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Issue Home February 24, 2004 Site Home

Local Sports Scene
NASCAR Is Now Politically Correct

Snyder Storms To Championship; Villella, Panasevich Also Win

Montrose’s Jeff Snyder, Blue Ridge’s Louis Villella and Mountain View’s Matt Panasevich each won District 2 Class AA wrestling titles Saturday night at Scranton Prep High School.

Villella led a Blue Ridge effort that put the Raiders in the early lead before they settled for a third-place finish in the 14-team field.

Blue Ridge had four of the 14 county wrestlers who qualified for the Northeast Regional tournament by finishing in the top three in their weight classes.

Snyder stormed to the 112-pound title by pinning Chris Carey of Wilkes-Barre Meyers in just 1:21 of the final. It was the shortest bout of the championship round.

Snyder did not need long to win the tournament. He used just 5:13 to post two pins and a technical fall in his three bouts.

Villella defeated Western Wayne’s Jim Histed, 10-4, in the 119-pound final.

Panasevich reached the 171-pound final with two technical falls then decisioned Dave Paveletz of Hanover Area, 7-3.

Blue Ridge had three other finalists while finishing with 150 points. Lake-Lehman repeated as champion with 210.5 points, followed by Western Wayne with 175.

Harry Marvin (140), Nick Pease (152) and Justin Herbert (160) placed second for Blue Ridge.

Pease dropped a 7-5 overtime decision to Dave Arnold of Western Wayne.

Three Blue Ridge wrestlers finished fourth and will be alternates in the event that one of the top three finishers can not compete at regionals. Harold McKinney (112), Matt Holbrook (189) and Roy Marvin (275) each lost in the consolation finals.

Joe Pipitone was fifth at 171.

Montrose was fifth with 113.5 points, 12.5 behind fourth-place Wilkes-Barre Meyers.

Jeff Olienacz (103) and Adam Poodiack (130) finished second and were the only Meteors to join Snyder in qualifying for regionals.

Shane Kalpokas was fourth, Dustin Palmer fifth and Dennis Moore sixth for Montrose.

Olienacz lost the wildest bout of the finals, 20-19, to Jeff Morcom of Western Wayne.

Elk Lake finished eighth, Susquehanna 10th and Mountain View 13th.

John Brooks (103), Dylan Griffith (130) and Brandon Griffith (140) all finished third for Elk Lake. Brooks won a 9-0 decision over Nanticoke’s Nate Jimmerson while the Griffiths each won two-point decisions.

Rich Harvey was fourth, Mike Noldy fifth and Eric Wright sixth for the Warriors.

Susquehanna’s Nathan Huyck was second at 125. He was the only one of five Sabers’ semifinalists to reach the finals.

Ryan Holeran is also going to regionals after finishing third at 135. Anthony Sellitto and Ryan Newberry were fourth.

Greg Nixon was Mountain View’s only other placewinner. He reached the finals at 145 before losing.

In the Class AAA tournament at Hazleton Area, Abington Heights became the first Lackawanna League school other than West Scranton to capture a District 2 team championship.

Dave Morgan of West Scranton won his fourth individual title and was named Outstanding Wrestler.


Forest City was the only county boys’ basketball team to make it out of the opening week of district basketball play.

Susquehanna and Mountain View won openers, but lost in the quarterfinals.

Montrose and Blue Ridge each won to advance in girls’ basketball while Forest City remained alive without playing because of a bye.

In boys’ basketball, Forest City squeezed past Carbondale Sacred Heart, 61-59, in the Class A quarterfinals.

Susquehanna hosted the only first-round Class A game and held off Bishop Hafey, 59-57, to reach the quarterfinals. The Sabers were then eliminated by top-seeded Bishop O’Reilly, 73-37.

Kevin Lee hit three 3-pointers while scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against Bishop Hafey. The Sabers outscored the Vikings in each of the first three quarters to open a 39-28 lead.

Lee had 21 points in the loss to Bishop O’Reilly as the Sabers finished the season with a 5-19 record.

Bishop Hannan and Old Forge joined Forest City and Bishop O’Reilly in the semifinals.

Mountain View opened the Class AA tournament with a 48-35 victory over Dunmore before losing to Carbondale, 65-55.

Elk Lake and Blue Ridge each lost in the first round in Class AA. Elk Lake fell to Wilkes-Barre GAR, 73-38, and Blue Ridge lost to Bishop Hoban, 80-50.

Devin Ralston scored 13 points for Blue Ridge in its loss.

Lackawanna Trail, Northwest and Wilkes-Barre GAR joined Carbondale in the semifinals.

Montrose lost in the first round in Class AAA against Scranton Prep, 73-45.

Prep went on to reach the semifinals along with Hanover Area, Crestwood and Valley View.

In girls’ basketball, Montrose broke away from a halftime tie in its 59-43 victory over Wyoming Seminary in a Class AA opener.

Chelsey Parvin scored 13 of her 16 points in the second half. She also finished with 11 rebounds.

Erika Brown scored all nine of her points in the second half.

Carrie Robinson led Montrose with 17 points.

Kate LaBarbera added nine points, five assists and three steals.

Blue Ridge opened with a 61-49 victory over Mountain View in another Class AA game.

Riverside, Western Wayne, Wilkes-Barre Meyers, Bishop Hannan, Carbondale and Lakeland joined Montrose and Blue Ridge in the quarterfinals.

In eighth grade boys’ basketball, Susquehanna won its third championship in eight days.

The Sabers started by winning the Lackawanna League West Division in a 62-58 overtime victory over Lackawanna Trail. Both teams had finished the regular season with 12-4 league records.

Brent Keyes led the way with 33 points in the win.

Susquehanna then won the Tom Koes Memorial Tournament at Mountain View. Keyes was named tournament Most Valuable Player for leading the Sabers past Blue Ridge and Mountain View.

The 6-foot-2 Keyes was MVP again at the Damascus Invitational where Susquehanna won the title with a 58-31 victory.

Craig Soden, Dan Downton, C.J. Felter and Kirk Fallon joined Keyes in the starting lineup.

Dave Lee coached the team and was assisted by Bob Keyes.

In professional hockey, Ray Emery made 32 saves to help the Binghamton Senators salvage a 2-2 tie with the host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Steve Bancroft’s power-play goal for Binghamton at 4:15 of the second period was the last goal of the game.


Mountain View graduate Nicole Zapolski became the first woman in Keystone College history to score 1,000 points in basketball.

Zapolski had 11 points and 14 rebounds in a 75-69 loss to William Paterson as Keystone closed out a 17-3 regular season.

Julie Lasher, also from Mountain View, had 14 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots in the game.

Zapolski reached her milestone by hitting a free throw with 6:26 remaining. She finished the game with 1,001 career points.


The Class AA Northeast Regional Wrestling Tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Williamsport.

In swimming, The District 2 Class AA Championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center.

Collin Lunger of Elk Lake is the top seed in the 500-meter freestyle.

In boys’ basketball, Forest City was scheduled to meet Old Forge in Tuesday’s semifinals with the hopes of reaching Friday’s final. The top two Class A teams advance to the state tournament.

In girls’ basketball, Forest City faces Pittston Seton Catholic Wednesday in a Class A semifinal. A win would put the five-time defending champion Lady Foresters in Saturday’s district final and the state tournament.

Montrose was scheduled to face Wilkes-Barre Meyers and Blue Ridge was set to meet Bishop Hannan in a pair of Class AA quarterfinals Monday. If the teams won, they would advance to Wednesday’s semifinals, Saturday’s finals or consolation finals and the state tournament.

The four Class AA semifinalists all reach the state tournament.

In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are at the Binghamton Senators Wednesday.

The teams continue their playoff race in the American Hockey League East Division where the top five teams qualify.

Fourth-place Norfolk has 61 points in the standings but just 19 games left. Binghamton has 60 with 23 games left and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has 56 with 25 left.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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KENSETH Wins Photo Finish At "The Rock,"

Rockingham, NC –Matt Kenseth, who won only one race last season on his way to the NASCAR Winston Cup championship, won the Subway 400 for the second time in three years. His margin of victory was just 1/100th of a second over rookie Kasey Kahne, which made it one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.

Matt Kenseth

"It was a blast, but it was a little stressful," said Kenseth. "Everybody on the team did an awesome job. I think we needed every bit of power we had there at the end. I knew it was going to be close and I didn't want to spin the tires."

Kenseth, who led the most laps was in the pits during lap 351, when Robby Gordon crashed after coming out of turn two, bringing out a caution. Kenseth had already made the stop under green.

When green flag racing resumed with 30 laps remaining, NASCAR allowed Kenseth to remain in the front, saying, "When the yellow came out, the 17 car had not been lapped by the leaders, and all cars were frozen in position."

Jamie McMurray would have been the new leader, but NASCAR said "No." McMurray's crew chief, Donnie Wingo protested the decision, but his protest was disallowed.

Kenseth continued to lead, but with less than eight laps to go, McMurray and Kahne had closed in on Kenseth's No. 17 DeWalt Ford.

With two laps to go, McMurray slipped and had to back off the throttle. This allowed Kahne to move his No. 9 Dodge right on the bumper of Kenseth.

As the two cars exited turn four, Kahne had a run on the inside of Kenseth, but at the finish line, he was less than a foot short of getting his first win.

"We came close," said Kahne. "I knew I was a little better than him in the open, but when I got right up behind him it was hard to get a good run."

McMurray came into the race after winning Saturday's Busch race.

"It was just out of control the last few laps," said McMurray. "Typically you try to conserve your tires at the first part of a run and save them for the end. We were just sliding out of control, but we had a good time."

Sterling Marlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five.

Polesitter Ryan Newman finished sixth, while Rusty Wallace, Kurt Busch, Ward Burton, and Jeff Gordon were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Last year's winner Dale Jarrett lost an engine in his No. 88 UPS Ford and was finished after 210 laps.

Top ten finishing order: 1. Matt Kenseth, 2. Kasey Kahne, 3. Jamie McMurray, 4. Sterling Marlin, 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 6. Ryan Newman, 7. Rusty Wallace, 8. Kurt Busch, 9. Ward Burton, 10. Jeff Gordon.

Raising The Ante In Busch & Trucks – Several Nextel Cup drivers have left NASCAR's major series to run in either the Busch or Craftsman Trucks. Most drivers are forced out by lack of sponsorship or in other cases, it was a decision by the team owner to replace them with someone else.

Returning to one of NASCAR's lesser series is like going home or returning to their roots, because most of them raced in one of those series on their way up.

Cup racing has the biggest rewards, the most television exposure, the biggest financial rewards, but also, it has the most pressure.

The money or prestige in the two lesser series is not what it is in Cup racing, but neither are the amount of headaches and time spent away from home. Since the Busch series races on Saturday, that means the drivers can be home with their family on Sunday.

Randy LaJoie, the two-time Busch champ tried Cup racing for two seasons, then went back to Busch racing. "I didn't have a bit of fun during that time," said LaJoie in referring to his Cup experience.

A crew member on one Cup team told me that he didn't worry about his wife, because within about six months she would get fed up with his long schedule and leave him, and he would just find another one.

But no matter how you view these former Cup drivers, they bring additional experience and name recognition with them.

Johnny Benson, the 1994 Busch champion lost his Cup ride after the 2003 season and is back in Busch.

David Green, the 1995 Busch leader who has had an on-again, off-again romance with the Cup series will apparently remain with his Busch ride.

Greg Biffle, who now drives the No. 16 Ford for Roush Racing in Nextel Cup, will be doing "double duty," as he tries to run both the Cup and Busch series.

Johnny Sauter and Kasey Kahne are two other drivers that will be running both series.

While it might seem like these veterans would have an edge, the younger drivers, like Kyle Busch, Bobby Hamilton, Kasey Kahne, and Jason Leffler are cockier and will put up a good fight.

The battle line will be between youthful arrogance and determination and experienced know-how.

Meanwhile, the return of former champions Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague will certainly inject new life into the Craftsman Trucks.

This series is the lesser of NASCAR's three major touring circuits, but often it produces the most exciting racing. Sponsorship concerns hamper teams in this series, but there are enough quality teams to put on a good show.

With Toyota's entry into the series, there will now be 30 teams running the 25-race schedule.

Steve Park is another driver that will be trying to make his mark in this series. After being let go by two different Cup teams in 2003, he is giving the trucks a try.

In addition to veterans, Bobby Hamilton, Ted Musgrave, and Dennis Setzer, youngsters Jon Wood and Carl Edwards should be in the mix for the title.

"You make less money over here," said Skinner. "But there's got to be a benefit for what I call having a life. I just felt like this was the right thing to do, because now I can be with my family.

"I know the series has come a long way since I started (1995), and I'm not kidding myself about what we can do. I would like to end the season believing we can win the championship in 2005.

"There are a lot of good teams and drivers, and it's going to be much tougher than when I started out."

Other Racing

McMURRAY Gets Fourth "Rock" Win – McMurray won his fourth consecutive Busch series at Rockingham on Saturday, passing Kevin Harvick for the lead on lap 177 of the 197-lap Goodys Headache Powder 200. Top ten finishing order: 1. Jamie McMurray, 2. Martin Truex Jr. 3. Kevin Harvick, 4. Michael Waltrip, 5. David Green, 6. Johnny Sauter, 7. Kyle Busch, 8. Bobby Hamilton Jr., 9. Johnny Benson, 10. Ron Hornaday.

Top-10 points leaders after 2 of 34 races: Kevin Harvick-335, 2. J. Sauter-330, 3. D. Green-294, 4. R. Gordon-291, 5. Hornaday-285, 6. Waltrip-276, 7. Hamilton Jr.-266, 8. Keller-265, 9. Truex-264, 10. K. Wallace-242.

DALE Gets Double Win – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led 47 of 120 laps to win the rain postponed Hershey Kisses 300 Busch Series race on Monday, February 16 at Daytona Int’l. Speedway. The race was postponed Saturday by rain after just 31 of 120 laps.

After his win in the 200-lap Daytona 500 on Sunday’s Daytona, Earnhardt appeared tired on Monday morning.

Asked how much rest he got Sunday night after winning NASCAR's biggest race, Earnhardt said, "A little, but it's like the guy who goes into a gas station and buys a dollar's worth of gas, just enough to get where he needs to go."

Top ten finishing order: 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2. Johnny Sauter, 3. Robby Gordon, 4. Kevin Harvick, 5. Matt Kenseth, 6. David Stremme, 7. Ron Hornaday, 8. Jason Leffler, 9. Jason Keller, 10. David Green.


There is no live televised racing this weekend. All three of NASCAR's major series, the Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks have an off week. The ARCA RE/Max and ASA series are also idle.

The next NASCAR event will be at Las Vegas, the weekend of March 6-7.

Racing Trivia Question: With 200 wins, Richard Petty is the winningest Winston Cup driver in NASCAR history. Who is the second-most winning driver?

Last Week's Question: Which Nextel Cup drivers must display a yellow stripe on the rear bumper of their car? Answer. All rookie drivers.

If you would like to read additional racing stories by the Gerald Hodges/ the Racing Reporter, go to:, or mail him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.

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NASCAR Is Now Politically Correct

I don’t agree with NASCAR’s new realignment.

By realignment, I don’t mean the front-end suspension on race cars.

The sanctioning body is beginning to place more emphasis on the entertainment aspect of the sport than on racing.

NASCAR is realigning the sport of racing to embrace movie stars and other image makers that will contribute glitz on Sunday’s television schedule.

For years, NASCAR has been moving to get away from the image that racing is associated with southern people, or that it is a southern sport. It’s like the sport of racing in its past and present form is no longer sufficient for the fans.

Pictured (l-r) are: Miss America Ericka Dunlap, Whoopie Goldberg, Evander Holyfield.

It seems the sport must be painted and powdered up, and made to smell squeaky clean. They are trying to do away with showing the sweat and grease that goes into making a successful team, and bring in Hollywood style entertainment.

Contrary to what everyone might think, NASCAR has become "politically correct."

Talk about any of the minority people they bring in to parade on worldwide television and you are politically incorrect, which also means you are racist, sexist, and probably still believe in the death penalty.

Political correctness also means changing a few ideas about history. You could say that Christopher Columbus is no longer a brave explorer, for instance. He’s a dirty white man who introduced all kinds of diseases to the New World he discovered, and he needs to be taken out of our history books.

But what NASCAR, and to be more specifically, the France family, is doing is no different than in the beginning.

I have had the privilege to talk with several people that attended that first meeting in Dec. 1947. The organization that was to be formed was to be for the drivers. It wound up being for the France’s.

The reason it worked that way is Bill France Sr. had the smartest lawyers.

A former Winston Cup champion told me about three weeks ago that, "NASCAR doesn’t care about the past, they are only looking towards the future, and what it will bring them."

Now I understand that time passes on, and those who can’t keep up are left behind.

To bring in people that have no roots in the sport, or desire to further it except from a publicity angle is hard to fathom.

Is it possible my elevator has stopped somewhere between floors?

"Whoopie" Goldberg was the Grand Marshall and gave the green flag to start the 46th Daytona 500. To me, Ms. Goldberg is an actor and entertainer. I have watched many of her movies and enjoyed them.

What has she done to deserve the honor?

Do I think she belonged on the flag stand?


I have never seen the Black Entertainment Network honoring one of the NASCAR drivers.

And to my knowledge, the NBA doesn’t send out a scouting party to recruit NASCAR drivers.

Another thing that bothers me is when it comes time for the national anthem there is always some entertainer or other celebrity from outside the area that sings it.

Why does NASCAR bring in celebrity singers? Isn’t there anyone in Florida or Daytona who could sing our nation’s number one song?

I feel like bringing in outsiders to sing and perform is both inappropriate and an affront when there are plenty of hometown people just as capable of performing.

Why couldn’t NASCAR have an audition for local singing talent, and allow the winner to sing our national anthem?

When it comes to selecting a grand marshal, what would be wrong in using one of our past Grand National or Winston Cup champions? Drivers like Richard Petty, David Pearson, or Rex White would be excellent choices.

And they would represent our sport well. But in addition, they are the ones that have helped bring the sport to the level it is today.

The drivers were and still are the gladiators that made the name NASCAR what it is today. It wasn’t the France family or their slick New York marketing agency. The France family is very wealthy, but they didn’t just print all their money. It was the drivers that made it for them.

Take away the drivers and see what’s left.

NASCAR is well on the way to denying their legacy and creating something artificial, and that is why I cannot accept their new realignment.

For the record, I grew up on an Alabama dirt farm, work nearly seven days a week, drive a 2002 Chevy Blazer, have a wonderful wife, two cats and one dog, and fear the Lord. It’s awfully hard for me to understand why NASCAR and the France family want to change such a wonderful cultural sport that has worked so well for so many generations for so many decades.

Pray for me!

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