PHILADELPHIA - The Penn Relays has named its honorary referees for the 2009 Relays, which will take place April 23-25 at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Honorary High School Boys’ Referee
Curtis Cockenberg, the coach at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia for 33 years, is this year’s High School Boys’ Referee. Cockenberg, President of the Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) Track and Field Coaches Association, has won countless city team championships for St. Joseph’s in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track. In one stretch, his 4x100 teams were PCL champions four years in a row. Cockenberg has also coached state champions in events as disparate as the high jump and the 3,000 meters. In 2003 he was chosen Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania Independent School Cross Country Coaches Association.
Honorary High School Girls’ Referee
Cliff Robbins, a runner and coach for more than 40 years, is this year’s High School Girls’ Referee. A coach for 35 years, Robbins’s cross country teams at Council Rock North High School in Newtown have won 231 of their 241 dual meets. In track, his teams have won eight district and one state championship. The Bucks County Courier Times has named him its coach of the year 21 times. A runner himself, Robbins was a star distance man at E.L. Meyers High School in Wilkes-Barre before joining the Marine Corps in 1968. After returning from Vietnam, Robbins founded the Bucks County Road Runners, with whom he has run and coached ever since.
Honorary Carnival Referee
Bob Hersh, a renowned track announcer and administrator, is this year’s Honorary Carnival Referee. Hersh began announcing at the Armory in New York, his hometown, in the 1970s and eventually announced six Olympic Games, nine World Championships, and countless NCAA championships and Millrose Games. He succeeded Jack O’Reilly as Relays college announcer until his retirement from the microphone last year. A lawyer by profession, Hersh has served the USATF and IAAF for three decades. He is a member of the board of directors of USATF and is vice president of the IAAF and a member of its ruling Council. He has been named a technical delegate to the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London. A longtime fan of the Relays, he first attended the meet as manager of the track teams of two of his alma maters, Midwood High School in Brooklyn and Columbia University.
Honorary College Men’s Referee
Ron Warhurst, a track and cross country coach at the University of Michigan for 35 years, is this year’s Honorary College Men’s Referee. Warhurst has served as assistant and head men’s track and cross country coach for Big Blue and is currently the associate men’s head coach. In 1974, his first year as head cross country coach, his team won Michigan’s first Big Ten championship in the sport in 20 years. They went on to win six more. When his track team won the Big Ten in 2008, it was Michigan’s first such title in 25 years. He has tutored countless great runners, including Olympic bronze medalists Nick Willis and Brian Diemer. Warhurst, a native of Nutley, N.J., was a star runner in his own right in high school in New Jersey and at Western Michigan University before serving in the Marine Corps in the late 1960s. He was president of the NCAA Coaches Association from 1989 to 1991.
Honorary College Women’s Referee
Dennis Shaver, a coach at LSU for a dozen years and the coach of the reigning NCAA outdoor women’s team champions, is this year’s Honorary College Women’s Referee. During his tenure as the lead assistant coach in Baton Rouge for nine seasons, the Tigers won 12 NCAA men’s and women’s team championships. After becoming head coach in 2004, Shaver’s LSU squads were NCAA runner-up five times before winning the women’s title last spring. Shaver, a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, coached at Hutchinson and Barton County Community Colleges in his home state of Kansas before becoming an assistant coach at Auburn. He was named NCAA outdoor women’s coach of the year in 2008.