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Susquehanna graduate Teresa Covert grazed the first hurdle and quickly found herself behind the pack in the National Collegiate Athletic Association East Regional 100-meter hurdles finals.
Covert used a comeback to add the most impressive accomplishment of her comeback after two years away from sports because of family commitments.
With a late surge, Covert grabbed fourth place in the region and one of the five berths in the June 11-14 nationals at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium.
"I knew I was falling back during the race," Covert said in a press release on the University at Albany Web site. "I tried to dig deep and catch up, and was able to pass two or three runners at the last hurdle and sprint to the finish.
"It's more relief right now because that was close."
Covert's effort at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. made her the first Albany women's track athlete to reach nationals in Division I. The school qualified six competitors for Division II nationals in 1997 and made the jump to Division I in 1999.
The performance at regionals capped a big week for Covert.
Covert was named Albany's Female Athlete of the Year May 27 when Director of Athletics and Recreation Lee McElroy announced the voting of the 19 head coaches in the school's athletic program. She is the first women's track athlete to receive the honor.
Covert was also fourth in qualifying as the field of 26 entries was trimmed to eight. She finished qualifying in 13.47 seconds, just six-hundredths of a second off her school record.
South Carolina's Tiffany Ross won the final in 13.12 seconds, followed by Miami's Sharianne Lawson in 13.25, Florida's Andrea Bliss in 13.31, Covert in 13.54 and Georgia's Hyleas Fountain in 13.59.
Covert and Fountain had to edge Syracuse's Opal Jones (13.60) and Georgia Tech's Dana Rogers (13.67) to secure the last two spots.
"When you're a runner, you're always looking ahead so I haven't had time to think about this accomplishment," Covert said. "But I am amazed at how it has all happened; I had no idea how far this would come in such a short period."
In her first year back in competition after leaving Temple then transferring to Albany, Covert, a junior, became the first Albany woman to win an ECAC title. She was both an ECAC and America East Conference champion in the 100 hurdles.
Covert also qualified for regionals in the 100-meter dash and long jump but passed up those events to concentrate on qualifying for nationals in the hurdles.
Covert's conference championship effort in the 100-meter dash included a time of 11.60 in qualifying to break a 16-year-old school record. She helped the school to second place, its best finish ever, by also anchoring the second-place 1600-meter relay team to a school record and finishing third in the triple jump in 40-3 ¼.
During the indoor season, Covert was the America East 55-meter hurdles champion, was second in the long jump and fifth in the 200 meters. She set school indoor records in the hurdles and long jump.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Elk Lake pitcher LeeAnna Roberts handled Mid Valley cleanup hitter Mari Valonis with the tying run just 60 feet from home plate during Wednesday's District 2 Class A softball championship game.
When second baseman Tara Dymond fielded Valonis' 0-2 groundball and threw to first, the Lady Warriors had completed an impressive run to the district title with a 4-3 victory.
The Lady Warriors beat three higher-seeded teams, including two that had gone unbeaten in league play, to join the school's top-seeded baseball team in capturing district titles.
The Warriors won the baseball title a day earlier with a 9-6 victory over Riverside.
Although the softball team has had a strong season and is now 16-3 overall, its build-up to championship level was a bit more gradual.
Coach Tony Blaisure points to each of the last four games as building the team's momentum.
"I did feel this was a possibility," Blaisure said. "I felt we had been playing our best ball at the end of the season. At the end of the league season, we beat Lackawanna Trail, 2-1."
That hard-fought victory was the right preparation for making the transition from league play to the district playoffs.
"Throughout the regular season, we did play very well and we hit the ball hard," Blaisure said.
It almost went to waste when the fifth-seeded Lady Warriors lost a seventh-inning lead against fourth-seeded Bishop Hafey in the quarterfinals.
Elk Lake recovered with two runs in the eighth for a 5-3 victory.
"From that point on, we've been playing with a lot of confidence," Blaisure said.
So much confidence that the Lady Warriors could not be stopped by top-seeded Blue Ridge, a state finalist a year ago. Another extra-inning win, this one by a 5-4 score, put Elk Lake in the final against defending district champion Mid Valley.
Jamie Sanfilippo, who had the game-winning homer against Bishop Hafey, had a double and scored two runs, including the first of the championship game.
Shortstop Katie McKeon had three hits and the Lady Warriors never trailed.
Amber Sickler bunted successfully in the sixth inning and reached on a fielder's choice on the play. She eventually scored on a passed ball to build the lead to 4-1.
Mid Valley rallied, but Roberts finished off the Spartanettes. She walked just one batter in the complete game and struck out three.
The baseball team needed two rallies to produce its district title.
Riverside jumped in front with two runs in the first inning, but Elk Lake immediately showed its offense would be a factor by bouncing back with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
The Vikings tied the game in the fifth and took the lead in the top of the sixth.
Tony Dorman and Collin Lunger started the bottom of the inning with back-to-back hits and the Warriors went on to score four runs. After a Riverside error, Paul Roman and Ty Emmerich also had back-to-back hits.
Elk Lake's offense had just eight hits, but it put them together well.
After the Warriors loaded the bases in the first inning, Lunger and Tom Blaisure got the scoring started with consecutive two-run singles.
Lunger, Blaisure and Roman each scored twice and drove in two runs. Emmerich joined Lunger with two hits.
Seth Button came on in relief in the first inning and went the rest of the way to get the pitching win.
With their district titles, both Elk Lake teams earned the chance to start the state playoffs close to home. They were scheduled to open against District 11 opponents Monday at Marywood University. The softball team was set to face either Pottsville Nativity. The baseball team was facing Panther Valley.
In professional baseball, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons' Marc Bombard, who leads all active minor-league managers in career victories, has been selected to lead the International League team against the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star Game July 16 in Memphis.
Bombard was named IL Manager of the Year last season when he led the Red Barons to a North Division title and a franchise-record 91 wins. In his seventh season as Red Barons manager, he is seeking a fifth straight trip to the playoffs.
It will be the second assignment as manager in four years for Bombard. He also represented the Red Barons as manager in 2000.
His fourth appearance, including two as a coach, will set a record for the Triple-A All-Star Game, which is in its 17th season.
If either Elk Lake team wins Monday, it would play again in the state quarterfinals Thursday.
The first UNICO Soccer Cup Match for Lackawanna Soccer League seniors will be held Wednesday at Lackawanna County Stadium. The girls' game starts the doubleheader at 6.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
RYAN NEWMAN Wins At Dover From Pole
Dover, DE Ryan Newman's up and down season ended this past Sunday in victory lane after he took the checkered flag in the Winston Cup MBNA Armed Forces Family 400 ahead of Jeff Gordon.
Newman, who qualified on the pole, had one previous win at Texas in March, but he has also had a lot of wrecks and mechanical failures that resulted in poor finishes.
Newman took the lead from Jeff Gordon on lap 327 of the 400 lap race. He lost it briefly to Dale Earnhardt Jr. when he brought his No. 12 Alltel Dodge in for the last pit stop for four tires on lap 364.
He regained the lead on lap 367 and easily held off Gordon, who finished second.
"Having a good race car is what it's all about," said Newman. "The team has always done a good job, but today our luck held and we knew we were headed for a win."
Newman did have problems as his power steering went out about halfway of the race.
"We had an awesome race car all day," said Gordon. "Unfortunately, we had a poor pit stall and this hurt us.
"We had one set of good tires, but the last set made the car tight. I really don't know what I would have done with him (Ryan Newman) if I had been able to pull alongside."
For Bobby Labonte, who finished third, it was his fifth consecutive top-5 finish.
Tony Stewart, who finished fourth had a strong car and was the leader in the early going, but during a pit stop his car was over the black line and he was assessed a one-lap penalty by NASCAR.
Stewart got back on the lead lap during a caution but he was never able to challenge the leaders before the race ended.
The fifth-place car was the No. 10 Valvoline driven by Johnny Benson.
Rusty Wallace, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Craven, Robby Gordon, and Terry Labonte rounded out the top-10.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Ryan Newman, 2. Jeff Gordon, 3. Bobby Labonte, 4. Tony Stewart, 5. Johnny Benson, 6. Rusty Wallace, 7. Matt Kenseth, 8. Ricky Craven, 9. Robby Gordon, 10. Terry Labonte.
Top-10 Winston Cup points leaders after 13 of 36 races: 1. Kenseth-1945, 2. Earnhardt Jr.-1774, 3. J. Gordon-1758, 4. B. Labonte-1716, 5. Busch-1698, 6. Waltrip-1631, 7. Johnson-1606, 8. R. Wallace-1556, 9. Harvick-1539, 10. R. Gordon-1473.
Will New Rules Help Busch Regulars? NASCAR officials have altered their weekend inspection schedule in the Busch Series to reduce the advantage Winston Cup drivers gained through additional track time.
This past weekend at Dover, NASCAR opened the Busch garage an hour early and moved the start of inspections up one hour.
Although the move covers all drivers, Cup drivers entered in Busch races are most affected since they will be no longer be allowed to make changes on their Busch cars after their Saturday morning Winston Cup practice sessions.
Full-time Busch drivers have long complained Cup drivers gained further advantage by using information gathered in Saturday morning practice sessions to adjust their Busch cars prior to the Saturday races.
NASCAR says changes can't be made to cars once they have received their inspection stickers.
The new rule didn't help this past Saturday because the winner of the Busch Series MBNA Armed Forces Family 200 was Winston Cup regular Joe Nemechek.
NEMECHEK Gets Third Busch Win Of Season The top ten results of the NASCAR Busch Series MBNA Armed Forces Family 200 run Saturday, May 31 at Dover, DE: 1. Joe Nemechek, 2. Scott Riggs, 3. David Green, 4. Matt Kenseth, 5. Brian Vickers, 6. Bobby Hamilton Jr., 7. Todd Bodine, 8. Kasey Kahne, 9. Mike Bliss, 10. Ron Hornaday.
Top-10 Busch Series points leaders after 14 of 34 races: 1. T. Bodine-1947, 2. Riggs-1871, 3. D. Green-1863, 4. Bliss-1804, 5. Hornaday-1797, 6. Keller-1759, 7. Vickers-1747, 8. Hmiel-1715, 9. Sauter-1674, 10. Hamilton Jr.-1673.
LEFFLER Gets His First Truck Victory The top ten results of the Craftsman Truck Series MBNA 200, run Friday, May 30 at Dover, DE: 1. Jason Leffler, 2. Bobby Hamilton, 3. David Starr, 4. Jon Wood, 5. Travis Kvapil, 6. Ken Schrader, 7. Chad Chaffin, 8. Rick Crawford, 9. Dennis Setzer, 10. Robert Pressley.
Top-10 truck leaders after 6 of 25 races; 1. Hamilton-996, 2. Crawford-953, 3. Kvapil-884, 4. Gaughan-873, 5. Musgrave-871, 6. Setzer-822, 7. Leffler-799, 8. Cook-781, 9. Wood-777, 10. Chaffin-763.
The three major NASCAR divisions are all at different venues. The Winston Cup series is in Pennsylvania, while the Busch boys are at Nashville, TN, and the Craftsman Trucks go to Texas Motor Speedway.
Friday, June 6, Craftsman Truck O'Reilly 400, race 7 of 25, 167 laps/250.5 miles, 9 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, June 7, Busch Series Chrome 300, race 15 of 34, 225 laps/300 miles, 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Sports Channel.
Sunday, June 8, Winston Cup Pocono 500, race 14 of 36, 200 laps/500 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Winston Cup team does Joe Nemechek drive for?
Answer To Last Week's Question: Herb Thomas was NASCAR's first two-time (Grand National) champion (1951, '53).
Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter is a syndicated NASCAR columnist. If you have a racing question that you would like answered send it to The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL, 36616, or e-mail it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Montrose graduate Lee Hawley recently signed with the Reading Rage Pro Soccer Team. The Rage competes within the USL Pro Select League and is based in Reading, PA.
A graduate of Kutztown University, Lee was a four-year starter on defense for the Golden Bear Soccer Team and competed two seasons with the Ukrainian National Amateur Team in Philadelphia.
Lee is the son of Bob and Corrine Hawley.
The Blue Ridge Sportsmens Club will host their eighth annual Childrens Free Fishing Contest, Saturday, June 7 for children ages 4 to 15. Prizes for winners in three age groups: 4 to 8; 9 to 12; 13 to 15. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. at Pages Lake (beach area). Fishing time, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., prizes to follow.
Lunch will be provided for all children registered. For more info call William Perrington 853-4207; Al Snell 465-3881; or London Kibler 465-2582.
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