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Meteors Win Division; Stranburg Earns State Berth
Mount Cobb - The Montrose Meteors showed they could handle golf in any form - individual or team play, medal or match play - during an impressive week that produced a state qualifier and a division title.
Montrose was the only team to qualify all six players for the District 2 championship.
After 18 holes Sept. 30 at Scranton Municipal Golf Course, Montrose and Scranton Prep were the only two teams that had at least three individuals make the cut to continue pursuing the district's six state tournament berths.
Mike Stranburg wound up in a three-way playoff for the district championship and took second place to qualify for the state tournament.
Two days later, the Meteors handed Valley View its first league loss in more than two years - and avenged their only loss of the last two seasons - with a 6 1/2 - 2 1/2 victory at Montrose Country Club. The two teams came to the end of the Lackawanna League Northern Division season unbeaten and tied for first.
Montrose and Valley View also sent the best players at each other in the District 2 tournament where they were joined by Scranton Prep to lead the Lackawanna League's dominance.
Of the 18 boys who advanced to the final nine holes, 14 were from the Lackawanna League and just four were from the Wyoming Valley Conference. The Lackawanna League then took five of the six state berths.
Valley View's Nick Paone won the three-hole playoff with a birdie on the par-4, 18th at Scranton Muni.
Scranton Muni's uphill, 424-yard, par-4, 16th is the starting point for high school playoffs because its difficulty has a way of separating players quickly.
The three players chasing the last two state berths went out first and quickly settled their playoff at 18.
Stranburg, Paone and Scranton Prep's Steve Hudacek followed with their playoff after shooting 1-over-par, 109s for 27 holes to finish tied for first.
Hudacek dropped out with a double bogey at 16 where Stranburg stayed alive by rolling in an 18-foot uphill putt for par.
"I knew that it would get me to the next hole," said Stranburg, who putted with Paone about four feet away for his par.
Both players wound up in the sand to the left of the 198-yard, par-3, 17th and settled for bogeys.
They each hit the green at 18 where Stranburg realized he needed to make something happen from 40 feet away. He could not make the long birdie putt and Paone finished off the playoff by making an eight-footer for birdie.
"I just tried to make it because I had a feeling he was going to make his," Stranburg said.
Paone was the only player under par in the 18-hole round with a 70. Hudacek was the only player at even par with a 72.
Stranburg emerged from a four-way tie for third by shooting 1-under-par, 35 on the difficult back nine at Scranton Muni to force the three-way tie for first. He birdied 13 and 15, but missed a four-foot putt at 17 where he had his only bogey of the last nine holes.
Hanover Area's Eric Plisko was a shot back at 110 to finish fourth in the district. Brendan Carney of Scranton Prep and Sean Janowicz of North Pocono defeated Josh Johnson of West Scranton in the playoff for the final two state berths.
Teammate Aaron Olah joined Stranburg in the top 10. He finished tied for eighth by shooting 38-39-38-115. He followed a steady round of 13 pars and five bogeys by getting his only birdie of the day at 11 in the final nine holes.
Olah was near the cut before negotiating his final four holes, Scranton Muni's tough 16-18 finishing stretch then the 539-yard first hole, with four straight pars.
Kyle Adriance settled for 18th when he followed up a 78 with a 49 on the last nine holes. He parred his last two holes - 2 and 3 - to just make it into the top 15 and ties needed to reach the final nine holes. Three other players matched Adriance at 78, meaning 18 players were sent back out in search of the six state berths.
All nine county boys in the 90-player field shot 87 or better for their 18-hole rounds.
Montrose's Jeff Evans (39-43) and Elk Lake's Tom Blaisure (39-43) each finished tied for 32nd by shooting 82s.
The Meteors' other players were Sean Welch (41-43-84) and Nick Harasymczek (41-44-85).
Mountain View's Rhett Butler shot 44-43-87.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Forest City's Laura Heck, the only county player to qualify, finished 12th out of 17 players in the District 2 girls' golf championship, also at Scranton Muni.
Heck shot 50-55-105. She had pars on 8 and 11.
Wyoming Seminary's Emily Bold won the district title with a 91. Scranton Prep's Kate Scarpetta shot 94 and Tunkhannock's Kristina Erat shot 95 to earn the district's other berth at the state tournament.
In cross country, Elk Lake had two perfect records ruined during a meet on its home course.
The Elk Lake boys' team lost 25-36 to Honesdale (16-1) and 25-32 to Western Wayne (12-5) to fall to 15-2 on the season.
Robert Squier won the race to remain undefeated in the league and the Warriors defeated Forest City and Carbondale in the multi-team competition.
Jessica Squier suffered her first league loss of the season in the girls' race, but she finished second in the seven-team race. Meaghan Robbins of Western Wayne, the defending District 2 Class AA champion, beat Squier.
In football, both Montrose and Susquehanna had their losing streaks extended.
Mid Valley rallied to hand Montrose (1-5) its fourth straight defeat, 28-16.
Susquehanna lost its 19th straight when it fell to unbeaten Lakeland, 54-13.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators lost forward Wade Brookbank when he was selected by Nashville Friday in the National Hockey League waiver draft.
According to waiver draft rules, Nashville will have to keep Brookbank on its NHL roster all season or offer him back to the Ottawa Senators organization.
The Montrose girls' cross country team won its division at the prestigious McQuaid Invitational in Rochester, NY. September 27.
Montrose finished first among 23 teams in the Unseeded Small School Division with a total of 99 points, 15 better than Green Pond Notre Dame.
Krista DiRiancho finished eighth in 20:01 and Tara Chiarella (ninth) and Jeanne Roszel (11th) followed in the next 15 seconds to lead the Lady Meteors. Courtney Groll and Ashley Johnson also contributed to the winning team score.
More than 4,000 runners compete each year in the McQuaid Invitational.
The Montrose boys placed 15th out of 29 teams in their race. Brett Hagstrom led the way with a 29th-place finish in 17:37. Jon Cronk was 40th.
Joe Frick, a junior strong safety from Montrose, has helped Mansfield University to a 5-0 record for the first time since 1938.
Mansfield rallied to defeat Millersville, 39-27, Saturday.
Frick blocked an extra point after Millersville stretched its lead to 27-20 in the third quarter. That kept Mansfield in position to tie the game, 27-27, on Travis Motley's 41-yard pass to Joe Bennett on the next series.
The 6-1, 215-pound Frick had three tackles and two assists against Millersville. One of the tackles and one of the assists were for losses. He also recovered a fumble and broke up a pass.
Frick was the third-leading returning tackler after starting all 10 games last season in the defensive backfield. He had played six games at linebacker as a freshman.
This season, Frick has 10 tackles and 10 assists. He also has forced two fumbles, produced a sack and three other tackles for losses, and broken up two passes.
Frick had a team-high three interceptions last season. In his career, he has 91 tackles and 62 assists.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will open the American Hockey League schedule at the Wachovia Arena for the third straight season.
The AHL gets started when the Norfolk Admirals play the Penguins Wednesday night. The Penguins play the Admirals at home again Saturday.
After selling out every game for two straight seasons, the Penguins have tickets available for both games.
The Binghamton Senators open Friday night at Philadelphia then play their first game at the Broome County Arena Saturday against Rochester.
The Senators will build around returning goalie Ray Emery.
Emery played in 50 of 80 games last season and had seven shutouts.
"That's a good place to start," Senators coach John Paddock said.
The Steamtown Marathon, which runs from Forest City to Scranton, is scheduled for Sunday.
In high school football, Montrose and Susquehanna are both on the road in Lackawanna Football Conference division games Friday night.
Montrose (0-2 in the division and 1-5 overall) plays at Western Wayne (1-1, 2-4) in a Division 2 game.
Susquehanna (0-2, 0-6) is at Lackawanna Trail (2-0, 5-1) in a Division 3 game.
Our record on last week's football predictions was 8-2, bringing our season record to 50-18 (73.5 percent).
This week's predictions, with the winners in CAPS: WESTERN WAYNE 22, Montrose 16; LACKAWANNA TRAIL 46, Susquehanna 7; MID VALLEY 30, Bishop O'Hara 12; LAKELAND 42, Carbondale 7; HONESDALE 20, West Scranton 15; VALLEY VIEW 28, Delaware Valley 7; DUNMORE 20, Scranton Prep 14; SCRANTON 40, North Pocono 6; RIVERSIDE 12, Old Forge 7; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 27, Wallenpaupack 13.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
NEWMAN Gets Eighth Win Of Season
Kansas City, KS Ryan Newman led a trio of Dodges across the finish line first in Sundays Winston Cup Banquet 400.
Newman and his team stretched the fuel in their No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge for a remarkable 78 laps around the 1.5-mile track.
He last pitted on lap 189 of the 267-lap race. When he returned to the track, he was back in 22nd place.
A caution came out on lap 249 after Johnny Benson hit the outer wall. Newman was second behind Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 19 Dodge. Bill Elliott, who led 115 laps, was third in another Dodge, followed by Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart.
Green flag racing resumed on lap 252, and with 10-laps to go, Newman took the lead away from Mayfield with an inside pass.
Elliott, driving the No. 9 Dodge, managed to also get by Mayfield, but at the checkered flag, it was Newman by 8/10ths of a second.
Newman has now won nine Winston Cup races in 74 starts, which is the best winning percentage of any driver for the past three years.
"We just had to do all we could on that last restart," said Newman. "We didnt really deserve this win because of the poor track position we had earlier in the race, but well take it."
The race was less than sensational from a racing standpoint. It was more entertainment than racing, because there was very little side-by-side or close racing.
Not to take anything away from Newman, but the race was actually won by Newmans team in the pits and on fuel mileage.
"We had a good car, but we just couldnt get there," said Bill Elliott, who led the most laps.
Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray bumped near the end of the race, but Gordon was able to finish fifth.
"We were just about a third-place car today, so to come home in the top-5 was good for us," said Gordon.
An early-race crash gave Winston Cup Series leader Matt Kenseth his second straight poor finish. Even though his team was able to repair his No. 17 DeWalt Ford after he spun to avoid hitting Michael Waltrips No. 15, he wound up 36th.
"It's been a tough week really," said Kenseth. "It started last week breaking an engine and then this week I wrecked the first lap on the track. Ultimately, this weekend was 80 or 90 percent my fault. I saw Michael wrecking and I went a little lower to miss him and instead of just staying on the gas and going by him, I thought I'd slow up a little bit more in case he came down the track. The next thing I knew the thing just spun out on me. I wasn't even going fast, so I'm kind of puzzled with what happened."
Kenseth now has a 259 point lead over Kevin Harvick.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Ryan Newman, 2. Bill Elliott, 3. Jeremy Mayfield, 4. Tony Stewart, 5. Jeff Gordon, 6. Kevin Harvick, 7. Jimmie Johnson, 8. Jamie McMurray, 9. Rusty Wallace, 10. Ricky Rudd.
Top-10 points leaders after 30 of 36 races: 1. Kenseth-4282, 2. Harvick-4023, 3. Earnhardt Jr.-3957, 4. Newman-3918, 5. Johnson-3902, 6. J. Gordon-3862, 7. B. Labonte-3645, 8. Stewart-3616, 9. Busch-3575, 10. T. Labonte-3511.
NASCAR Considering Scoring Changes Jim Hunter, vice president of NASCAR said they are looking at ways to upgrade the scoring system, and changes might come as early as the 2004 season.
During Saturdays Busch series race, which was restarted with just one lap to go, Bobby Hamilton Jr. crashed after being tagged by Greg Biffle. This caused NASCAR officials to throw the yellow with just half a lap left in the race.
But several drivers, including race winner David Green, raced to the yellow and checkered flags anyway. That meant the results on NASCAR's scoring computer which records where the cars are at the finish line were incorrect. The new rules dictate the cars being scored exactly when the yellow flag comes out.
That's the problem. Hunter said NASCAR knew it was going to be difficult to score the cars "because we cannot freeze the cars at the exact moment that the yellow is displayed."
Hunter said the cars were scored halfway between Turns 1 and 2 when the caution lights came on. After officials conferred for almost an hour, the unofficial results were released.
Several positions had changed, most dramatically Jason Keller's. Keller had rolled out of the throttle and was passed by every car on the lead lap. But since he was running fourth when the yellow waved, he was given that position.
Several drivers complained to NASCAR after the race, and Hunter said NASCAR is hoping to improve the current system.
NASCAR is considering two systems. The first will use electronic lines under the racetrack, just like the one currently at the start-finish line, in quadrants around the track.
The second is an effective global positioning satellite system that would freeze the field when the caution is waved. NASCAR has a GPS system, but Hunter said exact positions can't be determined.
DAVID GREEN Wins At Kansas, Retakes Busch Lead Top-10 Busch Series points leaders after 28 of 34 races: 1. D. Green-3833, 2. Riggs-3812, 3. Vickers-3787, 4. Hornaday-3785, 5. Keller-3774, 6. Hamilton Jr.-3567, 7. Wimmer-3351, 8. Kahne-3322, 9. J. Sauter-3310, 10. Compton-3302.
GAUGHAN Continues As Truck Leader Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series points leaders after 20 of 25 races: 1. Gaughan-3274, 2. Kvapil-3254, 3. Musgrave-3216, 4. Setzer-3200, 5. Wood-3031, 6. Hamilton-2998, 7. Crawford-2970, 8. Edwards-2829, 9. Cook-2715, 10. Chaffin-2661.
The Winston Cup and Busch series are at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, while the Craftsman Trucks race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Saturday, October 10, Busch Series Little Trees 300, race 29 of 34, 200 laps/300 miles, 7 p.m. TV: TNT.
Sunday, October 11, Craftsman Truck 250, race 21 of 25, 146 laps/219 miles, 3 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Winston Cup UAW/GM Quality 500, race 31 of 36, 334 laps/500 miles, 7 p.m. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: Mamie Reynolds became the first female winning car owner in 1962, who was the driver?
Last Weeks Question: Who is the crew chief on Jimmie Johnsons No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet? Answer: Chad Knaus.
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.
Mike Stranburg does not have to accept defeat often on the golf course.
When the District 2 boys' championship was finally decided on the third extra hole last week at Scranton Muni, Stranburg walked away satisfied with the effort that produced a runner-up finish and a berth in the state tournament.
"He won it with a birdie on a great hole," Stranburg said after Valley View's Nick Paone won the title on 18. "I can't get upset about losing to a good birdie."
Stranburg went unbeaten in singles match play while helping Montrose win the Lackawanna League Northern Division title. His combined match and tournament play make Stranburg the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
The District 2 title was decided on the last day of September.
Stranburg shook off a slow start to gradually climb through the field. After going 3-over-par on the first six holes, he played the last 12 holes of the 18-hole qualifying round in 1-under to get to a tie for third at 74.
"I bogeyed 3, 5 and 6," Stranburg said. "I thought it was going to be one of those days.
"Then, I started swinging smoother."
Stranburg used that 12-hole stretch to advance to the final nine holes that determine the district title and six state qualifiers. He was one of only two players to play the extra nine in under-par, completing the climb into a 3-way tie for first.
After a clutch 18-foot par putt at 16, Stranburg was down to the final two players before ultimately losing to Paone.
The high school success follows up a strong summer in which Stranburg was a repeat winner in junior tournaments and a contender in competitive adult tournaments, including the Triple Cities Golf Association Amateur.
Mike is the son of Steve and Carol Stranburg of Montrose.
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