Much has changed since Carl Weigner began coaching high school track in 1958, but one thing has not: Good coaches find a way to get the most out of their athletes.
That’s what Weigner did for 12 years at Somerville, first as an assistant, then as head coach of the boys program over the past three seasons. Since he came out of retirement to help the Pioneers in 2000, they posted a dual-meet record of 89-1, won seven sectional titles and five Group II state championships.
Now the 75-year-old Weigner is slipping back into retirement, fresh off Somerville’s 11th divisional crown in the past 12 years — and three medalists at Monday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions.
“My wife says she’d like to see her dining room table sometime,” Weigner joked. “I’ve got track stuff all over the table. She’ll be happy to see the paperwork removed.”
Weigner will continue to serve as the Skyland Conference’s commissioner, but his illustrious coaching career is finished. After starting out in his native Pennsylvania, he arrived at Bridgewater West in 1966 and coached football, basketball and track until becoming the athletic director in 1979. Weigner remained at that post for 20 years — overseeing the department’s merger with Bridgewater East in the early 1990s before his first retirement in 1999. Within a year he was working a stopwatch at Somerville at the urging of Pioneers coach and longtime friend Dave Vaughn.
“He’s a tremendous guy,” said Vaughn, who is also retiring from coaching at the high school level. “When you go to a track meet he knows every coach and athlete. He knows how many points we’re going to get before we even get there. He plans very well — that’s always been his key.”
Weigner’s specialties are distance runners and high jumpers. Among his pupils were Kyle Calvo, a 7-foot high jumper and state champion who went on to star in the decathlon at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dan Stiles, who clocked 9:19 for 3200 meters and later competed for Harvard.
“We had some nice kids at Somerville and that keeps you hanging on,” Weigner said. “You get a couple of kids who are promising and you want to see their careers through.”
After serving as an assistant at Somerville under Larry Dubiel and later Tom Reynolds, Weigner took over three years ago because nobody else was interested.
“I’ve been involved in athletics for 62 years a player, a coach or an administrator,” he said. “I just could not step away. I’m addicted.”
With 75-plus athletes on the roster this spring and the Pioneers’ winning tradition continued, the time seemed right to hand off the baton.
“The program is in good shape,” Weigner said. “We have a lot of good kids coming back.”