Shank ready for final push with Owls

April 23, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

No one can stereotype Nate Shank.

This coach's son is not pampered or spoiled or given any special treatment.

In fact, the senior Westminster High middle-distance runner has to hear about his mistakes much longer than his teammates.

"If I don't do well, I hear about it for 12 hours," said Shank, who played a major role in the team's first-place finish in the Westminster Invitational two weeks ago. "The other guys put it behind them as soon as they go home."

Home for Nate Shank is also home for Jim Shank, the head coach of the successful Owls track and field program.

The coach admits to a little preaching to his son but he said "it is only natural that I might tell him some things at home.

"I try not to get on him any more than I would anybody else. Like any dad, I let him know if he did something wrong," said the elder Shank.

For sure, the Shank dinner table is an interesting place to be these days as the Owls are shooting for a 17th straight county championship and eighth consecutive Central Maryland Conference title.

Every evening, Jim and Nate discuss the Owls' progress.

The conversation intensifies when another Shank (Wade) comes home from California (Pa.) State where he is a sophomore member of the track team.

"When Wade gets to talking about his workouts and best times, my mother [Lacye] gets a little upset," said Nate. "She says she never gets a chance to ask Wade how he likes school and things like that. I guess she hears enough about track from my dad and I."

Wade Shank was an outstanding senior on the Westminster track team while Nate was a sophomore.

Wade teamed with Jay Merker, Dion Stanton and Steve Kahler to win a 4A state 3,200-meter relay championship two years ago.

Now Nate hopes to do something special in the 4A state championships in his farewell season.

He is out to turn in two minutes flat in the 800-meter run, which would be one-tenth of a second faster than his time in the regionals and states (sixth-place finish) last year.

"I'm aiming for a top three finish in the states," said Nate, the veteran of three track and field and four cross country seasons. "To make sure I do it, I'll have to go out quicker than I normally do. I like sitting back and kicking at the end and I'm always better off when somebody is pushing me."

Jim Shank believes his son's chances of turning in a 2:00 finish are very good.

"He can do it because he has shown steady improvement since he started running a long time ago as a kid," said the coach. "And if he doesn't, it won't be the end of the world for him. He has always kept track in the proper perspective. He knows there are other things more important in life and that has helped him shake off a bad race."

Some of the "other things" that Nate Shank does well at Westminster High are: a straight A report card the first semester of this school year, vice president of the student government senate and vice president of the business club.

He plans to major in math at Shippensburg State and minor in computer science.

As the coach's son, Nate believes he has some responsibility to be a leader.

"Having Dad there, I have to show leadership," he said.

And now as the end of his high school career nears, Shank was asked about his top thrill.

"Just being able to run on the same team with my brother and having my dad coach me have been my biggest thrills," he said.

"I never got to run against my brother in the 800 but I felt I was getting close to him in times. My dad wouldn't let us race."

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