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Moscow - When the District 2 Class AA championships opened May 18 at North Pocono High School, the only Susquehanna County name in the record book was the finest track and field athlete the county has ever produced.
Susquehanna's Teresa Covert, who ran the 100 meter hurdles in 14.98 seconds in 1998, now has company after a strong performance by county athletes.
Two Montrose boys and one Susquehanna girl set records in field events during the meet.
Susquehanna freshman Amber Gaffey won a head-to-head meeting with a defending champion and record holder in the pole vault.
Montrose discus thrower Larry Lundy knocked a National Football League player out of the record books and teammate Joe LaBarbera gave the county a sweep of the pole vault records.
Gaffey and Lundy got the day off to a great start, setting records in the first set of events to be completed.
Hanover Area's Desiree Finley came in with a record of 9-1 that she set last year. Finley managed to improve to 9-6, but could not keep up with Gaffey.
Gaffey already had the tie-breaker edge by not missing in her vaults of 7-6, 8-6, 9-0 and 9-6. She then cleared 10-0 while Finley missed on all three attempts.
An effort to stretch the record to 10-3 resulted in three straight Gaffey misses, ending the event.
Lundy did his best work early in the discus competition. His first throw was 165-1, surpassing the record of 164-4 set by Dunmore's Tim Ruddy before going on to a football career as a Notre Dame captain and a member of the Miami Dolphins.
Lundy's third throw went 162-2, giving him two throws that were better than runner-up Brandon Burkhardt of Lake-Lehman, who topped out at 159-3.
LaBarbera's vault of 14-0 was 18 inches better than anyone else in this year's competition and three inches better than the record that Adam Hoover of Dallas set in 1995.
Lundy and LaBarbera helped the Montrose boys finish third in the 20-team race with 41 points. Wilkes-Barre Meyers ran away with the team title with 148 points. Lakeland was second with 107 points.
Elk Lake's Robert Squier joined them on the top of the medal stand by winning the 3200-meter run.
All four district champions, plus four other individuals and a relay team qualified for the state meet at Shippensburg University Friday and Saturday. The extra qualifiers made it by meeting a minimum standard set by the state.
Lundy qualified in a second event. He finished second and met the state standard in the shot put with a distance of 51-1 1/2.
Elk Lake's Ryan Place (1600) and Montrose's Kyle Adriance (high jump) also qualified for the state boys' meet.
Elk Lake's Jessica Squier (3200) and the Montrose 3200 relay team made the state girls' meet. Jeanne Roszel, Krista DiRiancho, Khayla Shearer and Tara Chiarella formed the qualifying relay team for Montrose.
Lundy, LaBarbera, Adriance, Nate Aldrich, Nick Staats and the 400 relay team accounted for Montrose's points.
Adriance's 6-4 high jump matched the second best in the meet, but he finished third on a tie-breaker.
Aldrich was fifth in the discus with a throw of 145-8 on his second attempt.
Staats was sixth in the pole vault in 11-6.
Montrose was fourth in the 400 relay.
Elk Lake was seventh in the boys' team scoring with 30 points.
Place led the way with a second- and two third-place finishes. He was second and qualified with a time of 4:24.27 in the 1600. He was third in the 800 in 2:01.00 and the 3200 in 10:11.39 where he teamed with Squier to give the Warriors two of the top three finishers.
Blue Ridge tied for 16th on the two points that Tim Robinson earned by finishing fifth in the high jump.
Mountain View and Susquehanna did not score.
Lakeland scored 97 1/2 points to beat out Wilkes-Barre Meyers (88), Dallas (72) and defending champion Western Wayne (59 1/2) in the girls' team race.
Susquehanna scored 12 points in the pole vault and finished with 16 total to lead all county teams while placing ninth out of 21 teams.
Katie Covert was fourth in the 100 hurdles in 17.11 seconds and sophomore Katie Lawrenson was fifth in the pole vault in 7-6 for the Lady Sabers.
Montrose used its distance runners to tie for 10th with 13 points.
The 3200 relay team was second in 9:42.21. Chiarella was fourth in the 1600 in 5:29.06 and Roszel was sixth in the 3200 in 12:37.83.
Roszel joined Blue Ridge's Carly Devine and Elk Lake's Squier to give the county three of the top six runners in the 3200.
Blue Ridge tied for 13th with 12 points.
Mindy Stanton led the Lady Raiders by taking second in the shot put in 32-2 1/2. Devine used a time of 12:37.72 to finish fifth and the 3200 relay team was also fifth in 10:43.64.
Squier's time of 11:08.03 was good for all eight points, allowing Elk Lake to take 16th place.
Mountain View did not score.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Montrose team of Matt Hearn and Patrick Boyer advanced to the District 2 Class AA boys' tennis doubles quarterfinals before being eliminated.
Hearn-Boyer, the fifth-seeded team, won two matches convincingly. They beat Chris Janosco-Josh Wood of Crestwood, 6-0, 6-1, then defeated James Hart-Mike Gigontino of Dunmore, 6-2, 6-1.
The fourth-seeded Valley View team of Justin Alunni-Brendan Doll eliminated Hearn-Boyer, 6-4, 6-2.
The other three county doubles teams lost in their first matches.
Kyle Hanjaras-Chris Jayne of Elk Lake fell to Stefan Ognoski-Geoff Musti of West Scranton, 6-3, 6-2.
Brady Goldsmith-Andrew Bookin of Montrose opened with third-seeded P.J. Marranca-Joseph Yoo of Wyoming Seminary and lost, 6-0, 6-1.
Elk Lake's Damon Sandle-Mike Jayne lost to Valley View's Justin Betti-Nathan Mattise, 6-0, 6-0.
In baseball, Elk Lake won its fourth straight division title when it got past Bishop Hannan, 10-6, in a make-up game to complete the regular season Saturday.
Elk Lake edged Blue Ridge for the division title.
In softball, Blue Ridge completed its second straight league season unbeaten on the field to win the Lackawanna League Class AA North. Elk Lake and Forest City finished second and third.
Blue Ridge suffered its only league loss last week when it had to forfeit a game to Susquehanna following a scheduling conflict.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won the first and fourth games of the series and are tied, 2-2, with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Calder Cup Eastern Conference finals.
The Penguins scored two goals in the third period of each game in the series. Goals by Eric Meloche and Matt Murley in the third period Sunday led to a 5-4 win to tie the series.
Hartford has won 10 of its last 13 games after tying for the best record in the league during the regular season.
In professional baseball, the Binghamton Mets moved into first place in the Eastern League Northern Division by two games with a 27-17 record. The Mets had won 12 out of 14 before losing, 14-4, to New Hampshire Sunday.
LeeAnna Roberts, a freshman infielder/outfielder from Elk Lake, was part of the Moravian College softball team that reached the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III championship game before losing to the University of St. Thomas, 2-0.
Roberts did not play in the national championship game, which was scoreless through 4 1/2 innings at Salem, Va. Roberts made her last appearance as a pinch runner during a 1-0 semifinal victory over Salisbury University.
In 21 games, including four starts, Roberts was 2-for-22 (.091 batting average). She scored six runs, drove in one and had a sacrifice hit.
THE WEEK AHEAD
District 2 baseball and softball tournament play is underway.
In baseball, ninth-seeded Montrose needed a road win in the first round Monday against eight-seeded Crestwood to earn a likely shot at top-seeded Valley View in Wednesday's quarterfinals. Valley View is the district's only unbeaten baseball team.
The Class AA semifinals are scheduled for Friday.
Blue Ridge and Elk Lake are part of the eight-team field in Class A. Each was scheduled to play a quarterfinal game at home Tuesday with the hopes of advancing to Thursday's district semifinals.
If both win, the Raiders and Warriors will face each other Thursday.
The district final is scheduled for June 1.
In softball, Montrose was the 11th seed in the 15-team Class AA field. The Meteors opened the tournament Monday in Dallas, needing a win to reach Wednesday's quarterfinals.
The semifinals are Friday and the final is June 1.
The Class A tournament featured a county match-up in Tuesday's quarterfinals when Forest City played at top-seeded Blue Ridge.
Elk Lake opened the tournament on the road Tuesday.
The semifinals are scheduled for Thursday and could also feature an Elk Lake-Blue Ridge rematch. Elk Lake upset Blue Ridge in last year's district semifinal.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at RobbyTR@aol.com.
KENSETH Wins Nextel All-Star Challenge
Concord, NC Matt Kenseth, the defending Winston Cup champion showed he does have an aggressive driving style, especially when there is $1-million on the line.
With four laps to go in Saturday nights Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowes Motor Speedway, Kenseth moved right up to the rear of leader Ryan Newmans bumper. It took a couple tries, but, finally as the field exited turn 4, Kenseth was able to make the pass.
"A million bucks, boys," Kenseth screamed over the radio to his crew. "You guys are the best.
It is extra-special for us to be able to win this race, I think, because of all the crap we've heard over and over and over. This is a wide-open race. You run wide-open the whole race and race as hard as you can. We had the fastest pit stops and we had a really fast car and everybody just did a great job. It was fun to drive and it was really fun to win this kind of race because it's usually not our cup of tea - a 20-lap run where you run as hard as you can to try to beat those guys."
The race was split into three segments, starting with 40 laps. Nearly half the field was damaged in this segment when Kurt Busch tried to push his Roush Racing teammate, Greg Biffle pass some cars during lap-10.
Tony Stewart won that segment, and then the top-8 were inverted for the second, 30-lap segment, which was won by Ryan Newman.
Top ten finishing Order; 1. Matt Kenseth, 2. Ryan Newman, 3. Tony Stewart, 4. Michael Waltrip, 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 6. Jeff Gordon, 7. Kasey Kahne, 8. Elliott Sadler, 9. Rusty Wallace, 10. Mark Martin.
Sterling Marlin was the winner of the preliminary Nextel Open.
If A Driver Was Born To Race, Hell Find A Way Reverberations from NASCARs announcement two weeks ago regarding the realignment of the Nextel Cup and Busch Series are still flying. It has even overshadowed all other racing issues.
One of the important issues up until NASCARs realignment notice was the cost of racing. Officials had repeatedly said they wanted to reduce the costs.
In one of my columns I wrote about how Hendrick Motorsports was able to sign up three young drivers, and keep them in the lesser series, until they had gained enough experience to run in Nextel Cup.
Even though this will insure Hendrick, good, experienced drivers, it will also drive up their racing costs, up to a million dollars a year.
My point was that the lesser-funded teams were not able to do this. But not all fans felt that Hendricks developmental program was detrimental to the sport.
K. D. of Buxton, Maine, says:
"As I watched a recent Busch race, I noticed that 14-plus drivers run Nextel Cup. Why shouldnt Hendrick research and develop new talent? The Busch Whackers drive for Richard Childress, Roush and other well-funded and resourceful teams, and have engines and equipment from these teams.
"The cost is high, but is it fair to well-known teams to say, Oh, you have to forget developing new drivers, because NASCAR has created its own problems with cost.
"I like to watch safe racing, and I want teams to keep up speed. Money doesnt necessarily buy a good driver, etc., but it can help keep a team afloat. If a team wasnt meant to be, it just wasnt.
"If a driver was born to race, hell find a way, even if it takes him years to achieve his goal. If not, well.
"Not all baseball teams achieve their goals.
"Rick Hendrick is not to blame for going to a driver development program. Who knows, maybe this will turn into the best thing that ever happened, and all teams will go that route."
TRUEX Wins Last Busch Race At Nazareth Martin Truex Jr. got underneath Bobby Hamilton Jr. on the final lap to win the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200 on Sunday in the final Busch Series race at Nazareth Speedway. The win is the fourth of the year for Truex Jr., who reclaimed the series points lead. Top ten finishing order: 1. Martin Truex Jr., 2. Bobby Hamilton Jr., 3. David Green, 4. Jason Keller, 5. David Stremme, 6. Casey Atwood, 7. Jason Leffler, 8. Michael Waltrip, 9. Kenny Wallace, 10. Kyle Busch.
Top-10 Busch Series points leaders: 1. Truex-1803, 2. Busch-1772, 3. D. Green-1701, 4. Waltrip-1677, 5. Keller-1642, 6. Hamilton Jr.-1600, 7. Hornaday-1521, 8. R. Gordon-1485, 9. Biffle-1460, 10. Leffler-1424.
Top-10 Nextel Cup points leaders: 1. Earnhardt Jr.-1643, 2. Johnson-1603, 3. J. Gordon-1581, 4. Kenseth-1517, 5. Stewart-1449, 6. Newman-1442, 7. B. Labonte-1430, 8. Harvick-1404, 9. Busch-1391, 10. Sadler-1377.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series points leaders: 1. Setzer-815, 2. Edwards-778, 3. Crawford-698, 4. Hamilton-694, 5. Crafton-679, 6. Skinner-677, 7. Kvapil-673, 8. Cook-657, 9. Wood-642, 10. Reutimann-631.
The Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams are at Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. The Craftsman Trucks have an off weekend.
Saturday, May 29, Busch Series CarQuest Auto Parts 300, race 13 of 34, 200 laps/300 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, May 30, Coca-Cola 600, race 12 of 36, 400 laps/600 miles, 5 p.m. TV: Fox; Distance.
Racing Trivia Question: Which NASCAR Winston Cup driver has won the most races at Charlotte?
Last Weeks Question: Who is Bobby Labontes teammate? Answer. Bobby Labontes teammate at Joe Gibbs racing is Tony Stewart.
If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to www.race500.com.
Amber Gaffey (pictured), representing Susquehanna Community High School was winner of the pole vault competition at District 2 Class AA on May 18, 2004. Amber cleared ten feet, which is a district meet record.
Photo by R. J. Wagner
Area residents age 19 and under are invited to participate at Blue Ridge High School, New Milford, on Saturday, June 5 in the AAU County Youth Powerlifting Championship for Susquehanna, Wyoming, Lackawanna and Wayne Counties. (Kids from neighboring counties can participate to qualify for the 2004 Junior Olympic Games.) Registration forms are available on-line at: www.bigzekesfitness.com/counties2004.htm or by calling Zeke Wilson, PA State Chairman, (814) 3345896.
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