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Local Sports Scene
Chris Snee's extended family came in from New Jersey to share National Football League draft day at the Snee house in Montrose.
The relatives will not have to go as far to follow the next stages in his football career.
Snee learned he will be able to start his professional football career close to home and even closer to his birthplace when the Montrose graduate was selected by the New York Giants with the second pick of the second round of Saturday's draft.
After two false alarms late in the first round, Snee was not sure what to think as he talked to the Giants about the upcoming selection on a telephone upstairs.
The cheers from downstairs told him that the pick had been made official with an announcement at Madison Square Garden and on ESPN.
"Right after the first round ended, the Giants called," said Snee, a junior guard at Boston College who lived in New Jersey until he was five years old.
The draft went about as well as Snee could have expected when he made the decision to turn professional three months ago, although he was teased with the possible prestige of being a first-round draft pick.
"My agent called a few times," Snee said. "Teams would call him and then he'd tell me what they were thinking.
"He called twice to say teams were either going to pick me or one other guy. I almost went as a late first-rounder, but nobody pulled the trigger."
The Giants brought an end the suspense not long after the first round ended.
With the pick, Snee became the first graduate of a Susquehanna County high school to be selected in the NFL draft. Montrose has had football for more than 30 years and Susquehanna has had the sport for 35. Blue Ridge took a shot at football on its own and returned to the sport by sending its students to Susquehanna in a cooperative sponsorship that began last season.
Montrose coach Tom Lucenti joined the Snee family and eight of Chris' college friends to watch the draft unfold.
"Coach Lucenti has been here all day," Snee said a couple hours after learning of the selection. "He said this was his only chance to see this happen and he's not going to leave."
Snee started his special day by meeting an NFL Films crew and taking them on a tour of Montrose. By 11 a.m., an hour before the ESPN draft forecast, he was in front of the television taking in the speculation on what would happen in the draft.
When the Giants were making first-round news with a trade to get first pick Eli Manning from San Diego, Snee had no way to know that he was about to become Manning's teammate.
Snee is returning to Boston. He needs to complete four classes to graduate this spring, but he also has to report to a three-day minicamp with the Giants May 6.
The 6-foot-2, 314-pounder never got his start in football until junior high because he was too big to play junior football unless he moved up to join teams of older players. Although he played some linebacker early on, he was an offensive lineman since his first days on the field.
An all-state defensive lineman at Montrose, Snee was recruited on both sides of the ball. He wound up at Boston College, which has a reputation for churning out NFL offensive linemen, and became a Big East all-star.
Snee was also the first county player ever to receive a full athletic scholarship to play Division I-A football.
Once Snee declared for the draft, his stock steadily rose because of the combination of strong workouts at the NFL Draft Combine and the closer look teams began taking at his college performances on film.
When it came time for NFL teams to project the future, Snee was the second guard taken in the draft. Only Vernon Carey, who went from the University of Miami to the Miami Dolphins, was picked earlier.
"I'm happy," Snee said. "I was the second guard taken. If I stayed (at Boston College) another year, there's no guarantee I would have gone that high.
"I kind of took a risk, but I'm happy with the way it worked out."
WEEK IN REVIEW
Despite being at the upper end of the age bracket, Terry McCarey of Montrose finished in the top 20 percent in the male 40-49 division at last week's Boston Marathon.
McCarey, 49, ran the marathon in 3:23:39 to place 834th out of 3,877 men in the 40-49 age group.
Overall, McCarey finished in the top 15 percent of the field. He was 2,794th. There were 20,344 entries, 17,950 starters and 16,743 finishers in the race, which was run in tough conditions because of the unusual mid-April heat in Boston.
Fran Graytock of Forest City finished in the middle of his age group. Graytock, 55, finished in 4:08:52. He was 1,151st out of 2,037 finishers in the male 50-59 division and 10,308th overall.
In professional hockey, thousands of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans spent a long day on the road Sunday, but their team made it worth the nearly 400-mile round-trip to Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Konstantin Koltsov scored 11:44 into overtime to lift the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the seventh and deciding game of the only series in American Hockey League history to produce five overtime games.
The teams combined to fire off 18 shots in the sudden-death overtime before Koltsov decided it to make a winner of goalie Andy Chiodo for the third straight game.
"I believe the turning point in the series was when we put Andy in net," said Penguins coach Michel Therrien, who went with Sebastien Caron and Marc-Andre Fleury in the first four games as Bridgeport took a 3-1 lead. "He made the key saves."
Fleury and Bridgeport's Dieter Kochan each came up with big stops during the 31:40 of the third period and overtime that the teams played while locked in a 2-2 tie. During that time, the Penguins got off 19 shots and the Sound Tigers took 14.
The game finally ended when Matt Hussey showed the patience to make the best play on a 3-on-2 Penguins break.
After carrying the puck up the right side into the Bridgeport zone, Hussey held up.
"I saw (Eric) Meloche and (Konstantin) Koltsov both break to the net," Hussey said. "Koltsov was kind of left open."
Koltsov quickly buried his second goal of the game.
After losing on Bridgeport's first shot of overtime in each of the first two games, the Penguins won the last three overtime games in the series. They won the finale before a crowd of 4,050 in which the clear majority were from Northeastern Pennsylvania.
"They are phenomenal. They're the best fans in the American Hockey League," Therrien said. "They're a part of this hockey team."
Chiodo made the best save of the series less than two minutes into overtime to extend Game Five, then came back with a shutout in Friday's 5-0 victory.
The goalie made 32 saves Sunday on his 21st birthday to finish the series with an 0.87 goals against average and .961 save percentage.
"The energy and the support to see them at this arena is something that I, personally, will never forget," Chiodo said.
In addition to playing 42:03 of overtime in the series, the Penguins and Sound Tigers were tied for 57:07 of the 140 minutes of third-period play.
In high school tennis, Montrose moved above the .500 mark with a 6-1 victory over West Scranton.
Matt Hearn and Pat Bayer won at the top two singles spots and combined for a win at number-one doubles to improve the Meteors to 4-3.
In high school softball, Blue Ridge remained unscored upon in six league games with an 11-0 rout of Scranton Prep.
In high school track, both Blue Ridge teams swept a pair of meets, combining to triple the points scored by their opponents, 435-145.
The Blue Ridge boys remained unbeaten by topping Elk Lake, 91-58, and Mountain View, 109-33. The girls defeated Elk Lake, 115-28, and Mountain View, 120-26.
Susquehanna graduate Teresa Covert is putting together a big finish to her college track and field career at the University at Albany.
Covert was named ECAC Co-Athlete of the Week on April 20 for her efforts in the April 17 UConn Invitational.
Covert, the first woman from Albany to reach NCAA Division I nationals when she made it in the 100 hurdles last season, qualified for a return to NCAA Regionals with her performance in the long jump at Connecticut.
Covert made it to the regionals in Gainesville, Fla. May 28-29 by breaking her own school record with a long jump of 19-5 1/2. She won the long jump and the 100 hurdles (13.99 seconds) at UConn and took third in the triple jump (38-7) to lead the Great Danes to a third-place finish in the six-team event.
A week earlier, Covert had won both the 100 meters and 100 hurdles in the Williams Relays at Albany.
After her effort at Connecticut, Covert performed well in the prestigious Penn Relays last week.
Covert returned to Philadelphia where she had started her career at Temple.
In the Penn Relays, Covert took second in the east division with a long jump of 19-2 1/2. She had her second-best hurdles effort of the season by running 13.84 in her heat and was part of a 400 relay team that produced the second-best time in school history. The relay team ran 47.19 seconds to qualify for the final where it finished sixth.
The versatile Covert has also run on the 1600 relay team this season.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Montrose fans will be able to follow Snee in home games at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ.
The first chance to watch the school's other major-league athlete on the east coast comes this week.
Rookie outfielder Rich Thompson and the Kansas City Royals are in New York to play the Yankees Friday night, then Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Thompson has come off the bench in six games for Kansas City. He has only one at-bat, but one of his pinch-running performances included a stolen base and a game-winning run.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
JEFF GORDON Wins Under Caution At Talladega, Talladega, AL Jeff Gordon ended Dale Earnhardt Inc.s domination at Talladega Superspeedway by winning Sundays Nextel Cup Aarons 499 under caution.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was battling Gordon for the lead, was scored in second when the caution flew.
Gordon had passed Earnhardt for the lead with less than five laps to go in the 188-lap race. According to NASCAR rules, the field of cars are frozen at the time the yellow flag comes out. This gave the lead to Gordon in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.
When the cars crossed the finish again, there were only four laps remaining. Since the rule states that no race will be red-flagged with less than five laps left, the cars continued to circle the 2.66-mile track under caution.
Whether speedway safety personnel could have cleaned up all the debris from the wreck which occurred on lap 183 in time for a green/white/checkered finish is uncertain.
Gordon claimed his first restrictor plate victory since 2000, and the first of 2004.
"Man, thank god, that somebody could beat these (DEI teams) guys," said Gordon. "The Pepsi boys put it on the beer boys today. What a great race we had today.
"It was hairy just staying out of trouble. Its been a long time since I won a race, but I cant think of a better one to win."
Dale Jr. congratulated Gordon in victory lane after the race ended.
"Im biased of course, but I felt like I was ahead of him before the light came on," said Dale Jr. "I dont know exactly how NASCAR makes their decisions, but it was a great points day, first or second, so Im pretty happy."
Gordons teammate, Jimmie Johnson finished third. Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon rounded out the top-five drivers.
The races big wreck occurred during lap 84 in turn three. It appeared that Tony Stewart nudged the left rear of Kurt Buschs No. 97 Ford, causing a chain reaction of spins, that involved 11 other cars.
"We drafted down the front straightaway real well," said Busch. "I dont know why he committed to turn three as late as he did. He knew he needed to follow me, and now were here instead of out on the track."
Rookie Scott Riggs, who qualified fifth, had the accident missed before someone tapped the rear of the No. 10 Chevrolet.
"Just a crash in front of me," Riggs said. "I was whoa-ing it down, and the spotter said, 'Go low.' I turned low, and somebody hit me in the rear and pushed me right into somebody.
"Just typical Talladega."
Top ten finishing order; 1. Jeff Gordon, 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 3. Jimmie Johnson, 4. Kevin Harvick, 5. Robby Gordon, 6. Mark Martin, 7. Jeff Burton, 8. Casey Mears, 9. Jamie McMurray, 10. Bobby Labonte.
Top-10 points leaders: 1. Earnhardt Jr.-1342, 2. Johnson-1258, 3. J. Gordon-1236, 4. Busch-1222, 5. Kenseth-1192, 6. Stewart-1169, 7. Harvick-1168, 8. Sadler-1153, 9. Newman-1129, 10. B. Labonte-1110.
HENDRICKS Program Adds To Cost Of Racing Hendrick Motorsports is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. They field five teams in two different NASCAR divisions with drivers Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.
The organization has won nine NASCAR championships in the last decade, including five at the NEXTEL Cup Series level.
Their winning record will continue to be high in the future because they sponsor driver training programs that allows them to find and evaluate new drivers, and put them under contract until they are ready to bring them up to the Nextel Cup level.
Three drivers that were recently signed to an alliance" are: Blake Feese, Boston Reid and Kyle Krisiloff. Each of these drivers will compete under the Hendrick banner in 2004.
Feese and Reid will each start a minimum of three ARCA Series events this season in the No. 5 Chevrolets of Bobby Gerhart Racing (BGR). The six-race schedule will serve as a driver-technology development project for Hendrick Motorsports, which will provide engines and chassis to the Gerhart team, headquartered in Lebanon, Pa.
In addition to the alliance with Gerhart, Hendrick Motorsports has inked an agreement with Indianapolis-based SS Racing that will allow Krisiloff to compete in 13 American Speed Association (ASA) events in 2004.
"We're extremely excited to see what Blake, Boston and Kyle are capable of," Rick Hendrick said. "The three of them certainly have the opportunity to make an impact on this organization. They're each tremendously talented in their own right.
"This is an important step toward solidifying the future of Hendrick Motorsports. We looked at a number of different ways to identify and develop young talent, and we've decided that a combination of alliances with other successful organizations at different levels is the most effective direction for us."
It does sound great, especially for Hendrick Motorsports. But I think this is another example of running up the costs of racing.
NASCAR has been looking at ways to reduce costs, but this "alliance" as Hendrick calls it, will certainly cost Hendrick some big bucks.
All Nextel Cup teams are required to race the motor they qualified with in an effort to cut down on expenses. The move was designed to benefit smaller, less-funded teams that dont have the large budgets.
Hendrick and one or two other multi-car teams can afford to bring these young drivers up, but the smaller teams cannot, because of the money factor.
I personally think what Hendrick is doing will bring them continued and greater success in the future. But I also think their plan will tip the scales even more in favor of mega-teams.
Im not against any of the drivers in the Hendrick stable. I admire Rick Hendrick and his drivers. But what I hate to see happen is the detrimental effect this program will have on the smaller teams that cant go after these young guns.
I believe alliances like this one with up and coming drivers are going to make it even harder for the have-nots to compete on the same level, and will create an even wider gap among Nextel Cup teams.
What do you think? Give us your views. If we use them, we will send you an 8 X 10 photo of your favorite driver.
TRUEX Takes Talladega Busch Race Here are the top ten results of the NASCAR Busch Series Aarons 312, run Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway: 1. Martin Truex Jr., 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ron Hornaday, 4. Kyle Busch, 5. Jason Leffler, 6. Kenny Wallace, 7. Robby Gordon, 8. Michael Waltrip, 9. David Green, 10. Joe Nemechek.
Top-10 points leaders: 1. Waltrip-1180, 2. D. Green-1163, 3. Truex Jr.-1153, Busch-1137, 5. R. Gordon-1118, 6. Keller-1051, 7. J. Sauter-988, 8. Hamilton Jr.-961, 9. Hornaday-954, 10. Leffler-937.
Both the NASCAR Nextel and Busch series will be racing on the west coast at California Speedway, in Fontana, CA. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until May 16.
Saturday, May 1, Busch Series 1-800-PITSTOP.COM 300, race 9 of 34, Starting time: 4 p.m. (EST) TV: Fox; Distance: 150 laps/300 miles; Defending champion: Matt Kenseth, Ford.
Sunday, May 2, Nextel Cup Auto Club 500, race 10 of 36, Starting time: 3 p.m. (EST); TV: Fox; Distance: 250 laps/500 miles; Defending champion: Kurt Busch, Ford.
California Speedway track information: Size: 2-mile oval; Banking in turns; 14 degrees, trioval: 11 degrees, backstretch: 3 degrees; Length of frontstretch: 3,100 feet, backstretch: 2,500 feet. Grandstand capacity: 90,000.
Racing Trivia Question: Name the two-time Winston Cup champion who was killed in Riverside, CA in January of 1964.
Last Weeks Question: Richard Petty started 1,177 Winston Cup races, who is the number two driver in races started? Answer. Dave Marcis is second with 848 starts.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to www.race500.com.
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