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Local Sports Scene

Blue Ridge's Donovan Is Athlete Of Monthy

Elk Lake Takes Second At Jordan Relays

With sophomore state cross country qualifiers Ellen Squier and Rachel Owens and freshman Kim Caines, Elk Lake approached the season with three-quarters of an impressive 3200 meter relay team.

Coach Will Squier experimented and found the ideal runner to serve as leadoff runner.

Senior Bridget Teed, the school-record holder at 400 meters, began working in the preseason to prepare for an 800-meter leg.

Teed joined the three promising youngsters Thursday night in easily winning the Class AA title in the Jordan Relays at Scranton Memorial Stadium.

The Lady Warriors made their first appearance in the event a successful one by finishing second in the Class AA point standings.

"Bridget had never competed in the half-mile or a leg of the 4 by 800," coach Squier said. "We needed one more girl. She trained for that all year to build up for that spot."

The Jordan Relays performance continued an impressive season for Elk Lake, which has clinched at least a share of the Lackawanna Track Conference Division III title and appears headed for a three-way tie with Blue Ridge and Carbondale. The teams went 1-1 against each other and have handled the rest of the division.

The cross country runners have helped Elk Lake control the distance events. Ellen Squier and Owens share duties in the 1600 and 3200, usually running in one each during a dual meet.

Caines runs the 800 and Teed remains a force in the 400.

Lisa Rupert leads the way in the hurdles and sprints. Randi Jo Brown is another top sprinter.

"I can put Lisa almost anywhere," coach Squier said. "She could run the two mile and win most of the time.

"She's a very good athlete."

Brenda Rupert, Lisa's older sister, adds depth in the 200, 400 and hurdles.

Although they were not part of the Jordan Relays, Elk Lake also has an impressive throwing combination.

Junior Jessica Sekely won the Wyalusing Invitational and has the best throw in the league this season in the javelin. She has won all but one event in the league in the shot put, discus, javelin combination.

Maureen Manning is often right behind Sekely in each of the throws.

"Those two girls have contributed a lot during the season," Squier said.


Three county athletes won titles at the Wilkes-Barre Invitational track meet Saturday at Lake-Lehman.

Robert O'Malley of Montrose won the shot put with a heave of 49-3 1/2.

Tara Chiarella, also of Montrose, won the 1600 with a time of 5:29.02.

Defending state champion Amber Gaffey of Susquehanna cleared a season-best, 11-6 to win the pole vault.

The Blue Ridge girls beat Carbondale, 77-69, to set up the potential three-way tie for the division championship. The Lady Raiders went into Monday's meet against Mountain View needing a win to make the share of the title official.

In softball, Blue Ridge's string of blowouts ended, but the Lady Raiders remained undefeated.

Blue Ridge topped Susquehanna, 7-0, and Old Forge, 7-4, in league play before pounding Crestwood, 16-1, in a non-league game.

In professional baseball, pitching phenom Cole Hamels continued his incredible work for the first-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

Hamels pitched a two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts to beat the Richmond Braves, 5-0, May 7. Then, after giving up his first run as a Red Baron, the 2002 first-round draft pick finished with 10 strikeouts in seven innings Sunday during a 2-1, 10-inning victory over the Syracuse SkyChiefs.

Hamels is 2-0 with an 0.39 earned run average and 36 strikeouts in 23 innings through his first three starts.

In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are on the verge of elimination after being handled by the Hershey Bears in each of the first three games of their Calder Cup East Division final series.

Hershey went into Tuesday night's game in position to sweep the best-of-seven series in four straight.

The Bears outshot the Penguins, 20-7, in the first 35:26 Thursday while taking a 4-0 lead on the way to a 5-4 victory in the series opener in Wilkes-Barre.

Hershey again had a 20-7 advantage, this time in the first 25:01, of Saturday's 5-0 romp.

When the series moved to Hershey Sunday, the Bears outshot the Penguins, 22-8, in the first 32:11 to take a 3-0 lead on the way to a 4-1 victory.


Dylan Maxey, a sophomore from Montrose, had two rounds in the 60s during Rider College's five-tournament spring golf schedule.

Maxey wrapped up his season by shooting 243 for 54 holes at Walt Disney World in Orlando to finish 27th out of 45 players in the Metro Athletic Athletic Conference Tournament. Rider was fourth out of nine teams.

A week earlier, Maxey had turned in his most consistent tournament effort by shooting 71-73-144 to finish sixth out of 75 players and help Rider finish second out of 15 teams at the Navy Invitational.

Prior to that, Maxey had his two best rounds as a college player.

Maxey bounced back from an opening-round 87 in bad weather to shoot a tournament-best 68 the next day while finishing 41st out of 75 players in the Princeton Invitational. Rider was fourth of 15 teams in the tournament.

Maxey was seventh out of 115 players at the Towson Invitational when he had seven birdies during a closing round of 3-under-par, 69 to finish at 1-under-par, 143. Rider was fifth out of 23 teams.


The postseason heats up for local track teams.

The Lackawanna League meet is scheduled for Thursday at Scranton Memorial Stadium.

The District 2 Class AA meet is then set for Tuesday, May 16 at the same site.

In high school tennis, the District 2 team tournament was scheduled for the beginning of this week. Singles play is set for Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre. The tournament then concludes Friday at the University of Scranton, with semifinals set for 1 p.m.

Doubles competition is set for May 15 and 17.

In professional hockey, if a Game Five of the series with the Hershey Bears is needed, it will be Friday at the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre. If the series makes it to a sixth game, it will be Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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The Racing Reporter

JUNIOR Gets First Cup Win In Ten Months, Richmond, VA – “Yeah! Alright! We got our win,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. after his win Saturday night at Richmond Int’l. Raceway. “It's great to be with this bunch of guys – we've been having a fun year and things just seem to be getting better. We've had some bad luck lately, but we knew the performance was going to be there.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. after winning the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond.

Earnhardt took advantage of Kevin Harvick’s mistake and drove to his first Nextel Cup victory since last July at Chicago.

The key moment for Earnhardt seemed to come on lap 289 of the 400-lap race. With Harvick leading, a caution came out and all the lead lap cars except Harvick pitted for fresh tires.

When racing resumed, Earnhardt began hounding Harvick for nearly 20 laps, running side-by-side for the lead until he backed off to avoid crashing into Harvick.

The momentary hesitation dropped Earnhardt’s No. 8 Chevrolet back to fourth place on lap 325, and allowed rookie Denny Hamlin of nearby Chesterfield, VA to move into second, while Kyle Busch took third.

After cooling off his tires, Earnhardt picked off the other cars that were ahead of him, one by one, until he gained the lead for good on lap 356.

Hamlin, driving with a heavily bandaged right hand which had 19 stitches in it from “horseplay” with members of his team earlier in the week finished second.

“This is by far the biggest race of my career,” said Hamlin. “It’s awesome. I can’t tell you how great I feel.”

Third-place driver Kevin Harvick, who had won Friday night’s Busch race, dominated the race and led 272 laps, but was disappointed with his finish and would not talk with the news media after the race.

Asked why he didn't pit when everybody else did with about 112 laps remaining, he said, “We were short on fuel and hoping for another caution.”

Asked if his car went away late, he said, “Just got tight.”

Then he left.

Rounding out the top-10 were: 4. Greg Biffle, 5. Kyle Busch, 6. Tony Stewart, 7. Carl Edwards, 8. Ryan Newman, 9. Sterling Marlin, 10. Clint Bowyer.

Jeff Gordon, the four-time champion, had engine problems and wound up 40th.

Matt Kenseth, the points leader going into Richmond had mechanical problems and wound up 38th, forty-nine laps behind the leaders.

Jimmie Johnson regained the points lead from Kenseth, but never got the handling right on his No. 48 and finished 12th.

Top-10 Nextel Cup leaders: 1. Jimmie Johnson,-1521, 2. Tony Stewart-1466, 3. Matt Kenseth-1422, 4. Mark Martin-1345, 5. Kevin Harvick-1313, 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.-1305, 7. Kasey Kahne-1274, 8. Kyle Busch-1237, 9. Jeff Gordon-1216 10. Casey Mears-1168.

BIFFLE Needs To Buy Some Good Luck – If it weren’t for bad luck, Greg Biffle wouldn’t be having any luck at all.

During last Saturday night’s race at Richmond, Biffle pitted under green for gas. While in the pit area, a caution came out, causing him to lose a lap. Later in the race, he had a tire go down. But despite the adversity, Biffle regarded his third-place finish as a victory.

“I won! I finally won! It feels like a win,” he said. “I could be out there getting the trophy. Congratulations to Dale, Jr. That’s awesome. We had a great race car and just, unfortunately, stopped when we felt like it was safe and a lot of guys stayed out a lot longer than we thought and caught us a lap down. We just fought and fought to get back. I’m just pretty excited to finish in the top five.”

Despite his team’s seemingly endless downward spiral, he remains upbeat.

“I really don't need any encouragement,” said Biffle. “I'm ready to go, ready to win races. I'm going to go to Darlington. I'm going to win. I feel like we can. Whatever happened last week is last week."

The driver of the No. 16 National Guard Ford came up 36 points short of winning last year’s Nextel Cup championship and many observers thought his Roush Racing team would be in the thick of the hunt this year.

Not so. At least not after 10 races.

Going into Richmond, Biffle had finished 31st or worse in three of his past four races, and in the other one at Phoenix he finished 15th after running out of gas late in a race in which he led more than anyone else.

At this same period in 2005, he was fourth in points, with two wins.

After Richmond, he is 20th in points, but Biffle said Wednesday he still thinks his team is as good as it was last year when he finished second in the Nextel Cup standings.

Despite his poor finishes, team owner Jack Roush should not be understated either. Roush has given Biffle’s team the necessary resources to make the organization one of the top teams in the sport.

“We try to give all our teams the best technology, equipment and know-how that we can,” said Roush. “And I know the 16 car has the ability to win. It’s just a matter of time until things turn around on the race track for them.”

Biffle had a total of six wins last year, including the season-ending race at Homestead.

“It's really easy for me to keep a positive attitude, because I've been through so much,” continued Biffle. “People think that I'm struggling now dealing with the troubles we're having, and I'm not. I'm up here 100 percent ready to go buckling in that car, pull the belts down and give my job 110 per cent, and whatever happen, happens.”

Despite his optimism, a turnaround must occur soon. With only 16 races left before the start of the Chase For the Championship, the road is going to get rougher during each race.

Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Harvick-1799, 2. Bowyer-1486, 3. Edwards-1417, 4. Hamlin-1381, 5. Menard-1359, 6. Kyle Busch-1340, 7. Biffle-1314, 8. J.J. Yeley-1294, 9. J. Sauter-1241, 10. Wood-1192.


No racing this Sunday. It is Mother’s Day, but the Busch and Cup teams will have night races on Friday and Saturday at Darlington.

Friday, May 12, Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200, race 12 of 35, 147 laps, 7:30. TV: FX Channel.

Saturday, May 13, Dodge Charger 500, race 11 of 36, 367 laps, 6:30 p.m. TV: Fox.

Racing Trivia Question: Who are Tony Stewart’s teammates at Joe Gibbs’ Racing this year?

Last Week’s Question: What are the names of the two brothers from Las Vegas that run in the Nextel Cup Series? Answer. Kurt and Kyle Busch.

You may read additional stories at the Racing Reporter’s website,

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Blue Ridge's Donovan Is Athlete Of Month
By Tom Robinson

Kate Donovan's abilities on the softball field were apparent when she found her way into the starting lineup on a Blue Ridge state championship team as a freshman.

As players have graduated and moved on, Donovan's role for the Lady Raiders has gained in prominence in each of the past two seasons.

Donovan now finds herself in a position of leadership, but one thing has not changed during her junior season. The Blue Ridge softball team is still at the top of the Lackawanna League.

For leading the way on the only county high school team to make it through April with a perfect record, Donovan is the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.

"The other day when we were playing Old Forge in a big game, I was nervous all day long," Donovan said. "When I was a freshman and sophomore, I didn't think about it as much.

"I have to be a role model for the younger players."

Donovan said coach Bob Pavelski pointed out that need to the veteran players before the season started. She takes great pride in the fact that the program still thrives with some of the leaders of the run to two state finals now playing in college.

"It shows what we have a as a team," she said.

Donovan began her high school career as a right fielder. This season, she moved in to the game's two most demanding positions – catcher and shortstop. Donovan also moved up to third in the batting order.

"She's been great behind the plate," Pavelski said. "And, when I move her out to shortstop, she does a good job there."

Donovan filled in at catcher a few times as a freshman and worked on the position during the summer. Shortstop comes more naturally.

"When I was younger, I always played shortstop," she said. "I would have continued to play shortstop, but when I got to high school, I was on a team with so much experience."

Pavelski understandably found a spot for Donovan's bat in the lineup until she was needed for more important work defensively.

Donovan has helped Blue Ridge to an 11-0 league record by hitting .444, scoring 21 runs and driving in 15. She has four doubles, three triples, a home run and four sacrifices, including three successful squeeze bunts.

Kate is the daughter of T.J. and Lisa Donovan of Hallstead. She is also a two-year starter in basketball and played on the school golf team for the first time last fall.

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