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Common sense prevailed in a pair of recent rulings involving high school wrestling.
The National Federation of State High School Associations continued a recent trend when it tightened restrictions on weight loss.
District 2 decided not to punish Mountain View's Matt Panasevich for competing in an event that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association frowns upon.
The Wrestling Rules Committee of the NFHS approved changes during its April 10-11 meeting and the NFHS Board of Directors added its approval.
Weight rules seem restrictive at times, but sadly are necessary to help prevent the potential of athletes and coaches to push too far. Less maneuverability of lineup is small price to pay to keep athletes safer in a sport that is extremely demanding physically.
Panasevich faced the possibility of losing his final year of eligibility for competing in what the PIAA considers a high school all-star event. Only seniors who have completed their high school careers in a given sport are allowed in such competitions under PIAA rules.
District 2 accepted the explanation that Panasevich had no intent to violate the rules when he competed in national championship for high school underclassmen. The decision could have gone the other way, especially if hard-line PIAA officers made the decision to provide an example that athletes should not dare take advantage of their all-star status. The shame is that Panasevich is free to pursue some events sponsored by USA Wrestling and other organizations, but an event run by a high school coaches association becomes off limits.
The gray areas are tough to decipher. Athletes in other sports compete in similar events. Basketball players often travel the country in AAU events that some might think get out of control, but when those events are not treated as high school all-star competitions, the PIAA and other state organizations do not have restrictions.
Whether specifically billed as a high school all-star event, the draw of such competitions is clearly the same - the chance to compare top high school players (and college recruits).
The NFHS changes, which will go into effect for the 2006-07 school year, use stronger restrictions to discourage rapid weight loss. The rewriting of Rule 1-3 includes a hydration level not to exceed 1.025, a body fat assessment no lower than 7 percent for males and 12 percent for females and a monitored, weekly weight loss plan not to exceed 1.5 percent a week.
"The weight management rule change effective 2006-07 is certainly monumental," Dave Carlsrud, a North Dakota state official and the chairperson of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee, said in an NFHS press release. "While weight management has been researched for many years and may have been passed earlier, a number of our states needed time to prepare for effective implementation."
Another revision limits the amount of weight wrestlers can add during consecutive days of competition. In the past, one extra pound was allowed for each consecutive day, but it will now only be allowed for up to two pounds.
According to NFHS survey records, wrestling is the sixth-most popular sport among high school boys with 238,700 participants on 9,526 teams.
Panasevich frequently travels around the country competing with the best of those athletes.
During its April 14 meeting, District 2, the local section of the PIAA, addressed Panasevich's participation in the National High School Coaches Association High School Junior Nationals at Cleveland from March 29 to April 1.
Penalty for participation in such an all-star event "may result in the loss of a year of eligibility" according to minutes of the meeting.
Mountain View acknowledged Panasevich's participation and principal Colin Furneaux supplied the committee with details. Furneaux reported his investigation of the matter to the committee, stating that Mountain View's administration was not aware participation could endanger Panasevich's eligibility and asked that he not be punished for an oversight by the administration.
The committee voted to accept Furneaux's report without any further action regarding Panasevich's eligibility.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Binghamton Senators took advantage of quick strikes each night to take the first two games of their best-of-seven Calder Cup playoff series from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The Senators were the only team in the American Hockey League's 69-year history to go scoreless through a playoff series when they were swept in a miniseries by two Norfolk shutouts last season.
There was no such problem this time as Binghamton continued the form it showed while leading the AHL in goals.
Josh Langfeld scored on a 5-on-3 power play just 2:03 into Friday's 5-2 victory.
Charlie Stephens scored the first of his two goals 1:44 into Saturday's 4-2 win before a sellout crowd of 4,710.
Binghamton, which won the East Division title and is one of the favorites to capture the Calder Cup, continued its season-long dominance of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
After losing the first meeting of the season between the teams, the Senators have won nine straight. They have won the last seven by a total of 32-13.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton outshot Binghamton in both games, but the quick starts and strong goaltending by Ray Emery kept that from making a difference.
The teams were tied for just 13:46 of the 120 minutes in the first two games - the time it took for Binghamton to break a scoreless tie each night and another 9:59 Saturday after Kris Beech scored on a power play.
Binghamton has skated with the comfort of leads of two or more goals for 51:28.
Brian McGrattan, who set a league record for penalty minutes this season, assisted on both goals by Stephens Saturday. He had just one assist all season.
Jason Spezza, who has scored in 22 straight games, has a goal and two assists. Antoine Vermette and Josh Langfeld have matched Spezza's scoring total.
Defenseman Jesse Fibiger is plus-4 for the Senators.
Emery, who is 12-0-2 in his last 14 games, stopped 62 of 66 shots.
Erik Christensen led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a goal and an assist.
Elk Lake graduate Seth Button led Gloucester County Community College in runs batted in as a freshman last season.
Now, Button is threatening to lead all National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Division III players.
Button has 51 RBIs in 38 games to rank third in the nation. Gloucester, which reached the national tournament last season, is ranked second in the latest NJCAA Division III poll with a 26-7 record.
Button, who led Elk Lake to a state Class A final as a senior, is sixth in the county with eight home runs for the Sewell, N.J. school.
Last season, Button had eight home runs, 67 RBIs and a .346 batting average for a 45-13 team.
The Binghamton Senators will try to advance to the Calder Cup quarterfinals when they continue their best-of-seven series with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Binghamton led 2-0 going into Monday's game. The Senators play in Wilkes-Barre Wednesday. If necessary, the series moves to the Broome County Arena Friday, back to Wilkes-Barre Sunday and to the Broome County Arena again Monday.
In high school baseball, Susquehanna is at Blue Ridge Monday in a meeting between the county's two most successful teams this season. The Sabers are the only team with a winning division record. Blue Ridge is at .500 in league play.
In high school track, the dates have been set for the District 2 championships.
The junior high championships will be May 14 at Hanover Area. The Class AA varsity championships are set for May 19 at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
BUSCH Gets Nextel Win At Phoenix, Avondale, AZ – Kurt Busch in the No. 97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford set a fast pace to win the Inaugural SUBWAY Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, April 23. The Las Vegas native led 219 of the 312 laps, in a race that finished under the lights.
Kurt Busch in Victory Lane at Phoenix
“Today was our day,” Busch said. “It was very surprising. I didn't know the car was going to be that good in the beginning. At the end, Michael (Waltrip) was there, shows how good his team was. It’s great, the taste of victory. We are running well at all the races this year.”
Greg Biffle, the hottest driver in the series, and the winner of Friday night’s Busch Series race had problems in the pits and finished 41st. He collided with the car driven by Mike Bliss and wound up with a busted radiator on his No. 16.
Meanwhile, the Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart feud continued. Johnson got into the back of Stewart’s No. 20 Home Depot going into turn 3 on lap 206. The two cars made contact and in the resultant scramble, that brought out the race's seventh of nine cautions at lap 207, several other cars were caught up in it.
"He started doing the same thing again (even though) I haven't been around him all race," Johnson said. "Shoots me the bird running down the backstretch and runs me all over the place and then goes in the turn and stands on the brakes to mess with me.
"I ran out of room and got into the back of him. I don't know why he gets so irate whenever I'm around him (but) I end up being the whipping post every time I get to him, it seems like."
However, Stewart had a different version of what happened.
"I don't know what he was doing," Stewart said of Johnson. "He was running guys up and down the racetrack. He about ran Junior (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) into the wall and I about ran into Junior because of that.
"And then he finally put me backwards."
Polesitter, Jeff Gordon finished the race in 12th spot.
Busch, the 2004 Nextel Cup champion finished 2.315 seconds ahead of second place Michael Waltrip. Jeff Burton took third, and past two-time PIR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth. Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter and Joe Nemechek wrap up the top-10 finishers.
Busch’s victory moves him into second in the points, 137 behind points leader Jimmie Johnson. Greg Biffle (-208) sits third with Jeff Gordon (-233) and Elliott Sadler (-251) in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Kurt Busch, 2. Michael Waltrip, 3. Jeff Burton, 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 5. Brian Vickers, 6. Bobby Labonte, 7. Carl Edwards, 8. Kyle Busch, 9. Johnny Sauter, 10. Joe Nemechek.
Top-10 points leaders after 8 of 36: 1. Johnson-1260, 2. Busch-1087, 3. Biffle-1052, 4. J. Gordon-1027, 5. Sadler-1009, 6. Martin-997, 7. Newman-994, 8. Edwards-979, 9. Marlin-968, 10. R. Wallace-960.
Don’t Air Our Dirty Linen Says NASCAR’S Mike Helton – One of NASCAR’s goals is to always present a positive public image about the sponsoring organization to the public. Since it’s origins in 1947, NASCAR has attempted to retaliate against any teams or drivers that criticized them.
They have ways of getting back at you.
In 2003, Nextel Cup driver, Tony Stewart ran afoul of the organization after criticizing some of their policies and procedure. Stewart became so disgusted and outspoken that many insiders wondered if he would be back the next season.
“It’s NASCAR’s way, or the highway,” said Stewart. “And I might be on my way out.”
Stewart got the message, because since then, you haven’t heard many negative comments from him about NASCAR.
This past week, an incident that involved an illegal carburetor on the Busch car driven by Johnny Sauter, was aired on the new television show, NASCAR Nation.
The nightly news-magazine show on Speed Channel broadcast a segment last Thursday night recounting news reports of the firing of a Busch Series official in relation to the disqualification of Sauter's car at Texas for a illegal carburetor.
The program host attempted to ask Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition, to comment on reports on the incident, including one from The Charlotte Observer.
NASCAR President Mike Helton was not pleased with the report and made his feelings clear in a heated discussion with Chris Long, Speed's vice president of studio production, sources confirmed Friday.
Speed Channel spokesman Erik Arneson said NASCAR officials believed the show reported the ousting of official Woody Neese, but were informed later, Neese's departure was attributed to an article in the Charlotte Observer during the segment.
NASCAR spokesperson, Jim Hunter refused comment, only saying, “It would serve no useful purpose.”
You’re right Jim, no useful purpose for NASCAR, that is.
EDWARDS Extends His Busch Lead – The top-10 Busch Series leaders after 9 of 35 races: 1. Edwards-1418, 2. Sorenson-1262, 3. Bowyer-1229, 4. K. Wallace-1088, 5. Truex-1070, 6. Hamlin-1070, 7. Lewis-1047, 8. Harvick-1035, 9. Biffle-1004, 10. Stremme-984.
The Nextel Cup and Busch Series are at Talladega, while the Craftsman Trucks will be at Madison, IL.
Saturday, April 30, Busch Series Aaron’s 312, race 9 of 36, 117 laps/312 miles, 2 p.m. TV: Fox.
Craftsman Truck Series Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200, race 5 of 25, 160 laps/200 miles, 8 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Sunday, May 1, Nextel Cup Aaron’s 499, race 9 of 36, 188 laps/500 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is Dale Jarrett’s teammate at Robert Yates Racing?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the defending winner of at next week’s Nextel Cup race in Talladega, AL? Answer. It is Jeff Gordon.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. You may write him at P. O. Box 160911, Mobile, AL 36616.
Blue Ridge’s Alex Stanton wrestled his way to third place in the 105-pound bracket at the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships held at the Hershey Arena, April 1-2.
Alex, a twelve-year old in seventh grade, is the son of Shelly and Melissa Stanton, Jackson, PA. This was Alex’s first year on the Junior High team. He won the District 2 West Sectional Tournament, and then went on to win the District 2 District Championship in the 110-pound bracket. Post season tournaments began, and Alex’s goal was to medal at the PJW tournament in Hershey. This included two qualifiers, one held at Western Wayne School, in which he placed first, qualifying him for the Area X Championships held at Loyalsock School in Williamsport, PA. Area X consists of 15 counties in NE PA. Alex won first place at this championship, therefore advancing him to Hershey where the eleven Areas of PA would meet. Alex only lost once out of the six bouts he wrestled, and earned third in Pennsylvania.
One of the highlights during the State Championships was when Rulon Gardner, 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, presented each wrestler with their medals, talked with the children and signed autographs. Alex finished his season accomplishing his goals and having a 2004-05 record of 46 wins, one loss, and 28 pins.
Brady Goldsmith and Patrick Bayer of Montrose battle Bishop Hannan at No. 1 Doubles
The Montrose Boys Tennis Team beat Bishop Hannan at home on April 20 and won at Scranton High on April 21. Montrose wins against Bishop Hannan were by Singles players Brady Goldsmith, Sean Jones and Andrew Bookin and the Doubles team of Mike Whitney/Lance Elliot in the rain shortened 4-1 victory. Montrose swept the Singles matches against Scranton with wins by Patrick Bayer, Brady Goldsmith, Sean Jones and Andrew Bookin on the way to the 5-2 win. The Doubles team of Bayer/ Goldsmith scored the fifth point. The Meteors record stands at 3-2.
Montrose was scheduled to play at West Scranton on April 26, and at home against Dunmore on April 28.
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