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Carly Graytock had earned herself a rest.
After two weeks off, the Forest City native returned to the road last week, putting on more miles in her effort to rise through the ranks of America's top marathon runners.
Graytock was the 14th overall woman in last month's Boston Marathon and finished third among United States women.
"I just started running this week," Graytock said. "I went two weeks without running. For a while, I'll just be trying to get some mileage back under me."
Graytock, 26, seems to have rushed on to the marathon scene. She qualified for last year's U.S. Olympic trials with a strong performance in just her second career marathon and this was her Boston debut.
The process, however, is not one that can be hurried.
The former Forest City High School and Bucknell University standout sees the marathon as her long-term pursuit, but she will build back up before her next effort at 26.1 miles.
"My next marathon may be next spring," said Graytock, who is part of the Hanson/Brooks Olympic Development Program in Michigan. "They don't like our athletes to get pigeon-holed as a marathon runner.
"The build-up, running the marathon and the recovery take a long time. I started preparing specifically for Boston in the second week of January so by the time you are done, it's almost half your year."
For that reason, Graytock plans to pass up the fall marathon schedule and aim for about half that distance in the 20K national championship in New Haven, Conn.
"I will work on 10Ks or maybe a half marathon, a shorter race, something a little quicker to get some work in," Graytock said. "For me, though, I have definitely realized that the marathon is my event.
"You just can't do one every other weekend."
Graytock could be a contender for the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
The rigors that marathon runners put their bodies through, however, make it a delicate process.
Graytock has learned about dealing with injuries and illness specifically in the past year.
Although she did not feel well in the weeks leading up to last year's Olympic Trial, Graytock tried to run. She had to drop out after 18 miles with stomach pain that was later diagnosed as ulcers.
The problems were just beginning.
Graytock developed a blood clot in her right calf, which begin to break apart. Several small clots were found near Graytock's lungs, forcing her into a five-day stay at Beaumont Hospital in suburban Detroit.
Graytock learned that she had a genetic mutation that made her susceptible to blood clots. Family members have been diagnosed as well.
The aftermath of the ulcers and blood clots left Graytock carefully monitoring her medication and diet.
"I can't take any anti-inflammatories and I have to be more careful," Graytock said. "I'm on a blood thinner and I have to be sure to eat right."
She did not, however, want to consider giving up her efforts as an elite runner.
After original warnings in the hospital that she might not be able to return to the same level, Graytock decided to take a shot.
Less than a year later, she ran her best marathon time when she finished Boston's demanding course in 2:44:02.
"After a few weeks, I said I'm going to get through this and give it a try," Graytock said. "I'm glad I didn't give up. I came back stronger.
"Maybe the rest helped me. I gave my body two months off."
Boston was a good place for the marathon comeback. Graytock knew the course well.
After graduating from Bucknell with a degree in biochemistry, she lived and worked in Boston and trained with the Boston Athletic Association, which sponsors the marathon. She has watched the Boston Marathon, including last year when she cheered on her father, Fran Graytock, as he ran the race.
"Realistically, I thought I probably couldn't win," Graytock said. "It had been over a year since the trials. I was confident in the shape I was in. I knew top 15 would be a good finish.
"I knew I had to run smart, not be too crazy in the first half and try to make a move in the second half of the race. I thought I would be able to beat some people who went out too aggressive and that's what happened."
Graytock's running career appears to be on track for her to continue developing. The sponsorship by Hanson/Brooks provides support with travel, entry and equipment costs and she has combined that with working part-time with Oxford Biomedical Research.
"They are understanding about my running," Graytock said. "When I came back from Boston they had signs all over.
"I'm glad I have a job in the lab. I didn't want to get too far from that."
Graytock, whose brothers Jesse and Adam also ran at Forest City and Bucknell, is also glad to have an arrangement gives her time to keep running.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Blue Ridge and Carbondale tied, 75-75, in girls' track, leaving them tied for the Lackawanna Track Conference Division III lead with 4-0-1 records.
County athletes performed well in invitational meets during the week.
The Blue Ridge team of Katrina Rinehimer, Beth Stone, Alicia Van Cott and Carly Devine won the 3200 relay during the Jordan Relays at Scranton Memorial Stadium Thursday night.
Larry Lundy of Montrose won both the shot put and the discus at the James Cross Wilkes-Barre Invitational.
Susquehanna's Amber Gaffey set a meet record at the Cross Invitational when she cleared 11-0 in the pole vault. Montrose's Jeanne Roszel won the 3200 meter run.
In high school softball highlights, Elk Lake remained undefeated and Blue Ridge's Brittany Pavelski struck out 10 of the 15 batters she faced in a five-inning perfect game against Susquehanna.
In professional baseball, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson is second in the International League with 13 stolen bases. Thompson's average is down to .205 but he has nine runs, four extra-base hits and nine walks while helping the Indianapolis Indians to the West Division lead.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are trying to duplicate their opening-round comeback victory over the Binghamton Senators.
Similar to the Binghamton series, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went to Philadelphia and lost the first two games without ever taking a lead.
Against Binghamton, the Penguins recovered with four straight wins behind the goaltending of Andy Chiodo.
After losing two straight 4-1 games, the Penguins defeated the Phantoms, 3-1, Saturday night as Chiodo improved to 4-0 at home in the playoffs.
Nadine Taylor and Andrea Dominick were the top two hitters on the Wilkes University softball team, both in batting order position and statistical rankings.
Wilkes finished its season at 27-13 when it lost to FDU-Florham, 6-1, Saturday in the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom League tournament. Wilkes went 9-5 in the Freedom League.
Taylor, a junior outfielder from Susquehanna, batted in the leadoff spot and led the team with a .394 average. She ranked first on the team in at-bats (132), runs (38), hits (52) and stolen bases (17 in 19 attempts). She was also tied for first with two sacrifice flies and ranked second in doubles (10), triples (two), home runs (six), RBIs (24) and slugging percentage (.636). Taylor was one of three Wilkes players to start all 40 games.
Dominick, a Clifford resident and a senior shortstop from Carbondale Sacred Heart High School, batted behind Taylor in the order and finished second on the team with a .354 average in 39 games. She led the team with four triples and was second in hits (46) and stolen bases (15).
Taylor and Dominick each went 1-for-3 as Wilkes was held to five hits in its final game.
THE WEEK AHEAD
District 2 will conduct its junior high track and field championships Saturday at Hanover Area.
Tennis singles and doubles play is scheduled to get underway Monday at the University of Scranton.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are at Philadelphia for Game Five of their series Friday. If Game Six is needed, it will be back in Wilkes-Barre Saturday.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
BIFFLE Wins Third Race Of ’05
Darlington, S.C. – Greg Biffle won Saturday’s Nextel Cup race for his third win of this season and fourth time in the last 11 races. He won the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and then captured the Auto Club 500 at California and Samsung RadioShack 500 at Texas earlier this year.
Greg Biffle and Jack Roush at Darlington
Even though he led the most laps on the treacherous 1.366-mile, egg-shaped Darlington oval, he fell behind on a late pit stop, but got another chance when Mark Martin spun, bringing out the 12th caution flag just five laps from the scheduled finish.
Ryan Newman, who had taken charge late in the race, chose to stay on the track while Biffle and several other contenders pitted for tires. When the green flag waved again for a two-lap shootout, beginning on lap 369 of the 370-lap race, Biffle, who was in fourth, took advantage of fresh tires. He passed Carl Edwards, Ken Schrader and, finally, Newman before taking the white flag for the last lap.
"We needed that last caution,” said Biffle. “There was no question in my mind we were coming for tires no matter what because for three laps you can pass probably 10 cars if 10 cars stayed out.
"We were chasing the thing all night. There near the end on the second-to-last run, we tried some tire pressure things and got my car way too loose. I thought, 'Why in the world would we wait until the last run to try something?'
“It went the wrong way, but we recovered from that. We were gonna end up second. I feel bad for Ryan Newman. He had a really strong car tonight and that's a tough decision to make. I probably lost the Busch race last night by not pitting for tires, but we didn't save Jack (Roush) a set of tires tonight.
“I think we're gonna win a couple more this season and we're gonna be tough when it comes down to the championship hunt."
Meanwhile Kurt Busch, Biffle’s teammate had a rough night and was summoned to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
He hit the wall on the first lap and had to pit for repairs. Later in the race, NASCAR officials said he moved into the wrong position during a caution. He was ordered to move further back in the line of cars, but refused.
He was sent to the pits for a two-lap penalty. While in the pits, officials ordered him to turn off his engine. He responded by revving it up, and then tossing a water bottle out the window, hitting an official.
There was no word from NASCAR as to whether he will be given additional penalties.
Jeff Gordon moved into second place in the season standings, 127 points behind Jimmie Johnson. Biffle is third, 148 behind, while Busch wound up 37th and slipped from second to fourth, 229 points back.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Greg Biffle, 2. Jeff Gordon, 3. Kasey Kahne, 4. Mark Martin, 5. Ryan Newman, 6. Jamie McMurray, 7. Jimmie Johnson, 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 9. Carl Edwards, 10. Tony Stewart.
Top-10 points leaders: Johnson-1519, 2. J. Gordon-1392, 3. Biffle-1371, 4. Busch-1290, 5. E. Sadler-1267, 6. Martin-1226, 7. Stewart-1222, 8. McMurray-1217, 9. Earnhardt-1212, 10. Newman-1205.
FROM THE PITS
Sterling Marlin finished the 650th start of his career in 41st place. Marlin and his team have had very little to celebrate this year, and unless the Columbia, TN driver can get back in victory lane, he won’t be at Chip Ganassi Racing next season.
“Right now, we don’t have a plan for Sterling next year,’ said Ganassi. “But if he wins a couple races, it’s not like we can’t change our plans.”
During a caution period on lap 195 at Darlington, Dale Jr. registered some suggestions for his team. (Because of the team-swap at DEI, Dale Jr. is driving cars originally prepared for Michael Waltrip).
Dale Jr.: “This car’s gas pedal needs to be moved down. I’m barely catchin’ it with the top of my foot and it hurts like hell. Y’all gotta move ‘em on all the cars. I’m not as big as Michael. It’s like the gas pedal is a foot off the floor… I need a board or a platform in here!”
According to an article in the Wichita Kansas Eagle, Jeff Gordon doesn’t hang around race tracks on his days off, like several other NASCAR stars. Gordon says he's just not interested in racing at other levels.
"Scuba diving and boating," Gordon said. "I just take a different route, you know. I want to get as far away from racing as possible. I feel like I've been racing pretty hard since I was 8 years old. To me, it's just nice to have other interests besides racing.
“I love racing, and if I got behind the wheel of a sprint car or a midget I'd enjoy it. But I just choose to venture out there and travel and go places, and do things that I want to do."
The top-10 Busch Series drivers after 11 of 35: 1. Edwards-1612, 2. Bowyer-1469, 3. Sorenson-1456, 4. Truex Jr.-1430, 5. Lewis-1328, 6. K. Wallace-1321, 7. Stremme-1304, 8. Hamlin-1295, 9. Biffle-1224, 10. Wood-1205.
The Nextel Cup and Busch series are at Richmond, VA, while the Craftsman Trucks race on the 0.5-mile Mansfield, Ohio track.
Friday, May 13, Busch Series Funai 250, race 12 of 35, 250 laps/187 miles, 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Saturday, May 14, Nextel Cup Chevy American Revolution 400, race 11 of 36, 400 laps/300 miles, 7 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, May 15, Craftsman Truck Ohio 250, race 6 of 25, 250 laps/125 miles, 2 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Winston Cup team was Ray Evernham associated with before starting his own racing team?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the driver of Joe Gibb’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet? Answer. It is Bobby Labonte.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. You may write him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
When an athlete has soared as high as Amber Gaffey has early in her high school track and field career, it should be difficult to reach new heights.
That was not the case for the Susquehanna sophomore as April came to a close.
Gaffey, the state Class AA runner-up in the pole vault a year ago, reached new career-highs in competition in three straight events.
For her effort, Gaffey has been named Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
Gaffey set a school record by clearing 10-9 in a meet at Montrose, then reached 11 feet against Blue Ridge in the following meet.
"At Montrose, I jumped pretty well in practice," Gaffey said. "I just got new poles and knew I could jump higher on them."
Improving again at the Blue Ridge meet was a pleasant surprise.
"It depends on the day," Gaffey said. "It was kind of windy at Blue Ridge so that was kind of a shocker."
Gaffey was not done yet.
Competing in the prestigious Penn Relays in Philadelphia, she went an inch higher to 11-1 to finish fifth out of 20 elite high school vaulters. She was encouraged to apply for the meet by her coaches at Vertical Assault in Bath, the Lehigh Valley facility where she trains exclusively in the pole vault twice a week throughout the year.
Although pole vaulting is clearly her specialty, Gaffey continues to find success in other events. She finished the month undefeated in the 100 meter hurdles and has also been successful in the 100 meters and the discus.
The hurdles and sprinting help in pole vaulting.
"You need to be really fast at the bar," Gaffey said.
Amber is the daughter of Robert and Dawn Gaffey of Thompson.
Despite a strong performance by the Montrose tennis team, they fell to perennial powerhouse Scranton Prep 0-7 on May 3. Next up for Montrose is a rescheduled match against Elk Lake on May 9, which closes out Montrose’s regular season.
Senior Brady Goldsmith returns a serve against Scranton Prep.
Patrick Bayer and Brady Goldsmith have qualified for the district singles tournament. Bayer and Goldsmith will also be competing as a team in the doubles tournament. Sean Jones and Andrew Bookin will be representing Montrose at districts as well as a doubles team.
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