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Scranton - Robert O'Malley knew he had a good shot at second place and a berth in the state track meet.
The Montrose senior, however, wanted more.
O'Malley avenged a loss to Scranton Prep's Joe Ruzbarsky just a week earlier and captured the shot put title during the District 2 Class AA Track and Field Championships May 16 at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
"I was thinking about going to states, but I was not thinking a whole lot about who was (seeded) behind me," O'Malley said. "I wanted to beat Joe."
O'Malley did and, in the process, clinched his first trip to the state meet.
O'Malley went ahead on his second attempt when he let loose his winning heave of 50-5 1/2.
Ruzbarsky could not go farther than 48-6 1/4 in six attempts.
"I knew I've had some throws that were big like that, but being big I have trouble staying in the circle sometimes," O'Malley said.
O'Malley stayed in and topped his seeding distance by seven inches. Just in case, he sought more.
"The second throw was the big one and I knew that had the potential to win it," he said. "But Joe had a big one at the league meet, so I was still trying for more."
It turned out that O'Malley did not need any more distance. He joined Susquehanna's Amber Gaffey, a two-time state medalist and defending state champion in the pole vault, as the district champions from Susquehanna County.
Montrose's Steffany Jahnke and Tom Blachek and the Elk Lake 3200-meter girls' relay team also qualified for the state meet by finishing second.
The only one who can match Gaffey among local pole vaulters is herself. The Susquehanna junior matched her district record of 11 feet on a day that had the potential to be dangerous for pole vaulters.
A downpour early in the pole vault competition delayed the event and had Gaffey thinking about just getting through to the state meet rather than chasing records.
"I knew it was going to rain and I was kind of worried about that," she said. "I was just going to go from 9-6 or 10, whatever I needed to qualify for states, and then stop.
"If it got dangerous that's what I would have done."
Gaffey had no trouble with her footing after the rain delay.
Only two pole vaulters made it past 8 feet. When Desiree Finley of Hanover Area went out at 10 feet, Gaffey decided to keep going. She made it over 10-6 and 11-0 before missing at 11-4 in three attempts at breaking her own record.
"You're always looking to go higher, but with the conditions it was tough," she said. "I'm just happy I made states. Hopefully, I'll go higher there."
Only seven girls and five boys managed to clear any height during the district meet.
Ellen Squier and Kimberly Caines held Elk Lake in third place during the first two legs of the 3200 relay. Bridgette Teed and Rachel Owens then ran their legs in under 2:30.
Owens sprinted past Lake-Lehman's anchor runner on the final straightaway to move into second place and a state berth with a time of 9:58.87.
Jahnke's 15-11 3/4 in the long jump was good for second place and led three Montrose jumpers in the top nine in the event.
Mariah Castrogiavanni and Emily Way finished eighth and ninth, just behind Elk Lake's Emily Madrak.
Blachek's throw of 153-10 in the javelin gave him second place by inches over Lakeland's Stephen Bennett.
Montrose had the best team finish in both meets among county teams.
The Meteors were tied for 12th with 22 points. Lakeland won the boys' meet over Scranton Prep, 89 1/2-82. Blue Ridge was 17th with 14 points, Elk Lake was 21st with five points, Mountain View was 22nd with one point and Susquehanna did not score.
The Lady Meteors were seventh with 35 points. Dallas outscored rival Lake-Lehman, 117-86 1/2 for the girls' championship. Elk Lake was eighth with 32 points, Blue Ridge was 14th with 17, Susquehanna was 17th with 10 and Mountain View did not score.
Montrose had three athletes finish third.
Elya Sporer was third and teammate Khayla Shearer was tied for fifth behind Gaffey in the pole vault.
Tara Chiarella was third in the 1600 and added an eighth-place finish in the 800.
Carrie Fischer was tied for third in the high jump.
The only other third-place finish was by Blue Ridge's Aaron Onyon in the shot put. Onyon also took fourth place in the discus where he went in as the event's top seed.
It was a tough day for some of the county's top athletes.
Elk Lake's Jessica Sekely earned two medals with sixth-place finishes in the javelin and discus, but went in as the top seed in the javelin and second seed in the discus.
Montrose's Nick Staats went into the pole vault as the top seed and clear favorite, but did not clear any height while attempting to jump with a hamstring injury.
Blue Ridge's Lauren Findlay took fourth in the 400, two spots ahead of Elk Lake's Randi Jo Brown.
The Blue Ridge team of Laurie Hall, Katrina Rinehimer, Maegan Lewis and Beth Stone took fifth in the 3200 relay. Lewis completed a hectic day by finishing fifth in the 3200 and sixth in the 1600.
Montrose's Sarah Golis was fifth and Blue Ridge's Beth Stone was eighth, joining Sekely to give the county three placewinners in the javelin.
Lisa Rupert of Elk Lake was fifth in the 300 hurdles.
Elk Lake's Caines added to her relay success with a fifth-place finish in the 800. Owens came in seventh in the 3200.
Ryne Carney of Elk Lake (3200) and Tim Decker of Blue Ridge (800) took sixth, as did the Elk Lake 1600-meter boys' relay team.
Montrose's Bud Roszel was seventh in the 100 while O'Malley added a seventh-place finish in the discus to his shot put title.
Elk Lake's Brent Salsman and Mountain View's Corey Salinas finished seventh and eighth in the 1600.
The top six finishers in each event received medals while the top eight picked up points for their teams.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mountain View defeated Forest City for the third time this season Saturday night in a playoff to determine the Lackawanna League volleyball title.
The two teams shared the title a year ago when the league did not conduct a playoff to break the tie. This time, they finished tied for first again and a playoff was held.
Mountain View won, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 26-24, behind 12 kills from Joe Scanlon and 11 from Corey Butler.
"Joe and Corey are both setter/hitters," coach Jan Price said. "They worked well together. They communicated well."
Nick Stoud also played a big role in helping the team claim the second seed and a first-round, home-court advantage for the District 2 tournament, which was scheduled to begin Monday.
Mountain View suffered losses to Lackawanna Trail and Blue Ridge during the regular season, but won both meetings from Forest City, which swept its other six league opponents. The Eagles forced a playoff for first when they defeated Western Wayne, 25-10, 25-16, 25-17, in the regular-season finale.
"Nick had some tremendous digs each time we played Forest City," Price said. "He's excellent in the back row."
Adam Walker also plays in the back row.
Price credited John Geyer and John Corbin for leading the team's blocking efforts. T.J. Rusek provides depth there.
Kyle Davidson is the team's top server.
Josh Jarnagin and Adam Oakley, another effective server, provide depth.
In high school softball, Blue Ridge rolled over Forest City, 15-0, and St. Rose, 10-0, to finish as unbeaten Lackawanna League Division IV champions.
In boys' tennis, the Montrose team of Pat Bayer and Andrew Bookin was the only one of four county teams to win a match in the District 2 Class AA doubles tournament.
After receiving a first-round bye, Bayer-Bookin defeated Chris Conte-Mike Van Voorbis of Valley View, 6-1, 6-4. The Montrose team, which was seeded seventh, was then upset in the third round, 7-5, 6-3, by Steve Russo-Shane Conway of Hanover Area.
Montrose eighth-grader Julia Koloski set two meet records and won a third event during the District 2 Junior High Track Championships May 13 at Hanover Area.
Koloski set records in the 100 meters and the long jump. She ran the 100 in 12.3 seconds to top the record of 12.7 set by Sacara Tinsley of Wilkes-Barre Meyers in 1989. Her long jump of 16-11 3/4 was 11 inches better than the record set by Cecerli Ash of Honesdale in 1998.
Koloski won the high jump by clearing 4-11.
Blue Ridge's Victoria Hartt was the only other gold medal winner from Susquehanna County.
Hartt won the 3200 meters in 12:17.1.
Koloski helped Montrose finish tied for fourth in the team race with 36 1/2 points. Wayne Highlands won with 105 points, followed by Crestwood with 84 1/2, Bishop Hoban with 40 and Montrose and Wyoming Area tied with 36 1/2.
Amelia DiPhillips was tied for fourth with a 4-7 high jump while Renee Oleniacz was seventh in the 100 hurdles in 18.2 seconds and the Montrose 400 relay team took seventh with a time of 54.6.
In addition to Hartt, Blue Ridge had three other girls place in the meet.
Alison Hall was third in the 1600 in 5:36.4. Meghan Ragard was seventh in both the 400 (1:05.1) and the triple jump (31-5 1/4). Kaitchen Dearborn was eighth in the long jump with 14-6 1/2.
Elk Lake's Catie Gold finished seventh in the 100 meters in 13.0 seconds.
Blue Ridge's Greg Garnett was the top county performer in the boys' meet.
Garnett finished second in the discus with a throw of 134-11. Teammate Eric Onyon was eighth with 125-6.
Susquehanna's Connor Freitag was eighth in the triple jump with 35-8.
Amber Lattner saw something special in every college she visited.
In the end, one stood out as extra special.
"I really loved Notre Dame," the Montrose senior said. "Academically, athletically, spiritually, I loved everything about it."
Lattner announced her decision to continue her soccer career as a recruited walk-on for one of the nation's top programs during a gathering Wednesday night at the school.
Notre Dame won the 1995 and 2004 national championships, making it the only school other than North Carolina to win multiple NCAA Division I titles.
Lattner, Montrose's valedictorian, applied to Georgetown, Harvard, Penn State, Purdue, Notre Dame, West Point, the Naval Academy and Boston College.
Her final decision came down to Notre Dame and Navy.
With the decision behind her, Lattner will spend her summer trying to recover from a knee injury that makes it questionable whether she will be ready for the first day of practice.
"I'm rehabbing and training," Lattner said. "I don't need surgery, but I'm not playing any soccer right now."
Lattner led Montrose to the District 2 championship as a junior. She had 29 goals and 10 assists in 16 games as a senior when the Lady Meteors lost in a shootout to determine the Lackawanna League North Division champion.
Notre Dame graduated eight seniors. Lattner is one of 10 freshmen in the incoming class of soccer recruits.
All Notre Dame first-year students go in undeclared, but Lattner said she expects to wind up majoring in either business or psychology.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The state track meet is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
Local competitors will be among the first in the state to be in action.
The Class AA girls' pole vault and long jump titles and the Class AA boys' javelin title will all be among the first seven awarded. The competitions start at 9 Friday morning.
Elk Lake's 3200 relay team will also run its first race at 9 a.m. If the team advances from the first track heats of championship weekend, it will compete in the final Saturday morning at 9.
In high school baseball and softball, the District 2 tournaments were tentatively scheduled to begin Monday and will continue throughout the week.
Class AA baseball opens its 14-team tournament Wednesday with 12th-seeded Dunmore at fifth-seeded Elk Lake and 13th-seeded Wilkes-Barre GAR at fourth-seeded Mountain View. If both teams win, they will meet in Friday's quarterfinals at Elk Lake.
Susquehanna was scheduled to play at Bishop Hannan and Forest City was scheduled to play at Pittston Seton Catholic Monday when the 11-team Class A baseball tournament opened.
Blue Ridge will host Bishop O'Reilly in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
With a Monday win, Susquehanna would advance to play at top-seeded Old Forge. A Forest City win would send the team to second-seeded Bishop Hafey.
Montrose chose not to defend its Class AA title.
Blue Ridge is the top seed in Class A softball. It has a bye into the quarterfinals of the 11-team tournament.
The Lady Raiders will be home Thursday to face the winner of Tuesday's first-round game that sent Susquehanna to Bishop O'Reilly.
Forest City was scheduled to open at home against Seton Catholic Tuesday for a chance to play at second-seeded Northwest.
The 16-team Class A softball tournament was set to open Monday. If Montrose managed an upset at top-seeded Carbondale, the Lady Meteors would face the Riverside-Mid Valley winner Wednesday.
Elk Lake was home against Wilkes-Barre GAR Monday, trying to advance into a quarterfinal game against the Dunmore-Dallas winner.
Mountain View was at unbeaten second-seeded Lakeland Monday, trying to reach Wednesday's quarterfinals against the Hanover Area-Meyers winner.
In professional baseball, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons continue their series with the Indianapolis Indians with games Wednesday morning, Thursday night and Friday night.
Montrose graduate Rich Thompson, who was batting over .300 overall for the season going into Sunday, is an outfielder for the Indians.
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
Million Dollar Jimmie Up To The Challenge, Concord, NC – Despite several problems during Saturday night’s Nextel All-Star Challenge, Jimmie Johnson prevailed at the finish line for the second year.
Johnson overcame a pit road speeding penalty, avoided several accidents, and came out on the losing end of the inversion, which reversed the field after the first segment. Only the top-10 were inverted, and Johnson was 11th.
“I had some adversity I had to overcome,” said Johnson. “But as soon as I realized that I was still on the lead lap after the speeding penalty, then I knew I still had a chance.”
Jimmie Johnson holds the big check for winning Saturday's All-Star Challenge at Lowe's.
Johnson crossed the finish line 1.729 seconds ahead of runner up Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon after Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth banged together just two laps into the final 20-lap segment. Stewart and Kenseth were eliminated as were a host of other favorites in this non-points race that padded the winner's pocketbook with one million bucks.
“Our main goal was to finish,” said Kevin Harvick. “We were able to avoid the wrecks, but the 48 had us covered. I thought even after everybody wrecked we were still only the second-best car out there.”
Trailing the three front-running Chevrolets were Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Johnson’s record at Lowe’s Motor Speedway now stands at seven, including three straight Coca-Cola 600s and the 2003 All-Star race.
Stewart, who had got caught up in an earlier wreck, appeared to ram Kenseth’s No. 17 Roush Ford, sending both of them into the wall.
“He put me into the wall, head-on,” said Kenseth. “Then he flipped me the bird.”
Stewart didn’t see it the same way.
“I think he screwed up on this one,” said Stewart. “If he thinks I did that and it’s my fault, he’s screwed up in the head.”
There were just nine cars that completed the final 17 laps.
Scott Riggs raced his way into the All-Star Challenge by winning the 30-lap Nextel Open earlier in the night.
Kyle Petty was voted into the 20th and final spot of the All-Star Challenge by fans. Nextel allowed fans to vote in their favorite driver.
Regular points racing continues May 26-27 at Lowe’s with the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the season.
Top-10 Nextel Cup Chase Contenders: 1. Johnson-1686, 2. Stewart-1593, 3. Kenseth-1592, 4. Martin-1487, 5. Earnhardt-1460, 6. J. Gordon-1391, 7. Kyle Busch-1388, 8. Kahne-1379, 9. Harvick-1365, 10. Burton-1295.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck leaders: 1. T. Bodine-1017, 2. Musgrave-1000, 3. Reutimann-896, 4. Martin-844, 5. Cook-808, 6. Benson-788, 7. Starr-783, 8. Setzer-776, 9. Sprague-765, 10. Crafton-760.
CURTIS TURNER’S Toughest Fight Was Charlotte – The Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte, now Lowe’s Motor Speedway is the longest and possibly most grueling event on the Nextel Cup circuit and it challenges the drivers more than most races. It is also a night race and true fans know that it’s all about track position, especially when you have to stay on it and stay competitive for 600 hard miles.
Darlington was the sport’s only superspeedway on NASCAR’s circuit until the 2.5-mile Daytona Int’l. Speedway opened in 1959. Fans streamed to the new track, and promoters all over the south began visioning superspeedways with great financial impact.
The popular driver/lumber baron/playboy, Curtis Turner was a board member on the Atlanta Speedway organization, when he became hooked on building a superspeedway in Charlotte.
That essentially was the start of the toughest years of the flamboyant racer’s life. He ran out of money before the track could be finished and had to join forces with Bruton Smith and other Charlotte businessmen.
The first race, The World 600, was finally run after construction delays in the summer of 1960, but the track broke up badly and more money was needed for repairs and resurfacing.
“Fireball” Roberts sat on the pole, J.L. Johnson was the winner.
The fall race didn’t draw as well as expected, and Turner and Smith were broke and busted. Stockholders called for the resignation of both men.
Turner approached the Teamsters Union in search of an $800,000 loan. He and fellow driver Tim Flock were successful in signing up many of NASCAR’s top drivers, until Bill France said no union drivers would ever race on a NASCAR-sanctioned track.
France’s strong anti-union stand broke the back of Turner’s unionizing efforts and, adding insult to injury, Turner and Flock were banned from NASCAR for life.
It wasn’t until 1966, that France relented and allowed Turner back into the NASCAR fold. He did capture a few more wins to bring his total to 17, but despite his good looks and uncanny ability to drive a race car, his NASCAR standout days were over.
Turner lost his final race with life on a foggy hillside in Pennsylvania in 1970, when his small private plane crashed into the ground, just moments after takeoff.
It’s a busy weekend for NASCAR teams. The Craftsman Trucks race on the half mile Mansfield, OH track, while the Busch and Cup teams are at Charlotte.
Saturday, May 27, Craftsman Trucks Mansfield 250, race 7 of 25, 250 laps, 2 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Busch Series Carquest Auto Parts 300, race 13 of 35, 200 laps. 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, May 28, Nextel Cup Coca-Cola 600, race 12 of 36, 400 laps, 5 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is this driver? He won the 1963 and ’65 World 600. He was also referred to as “Chicago Bum,” and “NASCAR’s Golden Boy.” Mail the correct answer to: The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36619, and we will send you a postcard size photo of him. You may e-mail your answer to: email@example.com. Letters must be postmarked by May 27, and e-mails must be received by May 29.
Last Week’s Question: When will NASCAR begin phasing in the Car of Tomorrow? Answer. In 2007.
You may read additional racing stories at www.race500.com.
The New York Giants’ rugged run blocker, Chris Snee, will come home to Montrose once more on July 3 to be Guest of Honor at the second Annual Punt Pass & Kick Contest for boys and girls age 7 through 14. The holiday event last year drew a crowd of over 300 to the Montrose High School football field where Chris led contestants through warm-ups, tossed footballs, signed autographs and posed for hundreds of photos.
Chris Snee with some of the entrants at last year’s Punt Pass & Kick Contest.
Chris is an alumnus of Montrose High and Boston College and was the Giants’ 2004 second round draft choice to be their starting right guard. He is widely regarded as a future Pro-Bowler and in his 2005 season was described by Giants Insider magazine as the team’s “most consistent offensive lineman.” With his teammates, he blew open huge holes in competitors’ right side to spring running back Tiki Barber for many runs over ten yards, leading the Giants to the 2005 NFC East Division Championship.
This year the Punt Pass & Kick event will include a silent auction and raffle which feature signed memorabilia from Snee and other Giants players, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Steelers and the Binghamton Senators. There will also be an opportunity for a lucky fan to win a 2006 Ford Ranger truck. There will be hotdogs, a bouncing booth, and every contestant will receive a t-shirt. Additional prizes include Chris Snee Thunder Stixx, a tabletop football game, game tickets, autographed jerseys, medallions, trophies, and opportunities to ride with Chris in the Montrose Fourth of July parade.
Contestants have time to practice, and get three chances to make their longest punt, pass and kick. They will be divided into age groups so that there are many opportunities to win.
Youngsters who wish to participate will pay an entry fee or sign up sponsors to contribute at to the United Way of Susquehanna County. Pick up a registration form at any Pennstar Bank, Peoples National Bank, at United Way location 36 Lake Avenue Montrose, or download a form from unitedwayofsusquehannacounty,org. Athletic Directors from all Susquehanna County school districts will also have registration forms.
This event will benefit the United Way of Susquehanna County, which serves thousands of county residents through 22 local charitable agencies. These agencies provide for emergency and health needs, strengthen families and individuals, and develop our youth. For more information call (570) 278–3868.
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