exactly how Central York pole vault and long jump coach Erin Walker described Central junior Gunther Gochenauer, who has served as a helper at the pole vault for three years.

"Gunther is definitely a huge asset to the team," Walker said. "Officials don't know my name, but they know his. I have him in a class too. This is what I get in the classroom with him."

It is tedious and repetitive work. After the bar gets knocked off by an athlete, Gochenauer takes his extension bar and puts it back into place, over and over.

He also makes sure the guide posts are in the right proper place for the competitors' preferred approach and helps make sure the pads around the pit stay where they need to.

Gochenauer usually has help around the pit. However, even the adults listen to him.

"We do what he tells us to do," said Mike Sharp, a Panthers parent who regularly helps out.

Days like Saturday's Invitational can be long ones, but that's OK for Gochenauer.

"I help out with the pole vault for all of our dual meets, so coach requested that I be here all day today," he said.

Certainly there are challenges.

"You realize putting the bar at 14 feet isn't as easy as it sounds," Gochenauer said. "It's more jumping on the mat. I haven't taken a face-plant today. Sometimes I catch my feet on the mat."

Still, Gochenauer is the man of the pole vault, just ask PIAA track official Bradley Ream.

"He is the best helper in the pole vault in York County," Ream said.
-- Steve Navaroli

* * *

Lee Davis' role of head track official Saturday went much smoother than three weeks ago at Central Dauphin East's Pan Ram Invitational. That day, the 72-year-old oversaw the javelin and with a row of houses about 30 or 40 yards behind him. As he normally would, Davis would bend down and announce the measurement for each throw.

"While I was doing that I heard this noise," he said, comparing it to the snap of a 35mm camera. "I thought, 'I wonder what made that noise?'"

He heard the zipping sound about twice but couldn't identify it. The third time, Davis knew the sound came from a pellet gun. Having spent six years in the Army, "I know what bullets sound like when they're going by me," he said. "Gun bullets are different, but still ..."

The pellet penetrated at least three layers of Davis' clothing and broke his skin near the lower left portion of his back.

"Luckily it was a warm day," he said, "and I had my jacket kind of hanging loosely."

Davis believes the pellet could have struck him deeper had that jacket been on tighter. He lifted his shirt and a pellet dropped into his hand.

"I said 'time out a minute, I've just been shot,'" Davis recalled.

Police responded shortly after a call was placed to 911. A suspect was apprehended near the houses identified by Davis, who is scheduled to attend a hearing in Harrisburg. Although he did not need the red jacket Saturday, the 29-year official brought the same one to Central York with the pellet hole still in it.
-- Matt Goul

* * *

Central York freshman Colin Kirkpatrick enjoyed volunteering at the White Rose Invitational so much last year that he came back for more. This year though, he has a vested interest in volunteering.

"I am a javelin and a shot put thrower," Kirpatrick said. "The javelin is cool. It is a long spear. It is just cool to throw a nine-foot long spear."

He spent his day Saturday pulling javelins out of the ground and returning them to their throwers. He also paid close attention to their technique so that he could pick up something for next year.

"As a javelin thrower, it is nice to see all the different techniques that come out from there. I haven't seen most of these guys throw and they have some pretty different techniques then what I have ever seen."

Kirkpatrick retrieved roughly 230 javelins on the day and jogged each of them back to the thrower, running roughly 11,400 feet.

"It wasn't really tiring," he said. "I used to run cross country, so this wasn't much comparison."
-- Mike Rubin