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Scranton – The District 2 Class AA Girls’ Track and Field Championships were just getting started Thursday at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Only two events had been decided and already two meet records had been established by Susquehanna County athletes.
No one else was able to duplicate the record-setting performances by the Elk Lake 3200-meter relay team or Susquehanna pole vaulter Amber Gaffey, but the big day was just getting started for county girls.
Montrose produced three individual golds – including two by freshman Julia Koloski – while Elk Lake had two first-place individuals to go along with its winning relay team and Blue Ridge had a gold-medal winner.
The boys’ track championships went on at the same time and included two gold medals for county athletes – Blue Ridge’s Aaron Onyon in the discus and Montrose’s Corey Poepperling in the pole vault.
Koloski was also on a second-place relay team and added a tie for third place while leading Montrose to 80 1/2 points, good for third in the 21-team field. Dallas edged Lake-Lehman, 110 1/2 -102 1/2, for the title.
Steffany Jahnke had Montrose’s other gold and was also on the relay team that qualified for the state meet along with all the other top-two finishers in the district meet.
Rachel Owens, the anchor on winning and second-place relay teams, and Jessica Sekely had Elk Lake’s individual wins. The Lady Warriors were fourth with 66 points.
Lauren Findley won the 400 for Blue Ridge, which was sixth with 39 points.
Susquehanna was 15th with 12 points and Mountain View was tied for 19th with two.
The only final on the track in the afternoon session was in the 3200 relay.
Lisa Rupert and Ellen Squier ran the first two legs and kept Elk Lake in contention in a tight three-way battle with Lake-Lehman and Scranton Prep.
Kimberly Caines moved the Lady Warriors into striking distance in the third leg.
Rachel Owens did the rest as the anchor.
When the leaders reached the start/finish line heading into the last lap, Owens was dead even with Lake-Lehman’s Amanda Cooper and not quite a full stride ahead of Scranton Prep’s Carrie Frattali.
Owens decided it was time to do something.
“Usually I make my move down the last stretch,” Owens said, “but, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance so I went early.”
Owens took off in the turn and opened an impressive lead.
Frattali briefly tried to mount a comeback coming out of the last turn and heading for the final 100 meters, but faded.
“I thought I heard breathing behind me, but then there was no one there,” Owens said.
The winning time of 9:38.77, took more than three seconds off the record of 9:42:21 set by Dallas in 2004.
Gaffey had already started her work when the Elk Lake girls ran their race.
The Susquehanna senior was going long after the rest of the pole vaulters were finished. The 2005 state champion and three-time state medal winner was the only girl to clear more than 8 feet in windy conditions.
After reaching 10-6, Gaffey had the bar set at 11-1, an inch higher than the district record she set in 2005 and tied last year. She made the record height, adding an exclamation point to her fourth straight district title.
“Wind is a big factor here,” said Gaffey, who cleared a career-high 12-3 in a meet at Susquehanna earlier in the month. “There’s always a cross wind that knocks you off as you’re going to plant.”
The two recent record performances have Gaffey going to the state championships in Shippensburg with more confidence than a year ago.
“I feel like I’ll jump well at states if the weather cooperates,” she said.
While others set records, Koloski made her district meet debut by scoring the most points of any girl at the event.
Koloski won the 100 meters in 12.50 seconds and the long jump with 16-9 3/4. She tied for third in the high jump.
The freshman’s performance in the 400 relay also helped add to the lengthy list of Lady Meteors who are headed to the state meet.
Koloski followed Mariah Castrogiavanni and shot the Lady Meteors into the lead in the second leg. Emily Way and Jahnke finished up for a second-place finish in 52.39 seconds.
Jahnke won the triple jump and just missed a third berth at states when she took third in the long jump.
Elya Spolar is the second qualifier behind Gaffey in the pole vault.
Tara Chiarella competed in a difficult double, taking third in the 1600 in 5:36.7 and fifth in the 3200 in 12:21.53. She wound up reaching the state meet in the 1600 when one of the two runners ahead of her scratched.
Alyssa Hickey lost a tiebreaker to her teammate, Spolar, and had to settled for third in the pole vault.
The other Montrose points came from a fifth-place finish by Sarah Kimsey in the high jump, seventh place by Samantha Cudo in the 1600 and an eighth-place finish by the 3200 relay team of Rachael Klein, Emma Steed, Sara Jones and Kristina Klein.
Elk Lake’s 800 runners will concentrate on the relay at states despite strong individual performances.
Owens won the 800 in 2:22.73 and Caines was third in 2:24.83. Owens scratched from the state 800 and Caines declined the opportunity to be her replacement.
Sekely won the discus with a finish of 114-10 and placed in the other two throwing events, taking third in the javelin and sixth in the shot put.
Elk Lake will also send its 1600 relay team to the state meet after the combination of Randi Jo Brown, Squier, Rupert and Owens qualified by taking second.
Caitie Good placed in two sprints, taking fourth in the 100 and sixth in the 200.
Brown finished fourth in the 400.
Findley was Blue Ridge’s lone qualifier when she broke her own school record while finishing in 1:00.70 seconds.
Findley, who was the sixth seed in the event, said she was trying to get under 1:02 for the first time and was hoping to get as high as second place. She used a late surge to move all the way into first.
“I was just looking to get to states any way possible,” she said.
Meghan Ragard took third in the triple jump and anchored two of the three relay teams that scored points for Blue Ridge.
The 3200 relay team of Megan Kleiner, Beth Stone, Fallon Lawson and Laurie Hall took fifth for the Lady Raiders, as did the 1600 relay team of Findley, Hall, Kleiner and Ragard. The 400 relay team of Kaitchen Dearborn, Findley, Becky Stone and Ragard took seventh.
Beth Stone was fifth in the javelin while Becky Stone was seventh.
Dearborn was sixth in the long jump.
Janelle Collins, in the 3200, and Jessica Barron, in the discus, each took seventh.
Angela Petriello was involved in both points Susquehanna got in addition to Gaffey’s 10 for the pole vault win.
Petriello was eighth in the 100 hurdles and was on the eighth-place 400 relay team that also included Ellen Reavey, Misha Weldy and Mary Tarbox.
Mattie Kupinski scored Mountain View’s only points with a seventh-place finish in the triple jump.
While Gaffey’s pole vault victory was the latest in a long run of excellence, the boys’ win was produced by Poepperling, a newcomer.
“Last year, during an invitational, I just tried it once and cleared 10 feet,” said Poepperling, who was fifth in the 200. “Then, I practiced all summer.”
Blue Ridge’s Onyon won the discus and added a third-place finish in the shot put.
Montrose’s Jared Olah also qualified for the state meet by finishing second in the javelin. Teammate Tom Blachek was sixth in the event.
Elk Lake’s Ryne Carney was fourth in the 3200.
Blue Ridge’s Ryan Hawk was sixth in the 400.
Montrose’s Cody DeBoer was seventh in the long jump.
The Blue Ridge 3200 relay team of Steve Esposito, Hawk, Ryan Kane and Oliver Watjen finished eighth.
Lakeland took the team title from Valley View by winning the closing 1600 relay for a 98-93 advantage.
Montrose was 12th with 27 points. Blue Ridge was 14th with 21 and Elk Lake was 18th with five.
Susquehanna and Mountain View failed to get anyone into the top eight to score points and finished tied for 21st.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna’s track program was prominent at the District 2 championships.
The meet program, which was used for both the Class AAA and Class AA championships, featured cover photos of the school’s three state champions – Teresa Covert, Gaffey and Jim Corse. The main story inside the program was a detailed history of Susquehanna’s teams as compiled by former coach Dan Wolfe.
The 116-page program is available for purchase from the Walter B. Tewksbury Committee through Gerald C. Grimaud, 69 Putnam Street, Tunkhannock, 18657 or by phone at 836-4668.
The Class AAA championships were swept by the Abington Heights teams coached by Susquehanna native Frank Passetti.
The Comets and Lady Comets won all six relay races. The Lady Comets also had three freshmen win individual titles while the Comets completed a quick climb from the bottom of Division I of the Lackawanna Track Conference in three seasons under Passetti’s guidance.
Justin Passetti, the coach’s freshman son, finished third in the high jump after winning the conference championship in the event at the Bob Spagna Championship Meet a week earlier.
Eric Onyon of Blue Ridge took a gold and a silver medal May 12 in the District 2 Junior High Track and Field Championships.
Onyon won the discus with a throw of 153-6 and took second in the shot put at 46-8 1/4.
The Elk Lake boys’ 3200 meter relay team won the only other gold medal for the county with a time of 9:06.2.
Susquehanna’s Nick Vales was fourth in the pole vault at 9-0. He was one of three to clear that height but finished behind the other two on tiebreakers.
Elk Lake’s Sean Carney was sixth in the 400 meters while teammate Joe Woolcock was seventh in the 1600 and Blue Ridge’s Jared Conklin was seventh in the shot put.
Alison Hall of Blue Ridge had the top effort by a county girl with a fourth-place finish in the 1600 in 5:33.4.
Montrose’s Amelia DiPhillips was tied for fourth in the high jump at 4-6.
Oliva Zick of Mountain View was fifth in the javelin and seventh in the discus.
Blue Ridge’s Samantha Smith was sixth in the shot put.
Elk Lake’s Kelsey Hermick was eighth in the 400.
Whitney Williams had a thrilling freshman season with the University of Massachusetts.
Williams did not need long to take over as the starting shortstop for the Minutewomen, who advanced to the NCAA Division I women’s softball tournament where they reached the regional final before having their season come to an end Sunday with a 6-3 loss against top-ranked Oklahoma.
The 2005 Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team after helping Massachusetts (39-14-1 overall) to the conference title.
Williams went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored in the season finale against Oklahoma.
While playing in 49 games and starting 41, Williams was sixth on the team with a .304 batting average. She scored 21 runs, had eight doubles and went 6-for-6 stealing bases.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Defending state champion Blue Ridge, the unbeaten champion of Division III of the Lackawanna League, earned a top seed for the District 2 Class A softball playoffs.
Blue Ridge plays Thursday against the winner of the game between ninth-seeded Bishop Hannan (5-11) and eighth-seeded Bishop O’Hara (6-10).
Susquehanna, the sixth seed, and Forest City, the 12th seed, were each scheduled to begin tournament play Tuesday.
If Susquehanna (7-9) got past 11th-seeded St. Rose (1-15), the Lady Sabers would earn the chance to play at third-seeded Old Forge (12-2) Thursday.
Forest City (1-15) needed to win at fifth-seeded Bishop O’Reilly (9-6) in order to earn a shot at fourth-seeded Bishop Hafey.
The Class AA tournament opened Monday and at least one county team will be in the quarterfinals Wednesday.
Mountain View, the 11th seed, played at sixth-seeded Montrose (10-6) in one of the games scheduled for Monday. The winner faced the winner between third-seeded Nanticoke and 14th-seeded Dunmore.
Elk Lake was seeded ninth and had to play at eighth-seeded Monday for a chance to advance to Wednesday’s action against the top seed (either Lakeland or Carbondale).
In high school baseball, Lackawanna League Division III champion Mountain View claimed the top seed in Class AA.
The Eagles were set to open Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s game that featured West Side Tech (2-13) playing at Montrose (5-11) to trim the field to 16 teams.
Blue Ridge is the eighth seed in a deep field and is set to host ninth-seeded Lakeland Wednesday in a game between teams with 11-5 records. The Blue Ridge-Lakeland winner is the quarterfinal opponent for Mountain View, provided the Eagles avoid an upset.
Elk Lake is the 12th seed with a 7-9 record and plays at fifth-seeded Carbondale (12-4).
Susquehanna (6-10) was scheduled to play at home Monday as the sixth-seed against winless 11th-seed St. Rose in the Class A tournament. The Sabers needed to win to force a Wednesday quarterfinal game at third-seeded Bishop Hafey (11-4).
Forest City (3-13) took the ninth seed into a Monday game at eighth-seeded Bishop O’Hara (6-12). The Foresters were trying to earn a chance to face top-seeded Northwest (14-1) Wednesday.
In high school volleyball, the District 2 Class AA finals and consolation match are scheduled for Thursday at Wyoming Valley West. The quarterfinal round was planned for Monday and the semifinal for Tuesday.
Forest City used its Lackawanna League championship to earn the number-one seed. Mountain View was in the tournament as the second seed.
In high school track and field, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association finals are Friday and Saturday at Shippensburg University.
The county’s best will once again be in the spotlight as soon as the event opens.
The Elk Lake 3200 girls’ relay team, Gaffey, Koloski and Onyon represent the county’s best chances.
Elk Lake, which is the third seed out of 26 teams, will be running in the first event on the track for qualifying at 9 a.m. Friday.
At the same time, the first seven field events will be contested, including the pole vault where Gaffey is the fifth seed out of 27.
Koloski’s best state event could be the 100 where she is the fifth seed out of 27. The first 100-meter qualifying is scheduled for 11:30 Friday morning. All track finals are Saturday and, in the case of the 100 and 100 hurdles, there is a semifinal round earlier Saturday.
Onyon is the fifth seed out of 23 in the boys’ discus, one of the field events that is scheduled for Saturday morning at 9.
The last of the track finals is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.
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
Harvick Gets Second Big Payoff, Charlotte, NC – Kevin Harvick held off Jimmie Johnson in Saturday’s non-points, Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and took home $1 million.
Kevin Harvick celebrates his million dollar win at Charlotte.
It was the second time this season Harvick has collected a million dollars for winning. The other big payday came after winning the 2007 Daytona 500.
“To win the Daytona 500 and the All-Star race is pretty cool,” said Harvick.
Harvick, who ran in the top-five throughout the four-segment event, took the lead on lap 61 of the 80-lap race, and then literally drove the wheels off his No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet to stay in front of Johnson, who was breathing down his tailpipes the final 10 laps.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Chevrolet, provided plenty of fireworks in the final 10-lap segment started. He attempted to pass under his brother, Kurt Busch in the first turn. Kyle lost the handle on his Rick Hendrick Chevrolet and spun, collecting Kurt’s No. 2 Dodge in the process.
One of the favorites, Mark Martin finished third with Harvick teammate, Jeff Burton fourth. Tony Stewart battled an ill-handling car all night but wrestled his Home Depot Chevy to fifth place.
Rounding out the top-10 were Johnny Sauter, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Martin Truex Jr.
Kenseth, who led much of the night, had to go to the rear of the field after speeding on pit road before the start of the final 10-lap dash.
“I got so busy with those other cars, I looked down and I was 200 (RPM) over the limit,” he said.
Jeff Gordon finished 11th after a flat tire forced him into the pits. He was running with the leaders when misfortune struck.
The most impressive drive of the first two runs was made by Johnny Sauter, who finished second in the preliminary Nextel Open race to gain a starting position in the all-star event. Sauter started the race at the rear of the field but zoomed into contention by the end of the second segment.
Truex Jr. won the Open to advance into the All-Star Challenge. Sauter followed him in second to earn his birth in the All-Star Challenge. Kenny Wallace was chosen via the fan vote to participate in the All-Star Challenge. He finished 16th.
Junior Johnson And Midnight Moon – Legendary racer, Junior Johnson had many midnight runs hauling illegal whiskey, but this time Johnson’s “Midnight Moon” is legal.
Johnson has joined forces with Piedmont Distillers to introduce the company's second moonshine product, Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon. The company will continue to produce its popular original brand, Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine.
“I am really proud to own part of this company,” Johnson said. “I've done a lot of things in my life, and my history in the moonshine business is no secret. Back in the old days, we learned to drive cars fast because we'd go to jail if we didn't. Now, you can buy part of a moonshine business, tell everybody where they can buy your product, and it's all legal. It's a different deal than it was back then. I'm looking forward to being a part of this company.”
Like many of the other early stock car racers, Johnson grew up tending to the family's whiskey business. He helped his father work the copper stills during the day and developed his incredible driving skills by running shine at night. Junior combined his understanding of how to make a car run flat-out with his legendary driving skill to become one of the most successful drivers and owners in racing history.
As a NASCAR driver, Johnson won 50 races and 49 poles. He is tied with Ned Jarrett for 10th place on the all-time victory list.
No Room At Hendrick For Dale Jr. – “Right now, I’m full,” Rick Hendrick told the Associated Press. “We're good friends and I've talked to him, because I really want him (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) to make the best decision and do the best thing for himself.”
Hendrick fields Cup cars for four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Casey Mears. All are under contract through at least 2008, and Hendrick is currently trying to extend Busch's deal. Hendrick said he's offered to help Earnhardt if he elects to field his own Cup team.
Earnhardt is leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) at the end of the season. He wants to stay with one of the top Chevrolet teams so he can contend for championships, and Hendrick is the best in NASCAR right now with eight wins in the past nine Nextel Cup races.
Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are the next best Chevy teams, and both owners have indicated they are interested in speaking with Earnhardt. The only other team considered to be in the running is Ginn Racing.
AT&T Logo Legal On 31 Car – A federal judge on Friday ruled that Richard Childress can replace a Cingular logo with the new AT&T logo on the No. 31 car. The decision marks an important victory for AT&T.
The company sued NASCAR in March, alleging that the racing organization improperly prevented AT&T from putting its brand on the 31 car driven by Jeff Burton. The vehicle was branded for the former Cingular Wireless. AT&T took control of Atlanta-based Cingular in late December and is in the process of shedding the Cingular name.
NASCAR objected to AT&T's proposal for adding its logo to Burton's car. The racing organization cited a deal with Sprint Nextel, which holds the title sponsorship for NASCAR's top racing series. NASCAR said its agreements with Sprint Nextel prohibit the addition of other telecommunications companies as sponsors.
The U.S. District Court in Atlanta, ruled that AT&T would be likely to win the case. They agreed with AT&T's argument that a change in brands is allowed under a grandfather clause that was put in place to protect Cingular, despite Sprint Nextel's deal with NASCAR.
The Cup and Busch teams are at the 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, while the Craftsman Trucks race on the .5-mile Mansfield, Ohio track. This weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race of the season.
Saturday, May 26, Craftsman Trucks Ohio 250, race 7 of 25, 250 laps, 1 p.m. TV: Fox.
Saturday, May 26, Busch Series Carquest Auto Parts 300, race 13 of 35, 200 laps, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, May 27, Nextel Cup Coca-Cola 600, race 12 of 36, 400 laps, 5 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Which team did Cup driver Jeff Burton drive for before coming to Richard Childress Racing?
Last Week’s Question: How many Craftsman Truck Series championships has Jack Sprague won? Answer. Three-1997, ’98, and 2001.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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