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Mount Cobb The 158 other runners in the Class AA boys' field chased Elk Lake's Robert Squier and Ryan Place for almost three miles last Wednesday at the District 2 Cross Country Championships.
In the final 300 yards, Northwest's Caleb Fritz finally caught Place.
No one caught Squier.
The Elk Lake combination gave the rest of the district the feeling that the entire Lackawanna League had all season when Squier and Place controlled the race to earn the Warriors a team spot in Saturday's Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association championship meet in Hershey.
"I knew coming up there that I wanted to be in the top two," said Fritz, a four-time state qualifier in track and cross country. "Squier's a tough runner. I didn't know (Elk Lake) had two that good."
Squier knows all about Place's contributions. They finished 1-2 in every league meet this season.
"It's awesome. He's been a big help to me this season," said Squier, who finished 41st in the state a year ago, two spots ahead of Place. "It has to be tough for him. He's number three in the whole district, but he's never won a race, but I know I've enjoyed running with him."
The entire Elk Lake boys' team, as well as the Montrose girls' team, will get one more week to run together. Each qualified for the state meet by finishing second in the district race behind strong teams. Jessica Squier, Robert's sister, qualified as an individual, along with Blue Ridge's Katrina Rinehimer.
Defending state champion Scranton Prep outscored the Elk Lake boys, 78-111.
Dallas put together one of the strongest performances ever in a District 2 meet, placing all seven girls in the top 16 to outscore Montrose, 26-96.
Elk Lake made it to states by improving its depth. Jaron Fissler was 18th, sophomore Ken Gassaway was 37th and Brandon Griffiths was 52nd. The Warriors beat out third-place Lakeland, which had 123 points.
Montrose got to the state meet with balance. Krista DiRiancho was 10th and the Lady Meteors had four other runners in the top 40, making them the only team other than Dallas to do so. Montrose took the second and final state berth by beating Scranton Prep by 53 points.
Squier and Place quickly established that they were strong candidates to go to the state meet when they took over together to start the race. When they finished, their interest turned to whether their teammates would be joining them.
"Some of the guys on this team are battling so hard that it would be really cool if they got a chance to run down there," Place said.
With Squier and Place setting the pace, they built up enough of an edge for Elk Lake to hold off Lakeland and Western Wayne, the only teams other than Scranton Prep to get their fifth runners to the finish line before the Warriors.
"Except for the time, which was one of the slowest of the season, the way the race went was what I wanted," said Squier, who finished in 16:48.9 on the 3.1-mile run through the windy, snowy conditions at Scranton Muni. "I felt good. I felt like I was moving right along, but it's hard in the wind and the cold."
Place knew Squier was going strong.
"I was shooting for second," Place said, after finishing a strong third in 17:10.0. "I went out real hard, trying to stay with my teammate. I figured Robert would win.
"As long as I could stay with him, I figured I was in good shape."
Fissler's 18:04.8 finish for 18th place was the next best by a county runner. It also earned him a district medal, which go to the top 20 finishers in each race.
Montrose finished ninth out of 25 teams in the boys' race with 245 points. Blue Ridge was 13th with 354. Mountain View was 17th with 411. Susquehanna was 21st with 537. Forest City was 25th with 704.
Other county individuals in the top 50 were: 32, Brett Hagstrom, Montrose, 18:37.5; 40, Jeff Oleniacz, Montrose, 18:57.8; 42, Covey Salinas, Mountain View, 19:08.2; 47, Jonathon Cronk, Montrose, 19:14.0; 48, Mike Kovatch, Blue Ridge, 19:18.8.
Kevin Lee was Susquehanna's top finisher in 55th in 19:33.2.
Forest City was led by 120th-place finisher Sean Collins in 22:00.5.
In the girls' race, Jessica Squier earned a return trip to the state meet where she was 10th as a sophomore last season.
Squier beat out Western Wayne's Meaghan Robbins, a seventh-place state finisher last year, to take second behind Lisa Giacometti of Dallas. Squier's only league loss this season was against Robbins.
Giacometti, Squier and Robbins were the only three girls in the 142-runner field to break 20 minutes. Only six others came in under 21 minutes. Squier's time was 19:43.1.
Dallas and Montrose were the only teams to put more than one runner in the top 15 in a race that featured 17 full teams and individuals from 10 other schools.
The Lady Meteors had three in the top 14.
DiRiancho finished in 21:07.3 and was followed by freshman Tara Chiarella and junior Jeanne Roszel, who came in back-to-back in 13th and 14th in 21:10.4 and 21:11.5.
Junior Courtney Groll was 21st in 21:58.7 and Ashley Johnson was 38th in 23:04.4.
Freshman Emily Merrill and sophomore Erica Smith did not figure into Montrose's team score, but also finished in the top half of the field, ahead of scoring runners from 13 other teams.
The top two teams and the 10 best individuals from other teams qualify for states. Rinehimer, a sophomore, took the final state berth by a six-second margin over Nanticoke's Abigail Gesecki. Rinehimer finished 20th overall in 21:54.8.
Rinehimer led Blue Ridge to a seventh-place finish with 229 points.
Montrose and Blue Ridge were the only county schools to enter full girls' teams in the race.
Meghan Martel was 25th in 22:14.5 and Carly Devine was 31st in 22:41.8 to help keep Blue Ridge in the upper half of the team standings.
Sophomore Kathryn Nebzydoski was first among four Forest City runners, placing 58th in 24:01.7.
Sophomore Jenna Fancher, Mountain View's only entrant, was 73rd in 24:37.0.
Junior Denise Walker was the best of four Susquehanna runners, taking 79th in 24:49.9.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose's Mike Stranburg was District 2's top finisher, in a tie for 20th place, during the PIAA state golf championships at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York.
Stranburg was one of 16 players in the 72-player field to break 40 on each of the four nines during the 36-hole event Oct. 20-21.
Stranburg shot 38-38 the first day and 39-37 the second for a pair of 76s and a 10-over-par, 152 total.
Kevin Reiber from Waynesboro in District 3 won the tournament by shooting 69 in the second round for an even-par, 172 total.
Hanover Area's Eric Plisko was District 2's next best finisher in a tie for 36th at 155.
In boys' soccer, Mountain View followed up winning a Lackawanna League Division 3 title by pulling off a dramatic win in the District 2 Class A quarterfinals.
The Eagles went 9-1 in the division and 14-1 in league games while holding opponents to a Lackawanna League-low four goals on the season.
Nick Cicco led the offense with 26 goals and 15 assists. Casey Holleran added 18 goals and 12 assists.
As the top seed in the district, Mountain View opened with two-time defending champion Wyoming Seminary in a rematch of the last three district title games.
Corey Butler finally produced the winning goal midway through the fourth overtime to lead the Eagles past the Blue Knights, 3-2.
The goal was the second of the game for Butler. He scored after Casey Holleran in the second half to put Mountain View ahead 2-0 before Wyoming Seminary rallied.
Brandon Bennett made 17 saves for the Eagles, who were scheduled to face Bishop O'Reilly in Monday's semifinals.
Bishop O'Reilly opened districts with a 5-0 win at Elk Lake.
Elk Lake had placed third in Division 3 of the Lackawanna League by going 6-3-1 and 9-4-2.
Forest City missed the district playoffs despite a second-place finish in Division 4. The Foresters were 5-2-1 in the division, but their league record was 6-6-2. The .500 record set up a playoff with Bishop O'Hara for the last district spot. The Bruins defeated the Foresters, 4-0.
In girls' soccer, Mountain View had a chance to tie for first place in the Lackawanna League Northern Division until the final day of the regular season when it lost to Lakeland, 2-1.
The Lady Chiefs finished 10-0 in the division. Mountain View went 8-2.
The Lady Eagles were 12-4 in the league.
Amanda Vitzakovitch led the county in scoring with more than a goal per game while helping Forest City to the only other winning record among county teams.
In football, Montrose and Susquehanna remained winless in the division.
Scranton Prep defeated the Meteors, 28-6, in a Lackawanna Football Conference Division 2 game.
Mid Valley shut out Susquehanna, 40-0, in Division 3.
In volleyball, Blue Ridge finished as unbeaten Lackawanna League champion, gaining the top seed for the District 2 Class A tournament in the process.
Susquehanna County success in cross country could continue.
Elk Lake won the Class AA girls' junior high championship October 18. Susquehanna was fifth and Montrose sixth out of 13 teams.
The boys' teams did not do as well but Mountain View's Derek Benson claimed a medal by finishing 15th.
The top 15 in each race received medals.
Elk Lake's Lisa Miszler finished second.
Montrose's Amy Johnson (ninth) and Angelea Shelp (15th) and Elk Lake's Rachel Owen and Ellen Squier (11th and 12th) also medaled.
Alexandra Kotran finished 28th to lead a balanced Susquehanna team that was one of four to place all five runners in the top 50.
In girls' soccer, Forest City and Blue Ridge each went 3-1 to tie for the first in the round-robin portion of the Oct. 18 Autumn Classic at Lackawanna County Stadium. West Scranton won the playoff with Forest City and Blue Ridge to win the title in the five-team event.
Tasha Pashchuk, a junior from Mountain View, is the only Marywood University volleyball player to have appeared in all 30 games for the Pacers this season.
Pashchuk, who also plays basketball, has helped lead Marywood to an 18-12 record.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The state cross country championships are scheduled for Saturday at White Field at Hersheypark Stadium.
Montrose and Susquehanna each finish their football seasons at home.
Montrose (2-7 overall) will need to upset unbeaten Lakeland in order to avoid a winless season in Division 2 of the Lackawanna Football Conference.
Susquehanna (0-9) will need to upset Old Forge (4-5) in a Division 3 game to avoid its second straight winless season.
Our football predictions were 9-1 last week, bringing the season record to 76-22 (77.6 percent).
This week's predictions with winners in CAPS: LAKELAND 42, Montrose 16; OLD FORGE 21, Susquehanna 13; SCRANTON PREP 27, Carbondale 13; RIVERSIDE 20, Mid Valley 16; SCRANTON 33, Delaware Valley 14; DUNMORE 34, Western Wayne 7; VALLEY VIEW 22, Honesdale 19; NORTH POCONO 27, Wallenpaupack 17; WEST SCRANTON 14, Abington Heights 12; and LACKAWANNA TRAIL 49, Bishop O'Hara 6.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
BIFFLE Overcomes To Win Atlanta Busch Race
Hampton, GA Greg Biffle overcame a pit road speeding violation, flat tire, and an empty fuel tank to win Saturdays Aarons 312 Busch Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Greg Biffle, 2. Matt Kenseth, 3. Bobby Hamilton Jr., 4. Michael Waltrip, 5. Hank Parker Jr., 6. Scott Riggs, 7. Kasey Kahne, 8. David Green, 9. Kevin Harvick, 10. Dave Blaney.
Top-10 points leaders after 31 of 34 races: 1. D. Green-4236, 2. Riggs-4223, 3. Keller-4201, 4. Hornaday-4201, 5. Vickers-4187, 6. Hamilton Jr.-4063, 7. Kahne-3733, 8. Wimmer-3725, 9. J. Sauter-3695, 10. Compton-3620.
Can Rudd Top Richard Petty, Atlanta, GA This past weekend in Atlanta, Ricky Rudd, driver of the Wood Bros. No 21 started his 800th Winston Cup race when he took the green flag in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500.
While that might sound like a staggering amount of racing, it actually falls far short of Richard Pettys record of 1,177 starts. That means Rudd is only two thirds of the way to the overall record.
Petty certainly had the advantage, because in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, NASCAR ran more races per year than they do now.
However, in total miles raced, Rudd is much closer because many of the earlier races were shorter than todays races. For instance, Petty has driven 26,807 miles at Atlanta, while Rudd has 23,367.
Rudd, who competed in his first Winston Cup race in 1975, also shares the modern-era record for consecutive seasons with at least one victory, 16 (1983-1998).
"The numbers are adding up," said Rudd. "Obviously, we would rather be talking about wins, which we havent had this year. Im proud of the fact that were at 800, but by the same token, Id rather low-profile it because it seems like so many of the things have been about the number of starts, and Im proud of it.
"My career is winding down, theres no secret about that. Ive got a couple years left in the business, and I would rather be thought of for the win streak and things like that, than the guy that went out there and ran 10,000 races.
"I dont see guys in the future running as many races. You know, I got started in this business running Winston Cup when I was 18. In this sport, until recently, you were considered in your prime in your mid-30s and your peak wasnt until your late 40s.
"So those numbers are changing a little bit now, with all the young guys coming in today. When I say young, most of these guys who are called young are in their low-to-mid 20s.
"I dont think youll see the younger guys pile up 800 starts or even 700 consecutive starts. I dont think you will see that just because theyre getting a little bit later start and I dont see them going and driving as long as I have or the guys before me have."
This is Rudds 29th year in Winston Cup racing. His career started in 1975 with four starts for car owner Bill Champion. Then he moved to a team headed by his father, Al Rudd Sr.
He has 23 wins to his credit with six of them coming while in a Bud Moore Ford in the mid-1980s.
In 1994, he decided to become a car owner and he ran his own team until 1999. Perhaps the highlight of that period was his 1997 Brickyard 400 victory.
At the beginning of 2000, he joined Robert Yates Racing, and remained there until he moved to the Wood Bros. at the end of the 2002 season.
Truck Race Going Down To The Last Flag The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series had the weekend off. With two races remaining, four drivers are within 72 pointsthe closest margin at this stage of the seasonof winning the championship.
Current leader Brendan Gaughan was the only driver among the four leaders to wind up outside the top-10 last season.
Travis Kvapils No. 16 IWX team with Mike Bliss behind the wheel won last years truck championship.
Ted Musgrave was third to Bliss in last years hunt.
Fourth-place Dennis Setzer has felt all season they controlled their own destiny, but in order to win this years championship, he needs some help from Gaughan, Kvapil and Musgrave.
All three of NASCARs major divisions are at Phoenix, Arizona this weekend.
Friday, October 31, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevy Silverado 150, race 23 of 24, 150 laps/150 miles, 5:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, November 1, Busch Series Bashas Supermarkets 200, race 32 of 34, 200 laps/200 miles, 3 p.m. TV: TNT.
Sunday, November 2, Winston Cup Checker Auto Parts 500K, race 34 of 36, 500K/312 laps/312 miles, 3 p.m. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: Which driver has the most NASCAR Busch Series wins?
Last Weeks Question: Where was the first Craftsman Truck Series race held? Answer. It was held in Tucson, Arizona, December, 1995. But at the time, it was called the Winter Heat Series.
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: email@example.com.
Concord, NC There are many questions facing NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. There is talk of eliminating the prestigious Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, and moving the event to another track, maybe California.
Coming off the sport's highly successful "All-Star Game," still in the early stages of huge national television contracts and with greater attention than ever, few foresaw this stage 10 or 20 years ago.
So what do the competitors see in the next 10 or 20 years? Here is what some had to say:
KYLE PETTY, Driver, #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge; CEO, Petty Enterprises:
"The only way to look at the future in this sport is to look at the past. First you have to go backwards. Ten years ago we were running the same chassis style, same A-frames, and so on. But now each part is better - gears, transmission, engine parts. As the future goes, 'data acquisition' in the car will continue to grow its role in the sport. But, NASCAR still limits a lot of that, so, unless they start letting us use the data acquisition stuff on a regular basis then I believe they will limit how technology on the cars will progress. There are a lot of things that could instantly make the sport a lot more technology based, but NASCAR isn't going to let us do it. So, if you want to figure that part, you're going to have to go ask those guys."
DERRIKE COPE, Driver, #37 Friendly's Chevrolet; Owner, Quest Motor Racing:
"You look at the future from a number of standpoints. What happens to the cars and what happens to the race tracks are obvious areas, but what happens in the grandstands and what happens on television are big areas as well.
"From a technical standpoint, we need to continue to push in new areas of the car to produce speed. This is primarily because of the restrictions put upon the teams by the rules. It's no secret that our cars are still quite antiquated in comparison to other forms of motorsports but it is truly amazing at how teams find and manipulate untapped potential in all of this ignorant iron. NASCAR and Goodyear have done a lot to slow the cars down; the teams continue to overcome that.
"Television has brought a lot to our sport from 1979 through the end of the century, and the new television contract with FOX and NBC. It's hard to say where things are headed but, with what the networks have already done, I honestly foresee the likes of pay-per-view races. The return on the networks' investment has to be procured and has already, in my opinion, hurt the sponsor entities with regard to media buys, and the fashion in which a company will support and maximize the benefits of their involvement with a race team - and what it will receive from a network broadcast without it.
"In the years to come, without opposition from another strong form of motorsports, the sport could become more of a global affair. But if that comes about and the sport continues to grow, the changes change. In other words, what you expect and what seems likely doesn't always happen. The more you grow, the more you change. And change creates more change, and a lot of times unexpected change."
JOHN ANDRETTI, Driver, #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge:
"I think the sport is going to change, but I don't think it has the room to move like it has in the past 10 years. It's going to continue to move forward, and everyone's goal in motorsports is for the sport to build on the positive things that we have built on in the past. Every 10 years it has taken tremendous steps forward, but I think we are reaching a point where, over the next 10 years, it is going to be harder to move forward. I think the past 10 years have been the biggest decade that has happened to motorsports. I'm like everyone else. I would love to see that continue. That would for sure make it the number one sport in the world. I think that's how much we've moved in the last 10 years.
"Technology has advanced considerably, and anytime technology advances, it makes it more difficult to control the series and to make sure all the competitors are getting the same opportunities. I think technology from the speed side, not from the safety side, is going to be slow in Winston Cup. It's easier to regulate, monitor, and to not have questions such as someone manipulating electronics to their advantage if you keep a lot of that technology off the car."
STEVE DAVISON, President, Clean Control Corp. (Sponsors #60 OdoBan Taurus of Stanton Barrett and Jack Roush in NASCAR Busch Series):
"I've figured out this much as far as sponsorship is concerned - the costs are going to keep going up. Granted, the costs of everything are going up pretty much but motorsports sponsorships took a tremendous leap over the past few years. You have gone from where $100,000 was a major sponsorship for a Busch car 20 years ago to where teams are looking for up to $5 million. A Winston Cup sponsorship was anywhere from $500,000 to maybe $750,000 about 20 years ago. Now teams are looking for upwards of $15 million.
"That kind of growth in support dollars cuts down the possibilities for the race teams. I know nobody is going to go back to the numbers of 20 years ago. But you have a tremendously large pool of companies who would consider a $1 million sponsorship for a Winston Cup car but, as that number increases, the pool of companies decreases. Go to $4 million, and the number is a lot smaller. At $8 million, even smaller. By the time you get to $15 million, I'd say the numbers of potential corporate sponsors are getting pretty minuscule.
"The market is going to determine what happens. As long as teams can find big-dollar sponsors, they are going to maintain those numbers. But from what I have been seeing, some of the sponsorship numbers are starting to come back down some. If the economy continues at this pace and if industrial growth nationwide - internationally, for that matter - remains somewhat stagnant, then I think those sponsorship dollars are going to have to drop."
From the fan's standpoint, I believe NASCAR should be concerned about higher ticket prices, and the overall costs of a racing weekend. Fans are also going to be terribly upset if a long traditional race like the Southern 500 is moved from their area.
Overall, there will be changes, and what will happen on down the road is hard to forecast, but major changes will occur, just like Toyota entering the Winston Cup Series in 2007.
In all probability the changes will come as our society, cultural and marketing styles change. NASCAR has moved into the 21st Century, and they will continue to make changes as the times dictate to further the sport along.
At the District Cross Country Championships held on October 22 at the Scranton Municipal Golf Course the Montrose Cross Country Girls team won second place in the Class AA division and a chance to compete in Hershey at the state championships on November 1. Montrose girls are also the Class AA champions of the Lackawanna League. The Lady Meteors had an excellent season with a 21-2 record. The girls (pictured l-r) are: front row Krista DeRiancho and Ashley Johnson (Co-Captains); back row Erica Smith, Emily Merrill, Jeanne Roszel, Courtney Groll and Tara Chiarella.