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District 2 officials are discussing some minor changes in the format for the Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament that will be February 1 and 2.
During its December meeting, the district produced a tentative schedule that will move the semifinal round up to the first night of the event.
In the past, one round was conducted on Friday, then the surviving teams faced semifinal and final rounds on Saturday.
For the true championship contenders, the Friday quarterfinal was often one relatively easy match, followed by back-to-back battles on Saturday.
Barring complaints from member schools, the proposed format will be put in place at this week's district meeting.
The Class AA quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Lake-Lehman February 1 while the Class AAA quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Pittston Area.
The finals in each would then be at Pittston Area February 2.
Elk Lake and Susquehanna appear to have a strong shot at qualifying for the Class AA tournament. Blue Ridge also remains in contention while Mountain View and Montrose are already on the brink of official elimination.
The Class AA tournament became even more difficult this season because Berwick has moved down from Class AAA where it was a contender in both the dual team and tournament championships for several years.
Berwick is one of three Wyoming Valley Conference teams – AAA members Crestwood and Wyoming Valley West are the others – with unbeaten league records.
Scranton Prep and Lackawanna Trail, which occupy the bottom two spots in the Lackawanna League Division 1 standings, are Class AA teams along with all eight Division 2 members. Western Wayne is a likely tournament qualifier while Valley View and Bishop O'Hara would each need a strong finish to qualify.
Lake-Lehman, a Division 1 team, is a Class AA school along with WVC Division 2 members Wyoming Area, Wilkes-Barre GAR, Hanover Area, Nanticoke, Dallas and Wilkes-Barre Meyers.
The open format continues in basketball.
Every school that wants to compete will be allowed.
The Forest City girls are currently in position to pursue a top seed.
The Lady Foresters have the best record among the nine Class A schools in the district. Division champions are seeded ahead of all other teams, regardless of record, and both Bishop O'Reilly and Pittston Seton Catholic are contenders in their Wyoming Valley Conference division. Forest City is tied for second in the Lackawanna League Division III first-half standings.
All the other Susquehanna County schools are Class AA in girls' basketball.
Montrose entered the week in fifth out of 18 teams. Blue Ridge, Susquehanna and Elk Lake were all just below the middle of the pack, followed by Mountain View.
The Mountain View boys are contending for a top seed in Class AA. Of the 18 teams in the class, five took perfect records into the weekend. Mountain View and Lackawanna Trail, Lackawanna Division III rivals, were both among the unbeatens.
Montrose and Elk Lake are positioned just below the middle of the pack while Blue Ridge is in danger of being one of the four teams that needs a preliminary game just to reach the round of 16.
Forest City appears to be in position to fight for a seed in the top half of the 11-team Class A field while Susquehanna is almost certain to be one of the teams playing in the first round to try to reach the quarterfinals.
St. Michael's has joined the PIAA and will compete in Class A.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mountain View and Lackawanna Trail matched boys' basketball wins to remain tied for the Lackawanna League Division III lead heading into their meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday night. The teams are both unbeaten heading into the final game which will decide the first-half title.
The Eagles got career-highs from a pair of players while winning twice.
Joe Scanlon scored a career-high 16 points to support Robbie Johnson's 25-point effort in an 87-50 romp over Susquehanna.
Pat Lambert had his career-high, also 16 points, Friday when Mountain View pulled away for a 67-53 victory over Forest City.
Lackawanna Trail stayed even when it held off Montrose, 55-52, Friday. The Meteors trailed, 32-23, at the half and, 45-37, after three quarters before mounting a late rally.
Dean Moore and Andy Burgh each had 14 points for Montrose in the loss.
In girls' basketball, Forest City and Montrose kept alive hopes of sharing the first-half Lackawanna League Division III title.
Forest City was scheduled to face unbeaten Carbondale Monday with a chance to force a three-way tie and a playoff for the first half.
Montrose had its best defensive effort of the season while winning its only game of the week, 47-14, over Lackawanna Trail.
The Lady Meteors, who got five steals from Christine Brown and four blocked shots from Jessica Franklin, opened a 22-5 halftime lead. Brittany Ely had five assists.
In wrestling, Elk Lake and Susquehanna remained undefeated in Division 2.
Rich Harvey (152), Derek Noldy (160) and Jacob Eastman (171) started out the match with pins to send Elk Lake on its way to a 56-21 victory over Blue Ridge.
Elk Lake then defeated Mountain View, 61-12, as John Brooks (135), Anthony Juser (145) and Harvey (152) all had pins in the first minute.
Josh Jenkins (189), Michael Arniel (103) and Matthew Gumaer (125) had pins for Susquehanna in a 42-33 victory over Montrose.
The Sabers then handled Bishop O'Hara, 48-15, as Stephen Andujar (135), Cameron Arthur (171), Tim Gall (189) and Jenkins (275) had first-period pins.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Binghamton Senators each had impressive shutout performances Friday night but otherwise the teams are headed in opposite directions.
The Penguins posted their second win over Chicago, the league's highest-scoring team, this time handing the Wolves their first shutout loss of the season, 1-0, behind 29 saves by Jeff Deslauriers.
The Senators used 39 saves by Kelly Guard to make it through overtime in a scoreless tie before losing in a shootout to the Hershey Bears, the defending Calder Cup champion and the overall American Hockey League standings leader going into the weekend.
The Penguins fell in overtime at Grand Rapids Saturday night, but came out of the night with the best winning percentage in the league. It was the second straight season that the Penguins had the best percentage at the midway point, therefore earning their coaching staff the right to handle a team in the all-star game. Todd Richards and assistant Dan Bylsma will guide PlanetUSA against Canada in the AHL All-Star Classic January 29 in Toronto.
While the Penguins were earning an honor for their coach, the Senators were laying down in an 8-1 loss to the Providence Bruins for the worst defeat in the five years since AHL hockey returned to Binghamton. The last 10 minutes of the game were spent with fans calling for coach Dave Cameron's ouster, unveiling a huge banner to a roar from the Broome County Arena crowd then repeatedly chanting "Fire Cameron" during the many lulls in the action.
Justin Herbert, a sophomore from Blue Ridge, is 10-5 at 165 pounds for the Franklin & Marshall wrestling team.
Franklin & Marshall, which competes on the Division I level, had a 2-3 record in dual meets heading into last weekend. The Diplomats beat New York University and Wagner before falling to Bucknell, Army and Rutgers.
Herbert finished fourth at the Wilkes Open December 28. He lost, 6-1, to Pitt-Johnstown's Albert Miles, then responded with three close wins – all decisions by three points or less – before falling to Penn's Andrew Coles, 2-1, in the consolation final.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins continue to battle for the top spot in the American Hockey League East Division when they play three times in less than 48 hours against two of the other top teams in the East Division.
The Penguins are at Norfolk Friday night before completing a home-and-home with the Admirals Saturday. The Penguins then travel to play at Hershey Sunday afternoon.
East Division rivals Hershey, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Norfolk are the only AHL teams with winning percentages above .700.
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
DALE’S BOY Is Growing Up, Daytona Beach, FL – I predict that in 2007, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will finally reach maturity.
Not only as a driver, but as a person.
Dale, Jr. in 2006 at Indy.
Statements between Dale Jr. and his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt are beginning to sound like a Hollywood soap drama.
But it wasn’t Dale Jr. that threw the first punch.
In the December 14 issue of the Wall Street Journal, Teresa, who was left owning Dale Earnhardt Inc. after her husband, Dale Sr. was killed in a 2001 Daytona crash, said, “Dale Jr. has to decide whether he wants to be a race car driver or a public personality.”
Dale Jr. refused to respond to the remarks until last week during preseason testing at Daytona.
“I tried and tried not to comment on it,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I was trying not to get involved in it.
“I really didn't appreciate it. I don't know, she might have just been having a bad day or something when she said that. I really don't know where that was coming from. I haven't talked to Teresa about what she said in the paper. I figured if anything needed to be said, she'd call me up and say it.”
Apparently her statements were in response to Earnhardt Jr.’s. growing popularity and his planned business ventures (JR Motorsports), which include his brother Kerry and sister, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge.
There has long been a belief among NASCAR reporters that the relationship between the pair has been only lukewarm. Earnhardt Jr. helped verify those beliefs during the Daytona news conference.
“Mine and Teresa's relationship has always been very black and white, very strict and in your face,” he continued. “It is what it is…it ain't a bed of roses…I don't know how to explain it honestly.
“The relationship that we have today is the same relationship we had when I was six years old when I moved into that house with Dad and her. It has always been the same. It hasn’t gotten worse over the last couple years or last couple months. It's always been the same, the way I felt about her then is the way I feel about her now.”
Which leads me to believe that growing up as a boy wasn’t a bed of roses for Dale Jr.
In our past conversations, I always had the impression that he worshipped his dad, and that Dale Sr. was his hero.
But if his dad wasn’t home very much, how was he treated?
Maybe as a red-headed stepchild.
I believe his dad wanted him to learn all aspects of racing, because he never had the best equipment when he started off in late models. I remember during one race at Nashville Fairgrounds a left front tire blew on the front of his No. 31.
One of the volunteer crew members said, they didn’t have enough money to buy another set of new tires.
In 1999, while he was going for his second Busch Series title, and driving for his dad, Dale Jr. said he was only making $200 a week and living in a double-wide trailer.
So, as a boy, Dale Jr. paid his dues.
Now, the boy is a man, and he is beginning to act like it.
His contract with DEI is up after the 2007 season, and until the sport’s most popular driver has a new contract no other story in the sport is bigger. Personally, I think he will go ahead and sign another contract with DEI.
But he doesn’t have to.
Dale Jr. has a lifetime sponsor contract with Budweiser, the current sponsor on his No. 8 car. If he wanted to leave DEI and form his own team, he would have one of the best sponsors in the business.
“I like driving the red car with the number 8 on it, and to drive that car you have to drive for DEI,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don't really know what to tell you other than that. We're working to get through the contract and finish up a new deal. …There's just some things involved that I want out of the future involving the company, and it's very difficult for everybody to see eye to eye there.”
Dale Sr. created DEI for his children, and the statements made about Dale Jr. by Teresa are insults.
According to Richie Gilmore, DEI Director, Teresa has only attended five races since assuming control of the company.
But as I said earlier, I believe Dale Jr. is waking up.
Just this past week, DEI announced that Kerry Earnhardt had been hired as a test driver.
And I think before long, his sister will be working for DEI, if she isn’t already.
It’s good that they want to be part of the decision-making process in the team their father built, and not treated just as contracted employees.
“It has nothing to do with money,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It just has a lot to do with the future. …It's just about trying to make life as simple as you can make it and trying to make everything as successful as you can make it.”
Go for it!
GREEN Fastest In Daytona Testing – Meanwhile, the first of two weeks of preseason testing for Cup teams at Daytona has concluded. Jeff Green recorded the best time in this week’s testing, speeding around the 2.5 mile tri-oval at a 186.722 mph clip. The mark was set in Wednesday’s afternoon session. The Owensboro, KY native and driver of the No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet finished 28th in last year’s driver standings.
Among the 2006 Chase drivers who participated in this week’s testing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. grabbed the top speed with a 186.606 mph mark in Tuesday’s afternoon session. Earnhardt Jr., who was replaced by brother Kerry for Wednesday’s test sessions, finished with the second best personal mark of the week.
Kasey Kahne, though posting the slowest time in the first four test sessions, bounced back in Wednesday’s afternoon session to a top speed of 186.355 mph.
Reigning Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, recovering from a broken left wrist, posted a speed of 185.632 MPH during Wednesday’s afternoon session, his best time of the week.
Kevin Harvick had the slowest time of all the 2006 Chase drivers with a 185.143 MPH.
Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon didn’t attend. Daytona testing typically means more for crews to get the cars set up right than it does for the drivers.
Veteran racer Mike McLaughlin tested the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy for Stewart.
Gordon is competing in the Dakar Rally, which runs January 6-21 through seven countries in Europe and Africa. Gordon, who has made the switch from Chevy to Ford, was replaced by P.J. Jones for the test session.
Craftsman Truck teams tested January 12-14.
The second half of Cup Series testing will take place January 15-17.
The Busch Series will open its 2007 season with testing at Daytona during two sessions January 19-21 and January 21-23.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team will Clint Bowyer drive for in 2007?
Last Week’s Question: What is the longest track on the NASCAR Cup circuit? Answer. It is Talladega Superspeedway at 2.66 miles, while Daytona is the second-longest at 2.50 miles.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com
Mountain View boys' teams won regular-season championships in basketball, volleyball and soccer during the 2006 calendar year.
At the end of December the basketball team again shared first place in the 2006-07 season with the potential for yet another championship.
One common denominator among the three teams that have brought success to the school is the play of Joe Scanlon.
Scanlon was a division scoring champion and Player of the Year on the soccer team that went all the way to the state Class A semifinals. He was a co-Player of the Year on the league volleyball champions. After being a key reserve on the championship basketball team, Scanlon is a starting forward as the Eagles try to repeat.
For his year-round contributions to the success of the Mountain View sport's programs, Scanlon has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year for 2006.
"Our class has nine or 10 seniors who are all three-sport athletes," Scanlon said. "We played at each other's houses and against each other. We all hate to lose and we'd even fight at times. But, now that we're on the school teams, we work well together."
Scanlon follows Whitney Williams, who earned a softball scholarship while also winning a soccer scoring title and surpassing 1,000 points in basketball, to give Mountain View the last two winners of the award.
"He's an outstanding natural athlete and he has great instincts," said Patrick Heaton, who coaches Scanlon in basketball and, in his role as athletic director, sees him excel in the other two sports. "He has the ability to see the ball and figure out where to go."
Heaton knows Scanlon, who scores many of his goals on headers off corner kicks and other set pieces, can get up in the air.
"It's not just that he can jump; he has great timing on his jumping ability," Heaton said. "That's something he is able to use in all three sports."
Scanlon says each sport helps prepare him for the one that follows.
"Basketball carries over to volleyball with the jumping," he said. "Soccer carries into basketball season with the speed, getting up and down the court and reading what's going to happen.
"And, playing all three, always keeps me in shape."
Scanlon is the son of Tim and Kim Kinney of Harford.
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