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Susquehanna pole vaulter Amber Gaffey could eventually finish the high school track and field season in contention for her second state championship in three seasons.
Team pursuits, however, come before the sport turns back to individual emphasis on the district and state level.
Three Susquehanna County teams are likely to be in the running for division championships in the Lackawanna Track Conference portion of the season, which began last week.
Montrose has the deepest and most balanced team in the county and will use that to try to win the Division II championship.
Steffany Jahnke qualified for the state meet in the long jump last season. Her jumping ability, the distance running of Tara Chiarella and the sprinting/jumping of freshman Julia Koloski should lead the way for the Lady Meteors. Koloski won three gold medals and set a pair of records at last season's District 2 junior high championships.
Blue Ridge and Elk Lake shared last season's Division III title with Carbondale and could again be in the championship mix.
Blue Ridge may have more depth, but Elk Lake has Jess Sekely in all three throwing events and a strong combination of runners from the championship cross country team, led by Ellen Squier, Rachel Owens and Kim Caines.
Susquehanna and Mountain View also compete in Division III.
Gaffey had another off-season of national-level indoor competition in the pole vault to prepare her for the high school season.
Elk Lake and Blue Ridge could also be the strongest of the boys' contenders from the county.
Montrose has the added challenge of competing in Division II.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Mountain View senior Robbie Johnson tied for the team scoring lead with 19 points to help lead the Blue to a 124-93 victory over the Red in the Lackawanna League boys' basketball senior all-star game.
Johnson's teammate, Nick Stoud, added 17 points.
Chad Lasher, another Mountain View player, was also part of the winning team.
In girls' basketball, the South defeated the North, 95-77, despite 19 points by Blue Ridge's Jocelyn Dearborn.
Dearborn was selected as her team's Most Valuable Player.
More than half the South lineup was made up of players from Susquehanna County, including Forest City's Tara McGraw, Blue Ridge's Kate Donovan and Montrose's Jessica Franklin, Brittany Ely, Christine Brown and Caitlin Ely.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins matched a team record for goals in a game by hammering the Binghamton Senators, 8-1, in the final meeting of the season between the American Hockey League rivals.
The Penguins split two games with the league-leading Hershey Bears and finished the week four points behind Hershey and three points behind Norfolk in the East Division. The three division rivals also rank 1-2-3 in the overall league standings.
Bridgette Stone is in her second season as a starter on the College Misericordia women's lacrosse team.
The sophomore from Susquehanna plays attack and midfield.
Stone is the team's fourth-leading scorer, with eight goals and two assists. She has started every game to help the Lady Cougars to a 5-2 start.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees will make their debut Thursday at 7 at Lackawanna County Stadium against the Norfolk Tides.
The Binghamton Mets open their Eastern League season Thursday in Akron. They play their first seven games on the road before coming home to face Portland April 12.
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
JOHNSON Holds Off GORDON At Martinsville, Martinsville, VA – Jeff Gordon gave it his best shot, but came up a fender short to his teammate, Jimmie Johnson in Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500.
Jimmie Johnson celebrates his Sunday win at Martinsville.
“That was some of the hardest driving I’ve ever done, and to have a duel with someone like Jeff that I’ve looked up to was really something,” said Johnson. “To have my bumper beat on by my teammate in a way that didn’t jeopardize each one of us was really great.”
The stage was set for the late-race duel after a restart on lap 435 of the 500-lap race. Johnson was leading, with polesitter, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon behind him. When green flag racing resumed, Gordon quickly got by Hamlin and set his sights on Johnson.
He was able to close on Johnson, but could never pass the leader. Gordon could get into the corners better, but Johnson was quicker coming out.
The 13th and final caution came during lap 476. On the restart, with 19 laps to go, it was Johnson, Gordon, Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kyle Busch.
Gordon gave Johnson several taps and bumps but none of his moves were meant to wreck him. Coming out of turn 4 on the final lap, Gordon did get under Johnson, but came up about a fender-length shy as the two cars crossed the finish line.
“That was an awesome race,” said Gordon. “The only way I could have got by him was to wreck him. He is my teammate and he blocked me real bad. I thought I had him a couple times.
“There’s going to be some interesting racing, but I’m not going to wreck a guy to win a race. He did exactly what he should have done.”
Gordon is now the Nextel Cup points leader.
Johnson and his team had one of the poorest handling cars in practice on Saturday, and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, credited the win to the sharing of information by Gordon’s team.
Johnson has now won three of the first six races of the season. His win moved him from 17th to 11th in the Cup standings.
Polesitter, Denny Hamlin finished third.
“I was driving as hard as I could those last laps,” said Hamlin. “The car started coming back to me late in the run, but it was just one of those deals where we got caught short.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the most laps, but had to settle for fifth.
“We had a great car and I’m frustrated that we didn’t finish as well as we wanted to,” said Earnhardt. “We’ll take it, but we’re tired of running so good and not winning. If we stay patient, our day will come.”
Kevin Harvick had all kinds of difficulties. The first one was a fuel pump cable problem, much like the one that Tony Stewart experienced last week at Bristol. Late in the race some foam insulation in the right door panel caught fire, and Harvick wound up 41st with a DNF.
Several teams had brake overheating problems Sunday at Martinsville. During the 500-lap race, drivers had to drag race to the end of each straightaway, then slam on their brakes to slow down enough to negotiate the 180-degree turn and head the other way. It’s not uncommon to have brakes overheat and sometimes even fail, which can make for an incredibly long day.
During pit stops, some teams used a long piece of tubing with a nozzle on the end, which is attached to an air hose, to blow cool air on the left front brake before the crew member comes around and removes the tire. In spite of this precaution, the crewman that changes the front tires (as well as the guy who carries the front tires) can end up with burns from the heat coming off of the brake rotors.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Jimmie Johnson, 2. Jeff Gordon, 3. Denny Hamlin, 4. Kyle Busch, 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 6. Jeff Burton, 7. Tony Stewart, 8. Scott Riggs, 9. Jamie McMurray, 10. Matt Kenseth.
Top-10 points leaders after 6 of 36: 1. J. Gordon-966, 2. J. Burton-938, 3. Johnson-906, 4. Kenseth-836, 5. Kyle Busch-804, 6. Hamlin-776, 7. Bowyer-751, 8. Stewart-726, 9. Edwards-710, 10. Harvick-687.
Skinner Is Tough This Year In Trucks, Martinsville, VA – Mike Skinner has turned in a dominating performance in the Craftsman Truck series this season, after he won his third race of the season.
After victories at California and Atlanta, the driver of the No. 5 Bill Davis Toyota led 246 of the 250-lap Martinsville race on Saturday.
Top-10 Truck leaders after 4 of 25; 1. Skinner-745, 2. T. Bodine-651, 3. Crawford-602, 4. Hornaday-601, 5. Musgrave-600, 6. Sprague-564, 7. Crafton-549, 8. Benson-543, 9. Kvapil-529, 10. Fike-497.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Edwards-1005, 2. Harvick-808, 3. Kyle Busch-757, 4. Blaney-714, 5. Kenseth-683, 6. Montoya-650, 7. Ambrose-642, 8. Biffle-635, 9. M. Wallace-623, 10. Hamilton Jr.-600.
Want To Buy A Piece Of History? History was made in August of 1992 when Bristol Motor Speedway hosted the very first Nextel Cup Series race on an all-concrete surface. In July of this year, fans will get the opportunity to own a piece of that history.
A new concrete surface will be in place for NASCAR’s most popular race, the Sharpie 500 in August. However, on July 1, pieces of the original concrete surface from the start/finish line, where drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have celebrated Bristol victories, will be made available for fans looking to add the most unique of souvenirs to their racing memorabilia collection.
Three versions of the collectible will be made available to fans. There is a piece of concrete in an acrylic case that will sell for $25, a 12”x14” framed piece that is $60 and the Concrete Showpiece, priced at $100. A portion of all sales of the concrete will benefit the Bristol chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
Quantities from the actual start/finish line are limited. Only the actual concrete raced on by Bristol winners since 1992 will be sold – after it’s gone, no other portions of the surface will be sold.
Anyone wishing to order a piece of Bristol history can call the Speedway World souvenir store at BMS at (423) 989-6960 beginning July 1, order online at www.gospeedwayworld.com.
There is no racing next Sunday because of Easter. The only event this weekend is a Saturday Busch Series race outside Nashville, TN.
Saturday, April 7, Busch Series Pepsi 300, race 7 of 35, 225 laps, 3 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is Ward Burton driving for in 2007?
Last Week’s Question: Which Cup team does Carl Edwards drive for? Answer. He drives the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
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