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Susquehanna senior Amber Gaffey returned to Philadelphia Thursday week for the Penn Relays, the most attended track and field event in the United States.
Gaffey was one of 22 high school pole vaulters from throughout North America who were part of the field at an event that draws more than 22,000 competitors in various events. About half of the competitors are high school athletes.
Gaffey, a three-time state medalist and a former state champion in Class AA, finished tied for 11th. She was one of six Pennsylvania athletes in the top 12.
The top four finishers all train with Gaffey at Vertical Assault in Bath, in the Lehigh Valley.
Vertical Assault has also produced the last four champions, including Abigail Schaffer of Easton, who won on a tiebreaker over Chrissy Finkel after both cleared 12-4 1/4. Becky Frey of Bethlehem Liberty was third while Stephanie McDougal of Lansdale North Penn was tied for fourth.
Schaffer, Frey and McDougal all compete in Class AAA within the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Only seven competitors went higher than Gaffey's 11-9, but she was officially tied for 11th with Nicole Pompei of Hanover Park, N.J. based on the tiebreaker of fewest misses.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Weather has forced a new type of doubleheader in Lackawanna League baseball and softball.
Teams are using weekend dates to play two games, but against different opponents.
Montrose and Blue Ridge each won games to start Saturday before meeting each other.
Blue Ridge needed a rally and was held to its lowest scoring output of the season, but the defending state Class A champion Lady Raiders remained undefeated with a 6-3 victory.
Jocelyn Dearborn, who had a three-run homer in a 10-1 win over Lackawanna Trail in the earlier game, hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to erase a 3-1 deficit against Montrose.
The Lady Raiders improved to 7-0, including 6-0 in the league, and are averaging 11 runs per game.
Brandy Rogers pitched a three-inning perfect game as Montrose started the day with a 15-0 win over Forest City.
The Lady Meteors stole 31 bases in the win.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won two out of three games in Norfolk then returned home for a 3-2 victory over the Admirals Sunday night to complete a 4-2 win in the best-of-seven, first-round Calder Cup playoff series.
The Penguins and Admirals tied for the second-best record in the league in the regular season.
The series was tied, 1-1 and 2-2, before the Penguins won the last two games.
Eight different players scored as the Penguins set team playoff records for goals and victory margin in an 8-1 Game Five romp in Norfolk.
Robert Nilsson, who had three assists in Game Five, scored the series winner with 2:35 left in Game Six. Tom Gilbert took a shot and Connor James got a piece of the rebound, working it free for Nilsson to tap in the winner.
Katherine Lucenti is one of the two main pitchers on a College Misericordia team that recently earned head coach Charlotte Slocum her 600th career victory.
The freshman from Elk Lake is 10-4 on the mound to help Misericordia to records of 17-3 in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference and 23-11 overall.
Lucenti has appeared in 16 games, including 15 starts. She has 10 complete games and two shutouts.
In 88 innings, Lucenti has struck out 66 while giving up 77 hits and 16 walks. She has a 1.99 earned run average.
Lucenti has batted in five games, going 1-for-12 (.083) with a walk and two runs scored.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Blue Ridge, Elk Lake and Susquehanna are among the track teams competing in the Jordan Relays Thursday night at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
In high school softball, Blue Ridge plays three road games against division opponents with winning records.
The Lady Raiders were scheduled to play at Susquehanna Monday. They face Carbondale Wednesday and Montrose Friday.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will travel to Hershey Wednesday and Friday for the first two games of their second-round Calder Cup playoff series.
The Bears come to Wilkes-Barre for Game Three Saturday night.
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
Gordon Wins Wild One At Talladega, Talladega, AL – Jeff Gordon is in a roll. With luck on his side, he can do no wrong.
Jeff Gordon won Sunday's Aaron's 499 from the pole.
Twice Gordon benefited from caution flags during Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The first came during lap 185 of the 188-lap race, after David Reutimann had lost an engine in his No. 00 Toyota, and Gordon had just taken the lead from Jamie McMurray.
The field with Gordon as the leader circled the track for five laps while speedway officials cleaned oil off the racing surface. The stage was set for a green/white/checkered finish.
When the green flag was given, it was Gordon, McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and David Gilliland. Gordon got a good jump on McMurray and was leading the race when a series of wrecks behind him brought out the race’s final caution and ended the race.
It was Gordon’s second consecutive win. His other one came last Saturday at Phoenix.
“I never dreamed we were going to win that race,” said Gordon. “At the end we were so far back and there were so many good guys ahead of us.”
It was also his 77th win and it moved him ahead of Dale Earnhardt Sr. for sixth-place in career wins.
The area around Talladega is predominantly Earnhardt country, and many fans threw cans, rolls of toilet paper, and soft drink cups at Gordon’s No. 24 on his victory lap. Police escorted about a dozen rowdy fans away in handcuffs.
Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, David Gilliland, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Stremme, and Martin Truex Jr., rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Tony Stewart, who finished 27th had a rough weekend. First, he was beat out at the finish line by Bobby Labonte in Saturday’s Busch race. During Sunday’s Cup race, he was assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding down pit road, and on the last lap, he was hit twice and knocked into the inside wall.
“I guess he don’t have any talent,” is the way Stewart referred to David Gilliland, who put the second hit on him.
Top 10 Nextel Cup leaders after 9 of 36: 1. J. Gordon-1521, 2. J. Burton-1318, 3. Kenseth-1292, 4. Johnson-1290, 5. Hamlin-1189, 6. Stewart-1081, 7. Harvick-1062, 8. McMurray-1059, 9. Kyle Busch-1054, 10. Kurt Busch-1038.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Skinner-905, 2. T. Bodine-797, 3. Crawford-777, 4. Hornaday-751, 5. Sprague-734, 6. Musgrave-727, 7. Benson-703, 8. Crafton-683, 9. Kvapil-653, 10. Darnell-651.
Don’t Rain On NASCAR’S Parade – Tony Stewart is not my favorite person, but he is one driver that does speak out on issues that others refuse to get involved in, and I admire him for that.
He made some statements last week that got him into hot water with NASCAR officials.
I’m sure that everyone has learned that on his Sirius Satellite radio program last week, Stewart said he couldn’t understand how long the fans were going to let NASCAR treat them like they're stupid before they do an about-face.
Stewart’s comments were in reference to caution flags that NASCAR seems to throw near the end of each race. These cautions are designed to bunch up the field and make for a better and more exciting finish.
“It's hard to feel proud about being a driver in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series when they're throwing debris cautions,” he said. “It's like playing God. They can almost dictate the race at that point instead of the drivers doing it. It's happened too many times this year, and it's to the point to where you just get so frustrated it's hard to fathom. 'Hey, wrestling worked and it was, for the most part, staged so I guess it's going to work in racing, too.’”
After finishing second at Phoenix International Raceway April 21, Stewart did not speak to members of the media – as is required of the top three finishing drivers per NASCAR rules.
But it wasn’t the first time that a driver has missed a post race conference. Once, Mark Martin didn’t come because he was celebrating with his family. Another time, the news media were told Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t make it because he didn’t want to miss his helicopter ride out of the track.
It was the remarks that infuriated image-conscious NASCAR officials so much that before they would allow his car to be unloaded at Talladega on Friday, Stewart had to meet with officials and issue an apology.
NASCAR called Tony Stewart's comments "very, very disappointing."
“NASCAR has been running races since 1948, and we place the safety of the drivers at the top of the list,” said spokesman Jim Hunter. “We have more people and more resources than ever officiating our races. The safety of the drivers is our first priority. It has always been that way and will continue to be that way. There are thousands of talented race drivers out there who would consider it an honor to compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.”
NASCAR fined Stewart $10,000 for not attending the post race media conference, but this fine was not announced until Friday, five days after Stewart skipped out on the press conference.
Stewart’s remarks were partly out of frustrations he’s had this season. The difference between Stewart and other drivers is, the ones that remain silent know which side their bread is buttered on.
They are team players that are content to play NASCAR’s ball game and keep their mouths shut.
In other words, it’s wise not to make statements that reflect badly on NASCAR. The officials didn’t really fine Stewart for not attending the press conference; it was about speaking his mind about NASCAR.
When Jim Hunter talks about how concerned NASCAR is about drivers’ safety, he never mentions that it took Dale Earnhardt’s death to bring about safety changes.
It wasn’t until “Fireball” Roberts died following a fiery crash in 1964 after his fuel tank exploded that NASCAR mandated a safer fuel cell. The same fuel cell had been in existence for over a decade, but NASCAR refused to allow it.
You want to know the real side of NASCAR? Go talk with a driver that is no longer in the sport.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask some old-time driver how NASCAR has taken care of him.
I agree with Stewart’s statements. NASCAR is getting more and more into the entertainment business and away from the sport of racing.
What do you think about NASCAR and Stewart’s statements? Send your comments to: The Racing Reporter, P.O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616. If we use them, we will send you an 8x10 photo of your favorite driver. You may also e-mail to: email@example.com.
The Cup and Busch teams are at the 0.75-mile Richmond, VA track, while the Craftsman Trucks have the weekend off.
Friday, May 4, Busch Series Circuit City 250, race 11 of 35, 250 laps, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Saturday, May 5, Nextel Cup Crown Royal/Jim Stewart 400, race 10 of 36, 400 laps, 7 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: What year did Talladega Super Speedway open?
Last Week’s Question: How many Cup teams does Ray Evernham have this season? Answer. He has two, the No. 9 driven by Kasey Kahne, and the No. 19, driven by Elliott Sadler.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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