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When Blue Ridge coach Tom Lewis sends his cross country teams out in competition, he has no idea which runners will make it back to the finish line first.
Fortunately for Lewis, several of his runners often make it back among the leaders in the Lackawanna League's multi-school cluster meets, giving the Raiders a winning combination.
The Blue Ridge girls went into their scheduled season finale on Tuesday needing just one more set of wins to claim the Lackawanna Class AA title.
While the boys are not in title contention, they have put together the best record in the five seasons that Lewis has been back for his second stint coaching the program.
The boys took an 11-8 record into the week while the girls put themselves in position to improve on last year's 21-2 record by building an 18-1 mark going into the last meet against Mountain View, Lakeland, Susquehanna and Lackawanna Trail.
"The boys' team I knew would be right around .500," Lewis said. "The girls I knew would be alright. But to go 23-1, like is possible, is a little surprising.
"I knew we had girls there to do that, but it was all about what they did in the summer and how the freshmen came on.
"Katrina (Rinehimer) has been a great leader."
Rinehimer, a four-year letter winner, was one of the runners on last year's team that qualified for the state meet.
Rinehimer and first-year team members Beth Stone and Maegan Lewis have all led the team in at least one meet this season. Stone, a junior, had played soccer in the past but was part of the track team in the spring. Lewis is a freshman.
Stone led the way last week when Blue Ridge got a chance to host the cluster meet involving six schools. She was second overall, behind only Montrose standout Tara Chiarella, while helping the Raiders beat Bishop O'Hara, 16-47; Dunmore, 21-39; and Riverside, 15-50.
Laurie Hall, Brenda Reed and Janelle Collins are also back from the state qualifying team from last year.
Becky Stone, Courtney Gordon and Cassandra Summers have each worked themselves into the top seven at times.
Megan Kliner and Morgan Sinnett complete the lineup.
Blue Ridge suffered its only loss against unbeaten Class AAA leader Wallenpaupack on opening day. The Raiders handed Scranton Prep a loss in a head-to-head meeting of the top two Class AA teams.
Seniors Mike Kovatch, Tim Decker and Travis McArthur are the three runners that have traded the top spot for the boys' team.
Another senior Andrew Canfield and juniors Ryan Kane, Ian Hodges and Steve Esposito are usually involved in the scoring.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna dominated the first half then produced just enough big plays in the second half to hold on to its comfortable lead in a 40-21 Homecoming Day victory over Riverside in Saturday's Lackawanna Football Conference game.
The Sabers got touchdown runs from three different players in the first 12:24 to take a 20-0 lead in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Susquehanna racked up huge first-half statistical advantages while taking a 27-6 lead. The Sabers led the Vikings in first downs, 13-1; in rushing yards, 234-minus 20; and in total yards, 247-minus 2, at the break.
Bob Reddon led the defense, storming into the Riverside backfield to make tackles for losses twice in the first seven plays. Reddon finished with two sacks among his five total tackles for losses and got assists on two other plays that lost yards. He finished with eight tackles and three assists.
"We played pretty well, but we did make some mistakes," Susquehanna coach Dick Bagnall said. "We had them pretty well corralled.
"We're getting better. We're starting to play smarter than we had been."
Riverside, which got its only first-half score on a 58-yard interception return by Joe Strok, played Susquehanna on even terms in the second half but was unable to mount a significant rally because of two big plays.
Dustin Shaw alertly caught a short punt on a high bounce along the sideline and raced 28 yards untouched for a 33-13 lead with 10:05 left.
The Vikings struggled with their punting throughout the day and got off a two-yard kick, high and off to the left, into a strong wind.
Anthony Dorunda then kept to the right side and went 67 yards to blow the game open, 40-13, with 7:40 left.
The carry allowed Dorunda to join running backs Ernie Taylor and C.J. Felter in giving the Sabers three 100-yard rushers for the game.
Riverside elected to go with odd over shifting defensive fronts and an emphasis on getting to Dorunda, but left itself vulnerable to dive and veer handoffs. The Vikings forced six fumbles, two of which the Sabers lost, and threw Dorunda for losses eight times, but gave up 9.5 yards per carry.
Susquehanna finished with 360 yards rushing on 38 carries.
Taylor carried nine times for 125 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He gained at least eight yards on seven of the nine carries, including a 48-yarder on his only run of the second half.
Felter carried eight times for 119 yards and scored a 66-yard touchdown 24 seconds into the second quarter. He had at least four yards on ever carry, including gains of six, 19 and nine yards on his three first-quarter attempts.
"We felt they were going to go after Anthony because of what Old Forge did," Bagnall said. "Felter and Ernie ran a lot better."
Despite the losses, Dorunda still managed 108 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He ran 36 yards, handed to Felter for 19 yards then ran again for a three-yard touchdown to complete the game-opening drive.
Nick Ott's juggling catch in the end zone with 4:32 left in the half resulted in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Dorunda on the only completion in five Susquehanna pass attempts.
Taylor and Chris Balliet recovered fumbles for the Sabers in the second quarter.
In another Lackawanna Football Conference game, Montrose remained winless when it lost to Carbondale, 44-16, in Division II.
In girls' soccer, Montrose suffered its first loss of the season then had to come back from a pair of deficits to defeat Mountain View, 4-3, Wednesday night.
The Lady Meteors outshot Lakeland, 14-11, but suffered a 2-0 loss that left each team tied for the Lackawanna League North Division lead with one loss.
Montrose protected its share of that lead when Brittany Ely and Autumn Ely scored second-half goals 9:33 apart to break a 2-2 tie.
Amber Lattner assisted on both second-half goals after scoring on a penalty kick in the final minute of the half to force the 2-2 tie.
Mountain View's Whitney Williams scored two goals, including one 5:48 into the game for the early lead.
Chelsea Lunger answered for Montrose on an assist from Maggie McNamara.
Stacey Morrison put Mountain View back ahead on an assist from Gina Cicco.
In high school golf, Montrose and Forest City each made the Lackawanna League playoffs.
After receiving a first-round bye in the 12-team tournament because of their second-place finish in the North Division, the Meteors sat idle all week because of weather postponements. At press time, they were scheduled to meet Dunmore Monday in a league quarterfinal.
Forest City won a preliminary round match then was shut out, 9-0, by South Division champion Scranton Prep in the quarterfinals.
Prep awaits the Montrose-Dunmore winner.
In girls' tennis, Abington Heights edged Montrose, 3-2, in the first match of a three-way playoff for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Tennis League Eastern Division title.
Sarah Golis remained unbeaten in league play with a win at second singles. Amanda Lass-Brianna Gieski provided the other point with a win at second doubles.
The loss eliminated the Lady Meteors from division title contention, but they were scheduled to be back in action this week for the District 2 Class AA team tournament.
In professional hockey, Justin Papineau's natural hat trick spoiled the Binghamton Senators' home opener Saturday night and lifted the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to a 5-4 American Hockey League victory.
The Senators led, 3-2, before Papineau scored his three straight goals. He connected at 13:39 of the second period, then scored power-play goals at 19:19 of the second and 5:03 of the third.
Jeff Heerema scored two goals and Steve Martins added a goal and two assists for Binghamton.
Dana Bennett, a sophomore striker from Forest City, is the third-leading scorer on the Wilson College women's soccer team.
Wilson is a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III school in Chambersburg. The soccer program at Wilson is in its sixth season and is a member of the Atlantic Women's Colleges Conference.
Bennett started all but one game last season when Wilson posted its best record ever at 6-8. She has started all eight games this season in the team's 4-4 start.
Bennett, who also started on the basketball team as a freshman, leads Wilson in assists with three. She is second on the team in goals (two) and points (seven).
Included among her two goals is one game-winner when Bennett scored the first goal to start a two-goal, one-assist effort in a 7-0 win over Trinity College.
American Hockey League East Division rivals meet for the first time this season when the Binghamton Senators play at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Saturday night.
In high school football, Montrose and Susquehanna are both home for divisional games.
Montrose (0-2 in the division, 0-6 overall) is home Friday night against Scranton Prep (1-1, 4-3) in Division II of the LFC. Susquehanna (1-1, 3-4) is home Saturday against Mid Valley (0-2, 4-3) in Division III.
After a shaky start to the season, our high school football predictions improved to 9-1 in Week Six, which was extended by weather postponements. Last week's predictions then went 10-0 to improve our season record to 57-18 (76.0 percent).
Not only were all the picks correct, but the predicted final margin of Carbondale over Montrose by 28 was an exact hit. In addition, the actual winning margins by Delaware Valley, Scranton, Lackawanna Trail and Old Forge were within two points of what was predicted in this space and combined with the Susquehanna and Dunmore wins to make seven of 10 games within five points of the predicted margin.
This week's predictions, with winners in CAPS: SCRANTON PREP 32, Montrose 16; MID VALLEY 30, Susquehanna 15; LACKAWANNA TRAIL 28, Old Forge 24; CARBONDALE 33, Dunmore 0; DELAWARE VALLEY 57, Valley View 18; WEST SCRANTON 33, Honesdale 15; LAKELAND 44, Western Wayne 3; SCRANTON 23, North Pocono 21; BISHOP O'HARA 32, Riverside 14; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 45, Wallenpaupack 0.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
JOHNSON And STEWART Tied For Chase Lead
Concord, NC – Saturday night’s UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, which was won by Jimmie Johnson, was a blowout in the truest sense, as tire issues caused a good majority of the record 15 cautions and one red-flag period.
Johnson won the event, passing Joe Nemechek with nine laps to go and holding off Kurt Busch in a green-white-checkered finish to win. It is Johnson’s fourth win in a row at LMS.
Despite a failed alternator, bad battery, and a faulty electrical system, Johnson overcame every problem thrown his way – including the tire troubles that turned Saturday night's event into a laughingstock – to win his fourth consecutive race at Lowe's, and move into a tie with Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.
"I don't have a clue what took place,'' Johnson said. "We had problem after problem. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be.
"I can't believe that we always end up somehow toward the front at the end of a race ... this one in the closing laps after a long night of adversity. We changed batteries, the alternator had some troubles, flat tire, all kinds of crazy things.''
Tony Stewart had a dominant car, leading five times for 61 laps and seemingly on his way toward significantly increasing his already sizeable lead in the championship point standings.
But a cut right rear tire while leading on lap 216 of the 336-lap race sent Stewart backward into the turn three wall, ending his shot at victory and erasing what had been a 75-point lead.
"We did the best with what we had," said Stewart. "We had the fastest car all night. Zippy (Greg Zippadelli, crew chief) told me that 42 out of 43 cars had tire problems, so welcome to the wonderful world of racing. It was a weird night.
"I don't think it was Goodyear's fault," said Stewart in reference to the tire manufacturer. "It's a bad set of circumstances that started before the May race and everybody involved did their part to make it as good as they could. I don't know that you can point the finger at anybody. This is just what we had to deal with tonight. We'll take our lumps and go on from here."
Johnson, Biffle and Mark Martin, who finished fifth, also made big strides in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, closing in on leader Tony Stewart. Biffle is now 11 points back. Ryan Newman, seventh Saturday night, is 17 behind. Martin is 51 back, a single point behind Carl Edwards, who finished 10th.
Chase for the Nextel Cup Contenders after 5 of 10 races: 1. Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson-5777, 3. Biffle-5766, 4. Newman-5760, 5. Martin-5726, 6. Edwards-5723, 7. Wallace-5685, 8. Mayfield-5662, 9. Kenseth-5653, 10. Busch-5635.
The remaining top-25 drivers: 11. Sadler-3507, 12. Harvick-3496, 13. McMurray-3492, 14. Nemechek-3490, 15. Vickers-3444, 16. Jarrett-3389, 17. J. Gordon-3385, 18. Burton-3227, 19. Kyle Busch-3215, 20. Earnhardt-3210, 21. Kahne-3207, 22. Rudd-3141, 23. Waltrip-3047, 24. Mears-3018, 25. B. Labonte-2957.
Don’t Haul Down The Confederate Flag – Hold on there, Mr. France. Fans don’t want you to haul down the Stars and Bars, just yet.
NASCAR CEO Brian France has suggested the Confederate battle flag is a symbol that holds NASCAR back and one he hopes to distance the sport from. Do you think NASCAR should take action to prohibit the flag's display at races?
According to a poll conducted by the Charlotte, NC Observer, only eight per cent of fans said they thought it should go.
Seventy three per cent said it should stay, while 19 per cent said the green and checkered flags were the only ones they cared about.
It’s a shame that the France family has forgotten that it was those Confederate flag waving people that made his family into the billionaires they are today.
Personally, if I were one of the France’s, every time I saw a Confederate flag I would kiss it. Not just for what it stood for decades ago, but the prosperity it has brought to the NASCAR nation.
Penalize Driver, Team, And Owner – In a previous column we asked fans to share their opinions about how NASCAR enforces their rules and policies. These quotes are from T. M. of Marshes Siding, KY.
“I think they should penalize anyone who tries to improve their car more than is allowed, like Johnson and Busch at Dover. I think that for starters, if someone is caught cheating, they should have to stay out of at least one race, and lose double points.
“Second, the driver, crew chief, and car owner should be fined double, because they all know the rules.
“There are a lot of good drivers in NASCAR that don’t get the chance to race fair, because of people like Johnson and Busch. The way I see it, if you have to cheat, you don’t deserve the right to race. The cheaters are not worthy to be a NASCAR driver.
“NASCAR has been a family tradition, and I have watched it since I was a little girl. NASCAR officials should put their foot down and stop the cheating, or they are going to lose a lot of fans.”
You Ask The Question – Now, it’s your turn to ask your favorite driver or NASCAR official a question.
Here’s how it will work. Send, or e-mail me your question about any driver, team, or NASCAR.
I will take your question to Atlanta Motor Speedway, Oct. 29-30, and try to get it answered. Once I return from Atlanta, I will send you the answer.
One question only, and it must reach me by Thursday, October 27.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Truex-4341, 2. Bowyer-4221, 3. Sorenson-4018, 4. Edwards-3985, 5. Hamlin-3696, 6. K. Wallace-3659, 7. Menard-3555, 8. Keller-3365, 9. D. Green-3360, 10. Biffle-3355.
The Nextel Cup and Craftsman Truck teams are at Martinsville, VA, while the Busch teams race at Memphis, TN.
Saturday, October 22, Craftsman Trucks Kroger 200, race 21 of 25, 200 laps/105 miles, 1 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series Sam’s Town 250, race 32 of 35, 250 laps/187 miles, 3:30 p.m. TV: TNT.
Sunday, October 23, Subway 500, race 32 of 36, 500 laps/263 miles, 12:30 p.m. TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: How many full-time Cup teams does Hendrick Motorsports have?
Last Week’s Question: How many races are there in this year’s Chase for the Nextel Cup? Answer. The Nextel Chase for the Championship consists of 10 races.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may write him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
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