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Scranton - Carly Devine went to the District 2 Class AA track and field championships thinking that the 3200 meter run represented her best chance of a top-two finish and a trip to the state championships.
The Blue Ridge senior ultimately got her second-place finish in the 3200, but first she executed a strategic trip to a gold medal in the 1600 meters.
By the time she left Scranton Memorial Stadium Thursday night, Devine was scratched from the state meet in the 3200 so that she could concentrate on the 1600 in the last event of her high school career.
Susquehanna's Amber Gaffey is among the group of county athletes who qualified for the state meet. The sophomore, who was second in the state meet last season, joined Devine as the only other county champion and bettered her own district record by clearing 11 feet in the pole vault.
While Gaffey fulfilled her status as a heavy favorite, the 1600 title caught even Devine a bit by surprise.
"I was more aiming for first or second in the two mile (3200) than the mile (1600)," Devine said.
Devine followed two higher-seeded runners for most of the first three laps. She was fifth after the first 400 meters, fourth after 800 meters and did not move into third until late in the third lap.
"On the second or third lap, I thought I might have lost it," Devine said. "I made myself stay with them."
After Devine passed Kenslie Kerestes of Dallas into second place on the first turn of the final lap, Kerestes went after her on the backstretch. The two surged past Montrose's Tara Chiarella and Devine used a strong finish to complete the 1600 in 5:18.44, more than eight seconds below her season best.
Chiarella took third in 5:24.32 and Elk Lake freshman Ellen Squier was sixth in 5:36.54.
Devine's combination of a first- and second-place finish made her one of three county athletes to qualify for the state meet in two events. Kyle Adriance of Montrose made it in both the high jump and hurdles while teammate Larry Lundy made it in the shot put and discus.
Although Lundy is among the state's top throwers, Gaffey probably represents the county's best shot at a gold medal during the state meet which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
Gaffey took a shot at a personal best of 11-3 and just missed on her third attempt when the bar shook first before falling.
"I thought I had it, then I heard the way the crowd reacted," said Gaffey, who was the center of attention at the meet during a quiet time on the track in afternoon qualifying.
After winning the league meet by three feet, Gaffey had more competition, taking the title by 18 inches.
"I just try to concentrate on what I do," she said. "But, it was nice having the competition. You get a break between jumps that way."
Gaffey did not take her first attempt until 8-6 when the field was already trimmed to the top four contenders.
Adriance was the only county athlete to come away with three individual medals. He was second in both the high jump and 100 hurdles and sixth in the long jump.
After qualifying in the high jump last season, Adriance will be making his state debut in the hurdles. Adriance finished behind Lakeland's Nick Chaykosky, but avenged a loss to Carbondale's Derek Lutchko to take second.
"I knew it was going to be a real good race," said Adriance, who finished in 15.81 seconds after qualifying in 16.42 seconds.
Adriance made the state meet in the high jump last season by hitting the state qualifying standard at 6-4.
"I was pretty much thinking I had to get second place," Adriance said. "I knew Shawn (Sabalesky of Wilkes-Barre Meyers) was jumping well. I'm trying to get back to 6-4, but I've been struggling with that all year."
Adriance finished second with a jump of 6-2. He went 20-1 1/4 in the long jump to finish sixth.
Lundy was in a strong pack of throwers again. Lakeland's Joe Tuzze had the five best efforts in the shot put by more than 2 1/2 feet and set a record while earning the gold medal.
Lundy took second in the shot put in 49-7 and second in the discus in 159-3.
Mountain View's Matthew Pfahl was third in the long jump in 20-11, but wound up going to the state meet when one of the top two jumpers scratched from the event.
The best team finish was produced by the Montrose boys.
The Meteors were fourth with 53 points, behind Lakeland with 120, Scranton Prep with 82 and Wilkes-Barre Meyers with 58.
Mountain View was 15th with six points. Blue Ridge was 19th with a point. Elk Lake and Susquehanna did not score.
Adam Poodiack was third in the 300 hurdles for Montrose in 41.55 seconds.
Nick Staats finished in a tie for third in the pole vault, clearing 12 feet.
Bob O'Malley supported Lundy's effort in the shot put by finishing fourth in 48-7 1/4.
The Meteors also had a fourth-place finish in the 400 relay. The team of Staats, Bud Roszel, Tom Burgh and Matt Lopez finished in 45.36 seconds.
Jared Olah added a sixth-place finish with a javelin throw of 154-3.
Mike Kovatch of Blue Ridge missed out on a medal with a seventh-place finish in 2:06.05 in the 800. Kovatch, however, gained a point for his team when Mike Dougherty of Bishop Hafey finished fourth. Because Bishop Hafey does not sponsor a team during the season, Dougherty was allowed to earn a medal but not score any team points.
Blue Ridge was seventh in the girls' meet with 28 points, one spot in front of Montrose, which had 24 1/4. Susquehanna was 15th with 10 points. Elk Lake was 16th with four. Mountain View did not score.
Lakeland beat out Dallas, 114 1/4 -89 1/4, for the team title.
Devine Blue Ridge's team effort by anchoring the 3200 relay to a bronze medal in addition to her individual gold and silver. Katrina Rinehimer, Alicia VanCott and Beth Stone were also part of the relay team.
Mindy Stanton added a fourth-place finish in the shot put in 32-4 3/4.
Montrose was led by Chiarella's distance running a combination of three high jumpers.
In addition to her third-place finish in the 1600, Chiarella was sixth in the 3200 in 12:25.39.
Carrie Fischer was third in the high jump at 5-0. Chelsey Parvin was fifth at 4-10 and Kate LaBarbera was tied for sixth at 4-8.
LaBarbera also had a fifth-place finish with a javelin throw of 101-10.
Khayla Shearer took fourth in the pole vault at 8-6.
Steffany Jahnke was sixth with a long jump of 15-0 1/2.
LaBarbera and Jahnke also ran the last two legs of a 400 relay team that took fifth in 53.38 seconds. Mariah Castrogiavanni and Kristen Travis ran the first two legs.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna County had another winner during last week's District 2 track and field championships.
Susquehanna graduate Frank Passetti coached Abington Heights to the Class AAA team title in his first season as head coach.
Passetti had the advantage of the meet's top athlete in Alea Murphy, who finished first against strong fields in both hurdles races. Murphy also finished second in the long jump and anchored the winning 1600 relay team.
The team title, however, materialized from several other key performances.
The Lady Comets won the first and last relays of the meet; Heather Spangenberg pulled off an upset win in the 400; Colleen Gavigan passed two runners from second-place Delaware Valley down the stretch on the way to second place in the 1600; and Marissa Steppacher came up with a surprise second-place finish in the javelin.
Abington Heights outscored Delaware Valley, 100-83, just a week after suffering its only loss of the season to the Lady Warriors. The Lady Comets finished in a three-way tie for the Lackawanna Track Conference Division I title.
Passetti oversees the entire track program at Abington Heights. Although the boys' varsity struggled this season, the boys' junior high team finished third out of 37 schools in the District 2 meet.
In high school softball, Elk Lake completed an unbeaten regular season to take the Lackawanna League Division III title.
The Lady Warriors put together what coach Tony Blaisure described as their best effort of the season May 16 to essentially wrap up the division with a 9-2 victory at Mid Valley.
Mid Valley came into the game, which was played at night on its home field, with a chance to tie for the division lead.
"It was a big game, a different time and it was played in front of a couple hundred people," Blaisure said. "It was definitely a good time to play our best league game of the year.
"We did not have any errors and everyone contributed in the lineup."
Although Mid Valley scored twice, Blaisure said it also ranked as one of Katherine Lucenti's top pitching performances. Lucenti had six shutouts this season.
Blaisure made one lineup adjustment as the postseason approached. He inserted freshman Heather Griffiths into the batting order as the designated player, hitting for Lucenti.
"This gives Katherine more opportunity to solely concentrate on her pitching," Blaisure said.
In high school tennis, all four local singles players were eliminated in their first matches in the District 2 Class AA tournament.
Kyle Hanjaras of Elk Lake took J.D. Warner of North Pocono to three sets before falling, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.
Montrose's Brady Goldsmith fell to Bishop Hafey's Michael Sidari, 6-2, 6-4.
Pat Bayer of Montrose and Gary Ceppa of Elk Lake each received first-round byes before losing matches, 6-0, 6-0. Bayer fell to Mike DiStefano of Valley View while Ceppa lost to Drew Slocum of Dallas.
Susquehanna graduate Nadine Taylor, a junior outfielder from Thompson, has been named Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom League Softball Player of the Year for her performance at Wilkes University this season.
Taylor, the team's center fielder and leadoff hitter, batted .394 with six home runs for the Lady Colonels. She also stole 17 bases.
Senior shortstop Andrea Dominick, a Clifford resident who played at Carbondale Sacred Heart High School, was a second-team conference all-star for the second time in three seasons. Dominick batted .354 with 15 stolen bases.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The District 2 baseball and softball tournament is scheduled for this week.
Elk Lake's unbeaten record and division title earned the Lady Warriors the top seed in Class AA softball. The other 15 teams in the tournament were scheduled to get started Monday, but Elk Lake had a bye until Wednesday's quarterfinals.
Blaisure said he expected Lackawanna Trail to receive a forfeit from Wilkes-Barre Meyers and wind up being Elk Lake's opponent.
Montrose declined to participate in the open tournament.
Mountain View is seeded 12th. The Lady Eagles needed to win at Lake-Lehman Monday in order to advance into a meeting with the winner of the Nanticoke/Wilkes-Barre GAR game. The Class AA semifinals are scheduled for Friday.
In Class A softball, defending state champion Blue Ridge is the fourth seed in the district, meaning the Lady Raiders do not begin play until Thursday's quarterfinal at home against Wyoming Seminary.
Forest City was seeded sixth, earning a home game with Carbondale Sacred Heart that was scheduled for Tuesday. A win would put the Lady Foresters into a Thursday game at third-seeded Bishop O'Hara at 2:30.
The Class A semifinals are scheduled for May 31.
Susquehanna chose not to be in the tournament.
In Class AA baseball, Elk Lake is the 12th seed and will play at Mid Valley Wednesday.
Montrose and Mountain View were the bottom two seeds in the 18-team field and needed to win road games that were scheduled for Monday in order to advance to Wednesday's action. Montrose needed to beat Hanover Area for a shot at top-seeded Riverside. Mountain View needed to get past Scranton Prep for a chance to face second-seeded Bishop Hoban.
In Class A, Forest City was at Blue Ridge Monday for a chance to play at second-seeded Pittston Seton Catholic in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
Susquehanna was scheduled to play at Bishop O'Reilly Monday with the winner to go to top-seeded Bishop Hannan Wednesday.
Both baseball tournaments continue with semifinal play Friday.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
MARTIN Is The Newest Star
Concord, N.C. – Mark Martin’s win in Saturday’s Nextel All-Star Challenge didn’t convince him to call off his retirement plans at the end of this season, but he did agree to defend his title in 2006.
His appearance in the All-Star Challenge and its $1 million prize was supposed to be his final appearance in the dash-for-cash race. But after crossing the finish line at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Martin told his Roush Racing team he's willing to come back for more.
"Thank you guys! Thank you!" Martin screamed over his radio. "I'll be back next year if you give me a ride!"
As an All-Star race winner, Martin is eligible to enter all future All-Star races regardless of whether he competes the rest of the year.
Martin was in second place, lined up next to leader Elliott Sadler, on a restart with 19 laps left in the race. But Sadler struggled on the restart and seemed to bump into the side of Martin. The contact knocked Sadler out of line, and Martin darted into the lead.
Martin, on the outside, got away cleaner than Sadler did, and that was the story of the race, as far as Sadler was concerned.
"We had an awesome race car," Sadler said. "I'm not sure what happened on the restart, if I came up or Mark came down, but I think I knocked my front fender in and I was a little tight from there on.”
Brian Vickers, who raced his way into the event by winning the Nextel Heat before the All-Star Challenge was third. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson Dale Jarrett, Kurt Busch, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-10.
War Of Words Between HARVICK And NEMECHEK – Hostilities between Kevin Harvick and Joe Nemechek resurfaced again during Saturday night’s All Star Challenge, after both drivers had been involved in a nine car accident.
The wreck finished the night for eight drivers - Stewart, Harvick, Nemechek, Martin Truex, Jr., Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip, Terry Labonte and Carl Edwards. Only Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to return to racing.
But ironically, neither driver was to blame for the wreck.
Coming off of Turn 4 on the 36th lap of the race's first segment, Stewart bumped the rear bumper of Nemechek, sending him into Harvick's car and a chain reaction ensued.
When Nemechek and Harvick got out of their cars, they first gestured angrily at each other, and then they got into a brief shoving match as the Lowe's crowd and a national television audience looked on.
"He can take that and shove it where the sun don't shine, baby," said Harvick.
After surveying the damage on his car, Nemechek shouted, "Hey, if you want to have it, let's go at it, big boy.”
Nemechek and Harvick have had confrontations in the past. Nemechek's car was a casualty after Harvick bumped Jimmie Johnson during a qualifying race earlier this season at Daytona. Nemechek threw a water bottle at Harvick then, nearly hitting him.
"He thinks he owns the race track and the racing world,” continued Nemechek.
A Disappointed MATT KENSETH – Throughout this season, starting with Daytona, it seems Matt Kenseth has been in a dog fight almost every week. He started off with a 42nd place finish, and hasn’t seen much daylight since.
Kenseth has never been a great finisher, but he has been consistent. When he won the 2003 Winston Cup title and had winnings of nearly $10-million, he only had one win, but there were 23 finishes inside the top-10.
His only top-10 finish this year has been an eighth at Las Vegas in March.
But what is even odder about his performance, is that all of his teammates at Roush Racing are doing well. Greg Biffle has three wins, Edwards and Busch, one each, and Mark Martin has run well.
So just what is the problem?
“You know, it's been disappointing for sure,” said Kenseth. “There's been a few races where we ran pretty well, but had some bad things happen during the race. We ran really well at Daytona and California, but didn’t get good finishes.
“The races we've ran bad, we didn’t have any problems. Then there's been races like Phoenix where we ran good all day and had a tire come apart for some unknown reason.
“When we've been running good, we've had bad luck on the track. When we've been running bad, we've had okay luck and finished. We just haven't been able to get things to go our way yet.
“You know, when your teammates are winning, you want to be winning too. But if you can't win, you definitely want your teammates to win because that means you’ve got the equipment that's capable of doing it. It’s encouraging to know that if things don't go our way; we still have all the tools we need.
“With just one top-10, it has been really frustrating because I know that all of us are capable of doing much better. And there have been a lot of things that have been out of our control.
“You know, the last two weeks, we've just ran awful, which is even more frustrating. It's one thing to be running good and blow a tire out and not really have done anything wrong, you know, not know why it blows out for sure, but knowing that we really didn't do anything wrong and get a bad finish.
“It's frustrating, but there's not a lot we can really do about it. It's not going to do any good to get mad. We just have to keep working on it. Everybody is working on the cars as hard as they can. They've been testing and trying to get everything better.
“We know we have the equipment to do it; we just have to keep working on it and figure out what we need to make the cars go fast.”
Chase For the Nextel Cup Contenders: 1. Johnson-1562, 2. Biffle-1521, 3. J. Gordon-1438, 4. Sadler-1413, 5. Busch-1407, 6. Stewart-1397, 7. Newman-1370, 8. Harvick-1364, 9. McMurray-1351, 10. Martin-1344.
MUSGRAVE Takes Over Truck Lead – The top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 7 of 25; 1. Musgrave-1088, 2. Hamilton-1047, 3. Craven-1029, 4. Spencer-993, 5. Setzer-940, 6. Hornaday-930, 7. Benson-897, 8. Crafton-880, 9. T. Bodine-863, 10. Sprague-858.
There was no Busch Series racing this past weekend, and the Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge was a non-points event.
The Nextel Cup and Busch teams will be at Charlotte, while the Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off. This Sunday’s 600-mile Coca Cola 600 will be the longest race of the year.
Saturday, May 28, Busch Series Carquest Auto parts 300, race 13 of 35, 200 laps/300 miles, 6:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, May 29, Coca Cola 600, race 12 of 36, 400 laps/600 miles, 5 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: What is Tony Stewart’s real name?
Last Week’s Question: Which series is Ricky Craven driving in this year? Answer. He is driving the No. 99 Roush Ford in the Craftsman Truck Series.
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.
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