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Defending state Class AA pole vault champion Amber Gaffey took a break from her high school schedule last week to compete in one of track and field's most prestigious events.
The Susquehanna junior was one of 19 high school pole vaulters selected to participate in the 112th Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Gaffey cleared 10-10 1/4 to finish tied for 10th with Stephanie McDougal of North Penn High School in Lansdale.
Easton's Lindsay Regan won the competition by a foot, with a height of 12-8.
The Penn Relays drew a field of 3,398 relay teams and 2,364 individual entries for college and high school competitions.
"It's a lot of fun," Gaffey said. "I stayed the whole day and watched the 4 by 100s."
The Penn Relays appearance was the second for Gaffey
With the high school postseason approaching, Gaffey is working on making the subtle adjustments necessary to try to improve once at a high level in the pole vault. She has cleared 11 feet this season during a home high school meet.
"I'm trying to get my hands faster during the plant and turn faster up the pole," she said.
Gaffey is also competing in the 100 hurdles and discus for the Lady Sabers. She may try to compete in either event during the Lackawanna League meet to test to see whether it makes sense to compete in those events on the district level. The District 2 meet is where she will be trying to qualify for a chance to defend her state title while seeking a third state medal overall in the pole vault.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Blue Ridge remained undefeated in Lackawanna League Division IV softball then added two impressive non-league victories.
The Lady Raiders beat Forest City, 16-0, and Bishop Hannan, 11-1, and have now beaten their last four league opponents by a total of 50-1.
Blue Ridge then won two straight games over programs that have state titles in their history while winning the Tournament of Champions Saturday. The Lady Raiders downed Fleetwood, 7-0, in the first game, then beat host Central Columbia, 2-0, in nine innings for the title.
In professional baseball, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson needed just one week to use his speed to move into the International League lead in triples.
Thompson earned a promotion from Class AA Altoona to Class AAA Indianapolis with a strong start at the plate. The center fielder was hitting .340 through 14 games for the Eastern League's Altoona Curve.
After jumping up to the IL and the Indianapolis Indians April 21, Thompson had three triples in his first eight games to move into a tie for the league season lead. His strong hitting continued with a .375 average and three doubles in eight games. He has 12 runs scored and three stolen bases.
Other baseball promotions led to two former first-round draft picks living up to billing after arriving with the Binghamton Mets and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons for the first time.
Right-hander Mike Pelfrey made the jump to the Class AA Mets in time for just the fifth game of his professional career.
Pelfrey, 22, was the ninth player selected overall in last year's baseball draft when the New York Mets selected the All-American from Wichita State. After signing with the Mets in January, Pelfrey went 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA and struck out 26 while walking only two in 22 innings at Class A to earn a quick promotion from Port St. Lucie.
Pelfrey worked 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the Mets Saturday in a 1-0 loss to the Erie Seawolves. He struck out eight while giving up just three hits and two walks and allowing only one runner to reach second base.
The effort was not enough for the struggling Mets, who lost for the fifth time in six games to slip to 11-11 on the season. They were shut out for the third time in four games.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons were moving in the opposite direction when Cole Hamels arrived at the Class AAA level for the first time.
Hamels, a 22-year-old left-hander, joined a team that matched a franchise record with 10 straight victories. He turned professional three years ago and was 11-3 with a 1.54 ERA when able to pitch around a series of injuries, none of which created the fear of being long-term issues.
When Hamels started out 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings at Class A Clearwater, the parent Philadelphia Phillies decided it was time to move him up.
Hamels struck out 14 in seven shutout innings and did not allow a walk while giving up just three hits in his debut Thursday. He pitched for the team the day after it had a 10-game winning streak broken, leading a 5-0 win over the Norfolk Tides that started a three-game winning streak to improve the Red Barons to 16-7 on the season.
The Red Barons also won 10 straight June 3-11, 1992 and June 4-13, 2004.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins survived an historic first-round series to advance in the American Hockey League's Calder Cup playoffs.
The Penguins had to win the final two games and four out of the last five to rally and defeat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the first seven-game series in the league's 70-year history to be decided by seven straight one-goal games.
Going into Saturday night's finale in Wilkes-Barre, the series also had the chance to be just the second in league history in which the road team won all seven games.
The AHL East Division champion Penguins avoided elimination when they made home ice stand up as an advantage Saturday night in a 5-4 victory.
The Penguins tied the series for the first time April 25 when Dany Sabourin made 33 saves and Maxime Talbot scored the game's only goal in the final of the second period during a 1-0 victory.
With two straight wins and a 2-0 lead Thursday, the Penguins appeared to have seized control of the series, only to fall to a comeback that culminated in Masi Marjamaki's goal 2:11 into overtime for a 3-2 Bridgeport victory.
Ryan Stone scored at 13:39 of overtime Friday for a 3-2 Penguins victory in Game Six, extending the series to a seventh and deciding game.
Jonathan Filewich's empty-net goal between a pair of Bridgeport scores in the final three minutes allowed the Penguins to hang on for the victory.
"It was a grueling series on the players," Penguins coach Joe Mullen said. "Three overtime games; right to the wire every night.
"I'll try to rest them up for the next series."
Rachel Hall, a junior from Blue Ridge, is continuing her successful running career at Mansfield University.
Hall, already a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference all-star in cross country, set a school outdoor track and field record in the 5,000 meters. Hall set her record with a time of 17:54.05, qualifying for the PSAC Championships in the process, during the Bison Outdoor Classic at Bucknell.
Hall then had a pair of second-place finishes in the 15-team College Track Conference Championships at DeSales University. She took second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:16.21, making her a provisional qualifier for the National College Athletic Association Division II championship meet. Hall also helped the 3200 relay team finish second.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Track teams get a chance to warm up for the postseason Thursday in the Jordan Relays at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
In professional hockey, the Calder Cup East Division final series gets started Thursday in Wilkes-Barre. The series continues Saturday in Wilkes-Barre and Sunday in Hershey.
Game Four is May 12 in Hershey. If the series extends beyond four games, the remaining schedule is: May 12 in Wilkes-Barre, May 14 in Hershey and May 16 in Wilkes-Barre.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
TRUEX Makes It Three In A Row, Talladega, AL – Martin Truex, Jr. showed why he is the 2005 Busch champ by holding off a pack of challengers with three laps to go to capture his third consecutive Busch Series Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. The two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion – whose No. 8 Chevrolet carried the familiar black paint scheme of Dale Earnhardt on Dale Earnhardt Day – recorded his 13th career victory while becoming the only series driver to win in his first three starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
Martin Truex, Jr. celebrates his Saturday Busch win at Talladega.
Driving a car owned by Dale Earnhardt Inc., Truex celebrated what would have been The Intimidator's 55th birthday by giving the company yet another restrictor-plate victory. Earnhardt, who won 10 races at Talladega, was killed in a 2001 accident at Daytona.
“This is up there at the top of my wins,” Truex said. “It's just a special day. Everybody at DEI, we kind of had this weekend penciled in on our calendars.”
The entire Talladega weekend was a tribute to Earnhardt, who was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on Thursday night. DEI commemorated his birthday with a celebration at their shop in Mooresville, NC, and all of the company cars are sporting a black paint scheme that resembles Earnhardt's old No. 3 Chevrolet.
“It's just an honor to be associated with this whole thing,” Truex said. “To be part of the company he started, and able to carry it on to more wins. All this stuff for me is like a bonus.
“He was my favorite driver before I ever raced a car.”
Top-10 Busch Series drivers: 1. Harvick-1639, 2. Bowyer-1340, 3. Edwards-1267, 4. Hamlin-1247, 5. Yeley-1224, 6. Menard-1212, 7. Kyle Busch-1202, 8. Biffle-1154, 9. Wood-1143, 10. Sauter-1111.
BODINE Gets Gateway Truck Win – Todd Bodine drove his Toyota Tundra to its second victory of the season and fifth in the last eight races to capture Saturday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway.
Bodine, who led three times for 66 laps, dropped from the lead to mid-pack, two-thirds of the way into the 200-mile, 160-lap race, following a pit stop for fuel and four tires. The strategy proved to be a winning one as Bodine roared back to the front with Germain Racing teammate Ted Musgrave right behind him.
He caught leader David Reutimann on lap 147, and then held off Musgrave’s charge in a three-lap shootout. Bodine edged Musgrave by 0.433 seconds, or about two truck lengths.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series drivers: 1. Bodine-852, 2. Musgrave-840, 3. Reutimann-764, 4. M. Martin-720, 5. Sprague-704, 6. Starr-698, 7. Bliss-682, 8. Benson-661, 9. Hamilton Jr.-639, 10. Cook-638.
The 2006 NEXTEL CUP Rookie Contenders – There are seven drivers contending for Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the Nextel Cup Series. Prior to this weekend’s race at Talladega, Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 7 Jack Daniels, Richard Childress Chevrolet was the leader with 85 points.
Bowyer’s home town is Emporia, Kansas, and he earned two wins in the Busch Series while driving the RCR AC Delco No. 2.
He made his cup debut April 23, 2005 at Phoenix. Bowyer has earned two Rookie of the Race awards in 2006, with an average finish of 17.1.
Denny Hamlin, driver of Joe Gibbs’ No. 11 is second with 77 points. He hails from Chesterfield, Virginia. His average finish in 2006 is 21.5.
Martin Truex, Jr., the 2005 Busch Series champion was tabbed as the top rookie in the preseason poll. Despite six Busch wins in 2005, Truex has yet to win a Cup race, and is third in rookie points with 74.
J. J. Yeley of Phoenix, Arizona is in his first full season of NASCAR competition. He finished 11th last season in the No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Busch Series Chevrolet of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Yeley is fourth with 70 rookie of the year points.
Reed Sorenson of Peachtree City, Georgia burst on to the Busch spotlight last season by winning his first race in only his 11th start.
Sorenson was selected by Chip Ganassi Racing in July to drive the No. 41 Target Dodge. He has 66 points, and is fifth.
David Stremme, former Busch Series driver, who is now behind the wheel of the No. 40 Chip Ganassi Dodge, is sixth with 55 points.
“I was never pushed into racing,” said Stremme. “I worked on the cars for my mom and dad and then started competing locally against them. I ran more against my mom than my dad. The first year she beat me a lot, but the second year, I beat her.”
Stremme is from South Bend, Indiana.
Brent Sherman, driver of the No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge is seventh with 38 points. The St. Paul, Minnesota driver was an Air Force Surveillance Technician, who enforced no-fly zones around the globe while in the U.S. Air Force.
AARON’S 499 Postponed Until Monday, Talladega, AL – Sunday’s Nextel Cup Aaron's 499 was postponed due to heavy rain in Talladega. The race was rescheduled for noon EST on Monday.
The Busch and Nextel Cup series have Friday and Saturday night races at Richmond, while the Craftsman Trucks have an off week.
Friday, May 5, Busch Series Circuit City 250, race 11 of 35, 250 laps, 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Saturday, May 6, Nextel Cup Crown Royal 400, race 10 of 36, 400 laps, 7 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Racing Trivia Question: What are the names of the two brothers from Las Vegas that run in the Nextel Cup Series?
Last Week’s Question: Who will take over the NASCAR TV schedule in 2007? Answer. It will be ABC and ESPN.
You may read additional stories at the Racing Reporter’s website, www.race500.com.
The Montrose Boys Tennis team has several returning varsity players from last season including senior Captain Mike Whitney and senior Co-Captains Dave Kimble and Joe Quanne. Juniors Patrick Bayer and Andrew Bookin return at number 1 and 2 singles respectively. Lance Elliott and Jon Lodge complete the varsity team.
The team began the season with losses to perennial power Abington Heights on April 6 followed by a non-league match against Western Wayne on April 10. Bayer and Quanne posted victories against Western Wayne at number 1 and 3 singles respectively.
Upcoming matches include Riverside and Bishop Hannan followed by a home match against Scranton on April 20.
The Montrose Meteors posted victories at Number 1 singles by Patrick Bayer and Number 3 singles by Joe Quanne against Riverside on April13. Bayer and Quanne both won their matches in straight sets before the tennis match was suspended due to heavy thunderstorms. Bayer and Quanne won in straight sets. When the match was suspended Andrew Bookin was in the second set tied at 5 games after losing the first set. The number 1 doubles team of Mike Whitney and Matt Bulger had split sets while the number 2 doubles team of Jon Lodge and Dave Kimble had just gotten underway.
The match will resume at date to be determined. Montrose faces Scranton at home on April 20.
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