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The particularly harsh spring weather has made it hard for many local high school teams to even get in competition.
But for one day, April 10, a group of Susquehanna County athletes were able to shine even when conditions seemed just good enough to hold contests.
The Blue Ridge softball and boys' and girls' track teams joined a Montrose girls' track performer in producing the impressive accomplishments.
Defending state champion Blue Ridge wound up in the type of game that has been rare for the Lady Raiders in recent years. They went into extra innings in a high-scoring game.
Blue Ridge escaped its first big challenge of the season with an 8-7 win over Carbondale in eight innings.
Carbondale scored in the top of the eighth to take a 7-5 lead.
The Lady Raiders rallied with three runs to win it on Kate Donovan's triple.
Dayna Keene scored the winning run after her double drove in Alissa Richardson to force the tie.
Both teams won division titles and were top seeds in the District 2 tournament a year ago, but are now competing together in Division III of the Lackawanna League. Carbondale was the top seed in Class AA last season before being upset in the second round. Blue Ridge rolled through the District 2 and state Class A tournaments to finish a perfect season.
The Blue Ridge girls' track team also had an exciting finish.
Blue Ridge came to the final event of its meet against Elk Lake facing a one-point deficit.
Lauren Findley, Megan Kleiner, Meghan Ragard and Laurie Hall combined for a school record time of 4:24 in the 1600 relay to lift the Lady Raiders to a 77-73 victory.
The meet matched two of the three teams – Carbondale was the other – that shared the Lackawanna Track Conference Division III title a year ago. Blue Ridge is the only one of those three to still be unbeaten this season.
In the boys' meet, Aaron Onyon set a school record in the shot put with a heave of 51-3 to break Kirk Hinkley's 32-year-old school record during a 97-48 win over Elk Lake.
Montrose crushed West Scranton, 130-19, in an LTC Division II girls' meet with the help of freshman Julia Koloski's record-setting day.
Koloski kept the 100-meter record in the family with a time of 12.3 to break the 24-year-old mark held by her mother, the former Diane DiPhillips. Koloski also tied her mother's record in the 200 with a time of 26.0.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Binghamton Mets went extra innings Thursday before dropping a 10-7 decision to the Portland Sea Dogs in the 11th inning of their Eastern League home opener.
Binghamton overcame an early 5-0 deficit to move in front 6-5 in the seventh inning.
The Mets rallied again in the 10th inning before losing in 11.
Binghamton also lost in its season opener when it fell to the Erie Seawolves, 8-0, April 9.
In the American Hockey League, the Hershey Bears claimed first place in the East Division and overall when they used five first-period goals to beat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 6-1, Friday.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished second with a 51-23-2-4 record.
The Binghamton Senators finished last overall with a 23-48-4-5 mark.
In the arenafootball2 league, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers quarterback Ryan Vena threw six touchdown passes against his former teammates to lead a 52-43 victory over the Albany Conquest Friday night.
Vena's first three touchdown passes went to Jim Jones, another former Albany player.
"We have a couple new wrinkles here and there that are different from what we did in Albany," said Vena, who set a league record for passing yards while with the Conquest. "For the most part, arena football's arena football. You just have to execute."
Whitney Williams has moved into the starting lineup as a freshman at the University of Massachusetts, a national softball power.
Williams has appeared in 30 games, starting in 22, for Massachusetts, which is 22-12-1 and 8-0 in the Atlantic 10.
The Mountain View graduate and 2005 Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year selection is 5-for-5 on stolen-base attempts while hitting .286 with four doubles.
Massachusetts has the nation's longest home Division I winning streak at 21 games.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will open the best-of-seven, first-round Calder Cup playoff series with the Norfolk Admirals Friday night at home.
The Penguins are also home for Game Two Saturday.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished second overall and Norfolk took third overall in the American Hockey League, but they have to face each other in the first round of the playoffs because both are in the East Division.
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
Burton Wins Texas Duel Over Kenseth, Ft. Worth, TX – Jeff Burton won a hard fought duel with Matt Kenseth, his former teammate to win Sunday’s Nextel Cup Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jeff Burton celebrates his Sunday win at Texas.
Photo courtesy of NASCAR
The only lap Burton led was the one that mattered; the last and final one.
“Matt’s a helluva driver,” said Burton. “We were just a little faster than he was. He held me off for about 15 laps. That’s just how good he is.
“We were really good on long runs, but got beat up on short ones, and we just got what we needed, a long run and it worked out for us.”
The final showdown began on lap 315 of the 334-lap race when Kenseth passed Jeff Gordon for the lead. Burton was running third at the time, but within three more laps, he had caught Kenseth’s No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford.
The pair battled for the remaining 16 laps, with Kenseth running the high side, and Burton down low. Burton tried to pass several times, but could never pull his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the front until the cars were about a half-mile from the finish line on the last lap.
“It’s painful losing the lead and race on the last lap,” said Kenseth. “My guys gave me a shot to win it, and that’s all I could ask for. If I had to go through it again, I’d get beat the same way. I couldn’t have done anything more except to wreck.”
Jeff Gordon started on the pole and led the most laps, but slapped the outside wall twice in the closing laps.
“Man, I’m just sick,” he said. “I don’t want to give races away. I felt like we had the car to beat, but I came off turn four, and the thing went right into the wall.”
Burton became the first repeat winner at TMS. He won the inaugural race in 1997.
It was a tough day for Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Busch, and Tony Stewart.
During lap 240, Stewart was hit by Juan Montoya, who slid up the track into Stewart’s No. 20. Stewart spun and Jimmie Johnson ran into Stewart’s No. 20.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was leading the race when he was rear-ended by Kyle Busch on lap 252. Earnhardt’s team made repairs to his car, but a few laps later the motor in his No. 8 blew up.
“I’m really, really proud of all the guys in the shop,” said Dale Jr. “The motor was fantastic. It was probably my fault. When you spin around you usually roll the tires and spin the motor backwards, and that’s probably what happened.
“We just haven’t had any luck, but one of these days, it will be our day.”
Kyle Busch left the garage area before his team finished repairs on his No 5, and Dale Jr. finished the race in the No. 5 for Busch’s team.
Top ten finishing order: 1. Jeff Burton, 2. Matt Kenseth, 3. Mark Martin, 4. Jeff Gordon, 5. Jamie McMurray, 6. Greg Biffle, 7. Martin Truex, Jr., 8. Juan Montoya, 9. Denny Hamlin, 10. David Stremme.
Top-12 points leaders: 1. J. Gordon-1136, 2. J. Burton-1128, 3. Kenseth-1011, 4. Johnson-955, 5. Hamlin-914, 6. Bowyer-866, 7. Kyle Busch-856, 8. Edwards-837, 9. Stewart-814, 10. McMurray-805, 11. Martin-794, 12. Stremme-779.
Kenseth Wins Texas Busch Race – Top-10 Busch Series leaders after 8 of 35: 1. Edwards-1370, 2. Blaney-967, 3. Harvick-938, 4. Kyle Busch-913, 5. Reutimann-907, 6. Kenseth-873, 7. Hamilton Jr.-859, 8. Ambrose-824, 9. M. Wallace-819, 10. Ragan-802.
Waltrip Needs Time Off, Ft. Worth, TX – Michael Waltrip loves his family and his job. He is a five-time Nextel Cup Series and 11-time Busch Series winner; a husband, a father, a brother, a marathon runner, an owner, a driver, a TV analyst and the list doesn't stop there.
For many years he’s lived his dream, but his life is in turmoil.
If anyone ever needed a break from the action, it’s Waltrip.
The world has overwhelmed that boy.
The latest setback for Waltrip comes less than a week after he was charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident after hitting a telephone pole and wrecking his SUV about a mile from his North Carolina home, April 7.
Waltrip missed his sixth straight Nextel Cup race after qualifying at Texas was canceled Friday because of severe storms.
He wasn't talking or racing this past weekend.
And who can blame him?
Waltrip has made only one race this season in his No. 55 NAPA Chevrolet, and that was the Daytona 500. Even though he qualified for the race, his team was caught cheating prior to the race.
Inspectors found a fuel additive in his engine, and he was docked 100 driver points. His crew chief was fined a record $100,000 and suspended indefinitely, as was his competition director.
I’m not saying Waltrip’s actions after his wreck should be justified, but knowing the pressures that drivers in the Nextel Cup series experience, I think Waltrip has a full plate. With the ownership of three major teams, his race schedule, and being responsive to his family is more than one person should have to bear.
Combine all the above with his teams’ poor performance records and anyone should be able to understand how his mind would be overloaded.
Dale Jr. Is Developing His Own Brand Image – ESPN reported that Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, sister and business manager for Dale Earnhardt, Jr., isn't yet convinced a contract extension with Dale Earnhardt Inc. is on the horizon.
“It's not that talks are going badly. But many variables exist, and time is precious,” she said. “I don't know if we'll get there.
“There's a whole lot of dynamics that play into it all. Two variables in particular, are crucial to Earnhardt's desire for a majority stake in ownership of DEI. One is the family piece.”
“Obviously our dad started [DEI] to field race cars, and all intentions of [Dale Jr.] being a part of that, and the rest of us being a part of it, in terms of my other brothers and sisters. But I think the biggest reason we want a piece of DEI is for control of [Dale Jr.'s] brand, and where it's going. They can all coexist – the whole Earnhardt family – as one big brand. And there's several brands underneath it.”
Elledge said she and Dale Jr. feel DEI has done a good job maintaining their father's brand, but that Dale Jr. has an entirely different brand that they want to control and mesh into the overall Earnhardt brand.
The Cup and Busch teams are at Phoenix, AZ. The Cup teams will be racing the Car of Today. This will be the first race for the COT on a one-mile track.
Friday, April 20, Busch Series Bashas Supermarkets 200, race 9 of 35, 200 laps, 9 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Saturday, April 21, Nextel Cup Subway 500, race 8 of 36, 312 laps, 8 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: How many Cup wins does Jamie McMurray have?
Last Week’s Question: Who is the defending Busch Series champion? Answer: Kevin Harvick.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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