Anyone associated with Northern Lehigh sports over the years knows who Mike Bonner is.
He might have retired as a teacher, but he's been a mainstay as a coach in the Bulldogs' athletic program.
This is Bonner's 32nd year as part of the Northern Lehigh track and field program.
"I actually got my start working the events at the track meets," Bonner said. "For the first 19 years, I worked the long jump, triple jump and high jump. Around 1980, they had an opening for me and I came on with Marv Miller.
"I've coached distance runners, the hurdles and the jumps. I've been coaching the hurdlers about 20 years."
Bonner has coached 16 kids during that time that went to states in the hurdles. "Bobby Sutjak was probably one of the best, if not the best I ever coached."
Bonner became an assistant football coach under Jack Cassenbaum in 1968 and spent 19 years on the sideline with George Yaniger, Dick Snell and then as head coach himself. When his son Sam got the Tamaqua head football job six years ago, Bonner became part of his son's staff and is still there today.
A member of the last graduating class of Nesquehoning High School in 1964, Bonner was a co-captain of the football team his senior year and then attended Kutztown State College and played four years there, lettering three years.
For now, Bonner continues to be a man on the scene for head coach Mike Lehtonen with the Northern Lehigh track and field team and can be found on the sidelines at Tamaqua High football games in the fall.
The Raiders ran through the regular season unbeaten this past year before losing in the District 11 playoffs to Pen Argyl.
PENN RELAY POSTS ... Tamaqua's Tyler Hope finished eighth in the high school boys' javelin at the Penn Relays over the weekend throwing 189-10 on his final attempt in the preliminary round. Tamaqua grad Kelsey Patrick, a Lebanon Valley College runner, took part in the Olympic Development 5,000m, one of just four Division III runners invited, and she ran a personal-best 17:48.60. Patrick became only the second runner in program history to break until the 18:00 mark. She was 30 seconds off the school record of 17:18 set in 2011. East Stroudsburg's Josh Hontz, a Jim Thorpe grad, who owns Division II's eighth best mark at 207-3, was 20th in the Men's College Javelin at 187-6. Palmerton grad Lanny Buck, now at Kutztown University, cleared 15-7 (4.75 meters) to finish tied for fourth in the Men's College Pole Vault.
TN SUCCESS AT ASD INVITATIONAL ... A total of 10 TIMES NEWS area bests, including one all-time area record, was set Friday at the ASD Invitational at J. Birney Crum Stadium.
The Northwestern girls 3200 relay team set a school record by finishing in 9:34.39. While the Tigers placed second in the race, losing out to North Penn by just four one-hundredths of a second, their time also broke a 33-year old TN record. The previous mark of 9:39.8 was set by Palmerton back in 1980.
Pleasant Valley's John Wathen won two events at the invitational, claiming both in TN area-best times. Wathen took the 800 in 1:59.44 and the 1600 in 4:26.25. Others who won events at the meet include Palmerton's Jess Pereira (100), Lehighton's Gwen Remaley (shot put) and Northern Lehigh's Caleb Johnson (110 HH).
Johnson added a fourth place in the 400, setting an area-best time of 50.60. Others who posted TN bests at the meet include: Palmerton's John Snyder (second in shot put, 52-7), Austin Shupp (third in 300 IH, 39.82), Lauryn Solt (fifth in triple jump, 35-3 1/2), and the girls 400 relay team (second, 50.18), and the Marian boys 1600 relay team (second, 3:31.92).
OLYMPIAN BOYS WIN TITLE ... In its first appearance at the Pine Grove Invitational since 2010, Jim Thorpe won the boys' team title with 107 points. The Olympians received wins from Jake Saxon (1,600), Jonathan Condly (3,200), Khaaliq Lynch (long jump) and Deonte St. Hill (triple jump). Tamaqua was third in the girls standings with 54 points. Among the locals to set records were Tamaqua's Eric Hertzog in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.9, breaking his own record of 14.7 set last year. Maria Streisel of Tamaqua's distance in the long jump (17-5) set a new record. The previous mark of 16-6.5 was set by Tamaqua's Megan Inama in 2008.
NOTHING BUT ZEROS ... Tamaqua posted a 9-0 win over Jim Thorpe this past Friday. The Blue Raiders, who own a 10-4 record, now have six shutouts this season. Included in those six was a stretch of three consecutive blankings earlier this month. Opponents have only scored 13 runs in Tamaqua's 10 wins, an average of 1.3 per game. The Raiders have also been shut out twice, meaning that in eight of their 14 games one of the teams failed to score a run.
HIT PARADE ... The Bangor and Northern Lehigh baseball teams played a wild 22-14 Colonial League game, won by the Slaters, this past Friday. The 36 combined runs are the most this season in a game involving a TIMES NEWS area team. The previous high was 23, which was set when Pottsville defeated Jim Thorpe 16-7 on April 10. Ironically, the highest combined output in a softball game involving a TN team is 31 when Bangor edged Northern Lehigh, 16-15, back on March 27.