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The Lackawanna League cross country season may go the rest of the way without duplicating the drama created in an opening meet Wednesday.
Rachel Owens won a head-to-head battle of team leaders by one second, helping Elk Lake to win by one point over host Honesdale in a match-up of defending District 2 champions.
Defending Class AA champion Elk Lake edged Class AAA champion Honesdale, 27-28, as part of its sweep of four meets in the opening cluster. Blue Ridge had five runners in before any of its other opponents, beating Western Wayne, 15-48, and Forest City and Carbondale by the maximum, 15-50.
Owens finished the 3.1-mile course in 20:49, a second in front of Honesdale's Kourtney Brussell.
Ellen Squier finished fourth in the cluster and third in the dual with Honesdale.
The Lady Warriors return all their top runners from last year's team that finished fifth in the state meet.
Blue Ridge went 3-1 in the opening meet while Montrose was 2-2.
Elk Lake's boys also swept four meets, including an impressive 18-43 romp over Honesdale. Ryan Carney finished first in 18:32 to lead the win.
Tyler Williams and Brent Salsman came in well under 19 minutes to give the Warriors the top three finishes.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Montrose graduate Chris Snee opened his fourth straight season as starting guard for the New York Giants.
The Giants lost their opener, 45-35, to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night.
Snee was part of an offensive line that helped the Giants average 5.6 yards per carry while throwing for 309 net yards and allowing just one sack.
In professional baseball, the best regular-season record in the International League was no help for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in the playoffs.
The Richmond Braves rallied for wins both Friday and Saturday nights, taking a 3-1 victory in the best-of-five semifinal series.
Richmond scored three runs in the ninth inning Saturday for a series-clinching, 4-3 victory.
Dating back to its time as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, the franchise is still searching for its first postseason title.
The first-year affiliation with the New York Yankees produced a team that won the North Division title and went 84-59.
In high school football, Susquehanna ended a 10-game losing streak with 27-19 victory at Western Wayne.
Cody Scepaniak completed three first-half passes, all for touchdowns, and C.J. Felter added an 80-yard touchdown run to produce the win.
Montrose dropped to 0-2 when it lost to Mid Valley, 33-20.
Mid Valley led, just 13-12, before scoring two touchdowns seconds apart in the final three minutes of the half.
Montrose failed to cover a kickoff after the first score, allowing Mid Valley to recover and go in for another.
Jared Fowler carried 26 times for 103 yards and two first-half touchdowns. He scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter and a 6-yard run in the second.
Levi Tiffany added 58 yards on eight carries.
Rob Volk hit Kyle Bonnice with a 24-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Andy Burgh added two receptions.
In high school golf, Montrose remained undefeated Friday when it handed Susquehanna its first defeat, 7-2, at Lake Lorain.
In field hockey, Montrose found itself tied after regulation for the second straight game, before falling to Berwick, 3-2, in overtime to drop to 0-1-1.
Brackney Brotzman had a goal and an assist and Madison Legg made 14 saves in the loss.
Spenser Stoud, a junior defender from Mountain View, is a member of the Marywood University men's soccer team.
Stoud has played in all four games, making two starts, for the Pacers (1-3).
THE WEEK AHEAD
Both county high school football teams are on the road this weekend.
Montrose is at North Pocono Friday in a meeting of 0-2 teams.
Susquehanna is at Shamokin Lourdes Saturday night in a game between 1-1 teams. Lourdes lost to Northwest, 14-0, and beat York County Tech, 22-14.
Our high school football predictions were 10-2 (83.3 percent) last week to improve to 20-6 (76.9 percent) on the season. This week's predictions, with home teams in CAPS: NORTH POCONO 27, Montrose 14; SHAMOKIN LOURDES 17, Susquehanna 13; Abington Heights 14, LAKELAND 10; East Stroudsburg North 35, HONESDALE 16; Valley View 42, MID VALLEY 20; LEHIGHTON 20, Wallenpaupack 19; WEST SCRANTON 27, Dunmore 13; Lackawanna Trail 20, RIVERSIDE 16; CARBONDALE 8, Western Wayne 7; NORTHWEST 32, Holy Cross 14.
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
The Chase Drama Is Over, Richmond, VA – The drama for this year’s Chase For the Nextel Cup is over. The 12-driver field for the final 10 races of the season is set and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport’s most popular driver, is out.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. talked to the news media after Saturday night's Richmond race.
Jimmie Johnson won for the second week in a row, taking the victory at Saturday night's Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond (VA) International Raceway. Tony Stewart was second while rookie David Ragan was third.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were in the middle of a hot race for second and third place in the final 60 laps, running two- and three-wide with Jeff Gordon and Stewart until the engine blew on his white Bud car, with six laps remaining in the race.
The engine issues dropped them from third to a finish of 30th place. It is the team's sixth "Did Not Finish" (DNF) of the season. The finish also sealed their fate, as they remained 13th in points following 26 races.
“I'm really sad for my fans, but especially for my team,” said Junior. “If you knew how hard they have all worked this year, and to run as well as we have, it breaks my heart. We've been a top-five car and a top-five team almost every week and yet we struggled with engines that wouldn't get us to the finish line. Tonight is just another example of the roller coaster season it's been.
“We're not gonna give up – we're gonna go out there and have fun and laugh and try to win races. Maybe we'll be a spoiler in the final races. When that last lap is completed at Homestead (the final race of the year), I want everyone to know we all worked hard and we did all we could to race hard and never gave up. I want to go out (at Dale Earnhardt Inc.) with integrity and that means never letting up.”
If Johnson can run the next 10 races like he has the last two, then it’s going to be another fun trip to the New York City awards banquet in December for the defending Nextel Cup champion.
“It's a great feeling to be able to go into the Chase leading the points. That's something you obviously want to do, not only from the points standpoint but from a psychological standpoint it's a benefit for sure,” said Johnson who led four times for 104 laps.
Jeff Gordon was fourth and Johnny Sauter fifth. Sauter's finish was his best of the season in a race where every position had to be earned with flat-out, wheel-to-wheel racing.
Denny Hamlin was sixth and Kevin Harvick, who took a wild ride through the tri-oval grass and wound up restarting way back in the pack, raced his way back to seventh place.
Kasey Kahne was eighth, Kurt Busch was ninth after being involved in an accident, and J. J. Yeley finished 10th.
The race, the 26th of the NASCAR season, was the last before the points were reset for the top-12 drivers in the points. These 12 drivers now run for the championship: 1.-Johnson-5060, 2. J. Gordon-5040, 3. Stewart-5030, 4. Edwards-5020, 5. Kurt Busch-5020, 6. Hamlin-5010, 7. Truex-5010, 8. Kenseth-5010, 9. Kyle Busch-5010, 10. J. Burton-5010, 11. Harvick-5010, 12. Bowyer-5000.
The Chase Has Begun – Newspapers throughout the country will feature “The Chase” as their cover story for the next ten weeks.
NASCAR’s original goal in developing the ten-race Chase format in 2004 was to create more interest during the latter stages of the 36-race racing season. The National Football League kicks off in September, and NASCAR was hoping to create something more exciting in order to go against the NFL on Sunday afternoons.
But it hasn’t worked. The 2006 television ratings were down, and this year’s ratings have dropped even more.
This year’s Chase isn’t as popular among old time racing fans as NASCAR would like for you to believe.
According to messages and comments I receive, the Chase has come up about a lap short of the finish line.
One reason is that television tends to highlight the 12 Chase drivers and forget about the rest of the field.
“I find myself watching less of NASCAR and here is the reason,” said Ray D. of Wysox, PA. “I really hate the fact that the winner of every race is down to about half a dozen predictable drivers.
“That leaves the other 37 drivers just driving around creating somewhat of an obstacle for the six that can win it every week.
“It was thrilling when Mark Martin was very competitive with the small Ginn Racing team.
“To sum up, I have lost interest because NASCAR has turned into a very high-dollar sport that proves that the little guy cannot survive, but only for the very rich.
“Just think what it would be like if Bobby Labonte in Petty’s No. 43 Dodge came home with a win. Better yet, if Kyle Petty had won, I would be glued to the TV.”
There hasn’t been much drama to this year’s racing.
Only ten drivers made the Chase in its first three seasons, and the field was expanded to 12 this year. It appears the two added spots have weakened the field.
I’ve said it often, but it remains true: Give race fans what they want, or you will lose them.
During the next ten weeks, we will highlight the Chase, but we also plan to focus on the “other” drivers that are outside the Chase. We begin this week with J. J. Yeley, current driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Chevrolet.
Yeley has signed to drive the No. 96 for Hall of Fame Motorsports beginning in 2008.
Yeley goes to Hall of Fame Racing from Joe Gibbs Racing, the team for which he drove full-time in the Cup Series beginning in 2006. Yeley was booted out from JGR after they signed Kyle Busch for 2008.
The son of seven-time Arizona Midget Racing Association and two-time World of Outlaws midget champion “Cactus” Jack Yeley, J.J. came to stock cars by way of open-wheel midget and sprint cars in the U.S. Auto Club (USAC), and it was his outstanding 2003 season that put him at the top among Nextel Cup car owners.
He had an amazing 24 USAC wins in 2003, breaking the single-season record set by racing legend A.J. Foyt, who won 19 races during the 1961 season. In addition, Yeley became only the second driver in USAC history to win the “Triple Crown” by capturing the Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown championships in a single season, joining his current Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart as the only other driver to accomplish that feat (1995).
Yeley has two other USAC championships along with an Indianapolis 500 start in 1998. But it’s NASCAR that Yeley now calls home, as his 68 career Nextel Cup starts and 110 NASCAR Busch Series starts attest.
He replaces Tony Raines, who has driven for Hall of Fame Racing the past two seasons and will drive the final 11 races in 2007.
“I very much enjoyed working with everyone at Hall of Fame Racing and DLP,” Raines said. “I can’t thank them enough for everything they did for me, and both companies are class organizations. We had some success, especially in the Car of Tomorrow (COT) races and I look forward to running the final 11 races, including the five COT races. We’re going to do our best to finish out strong before we go our separate ways. I wish them the best of luck in 2008 and beyond.”
THIS WEEKEND IN RACING
The Nextel Cup and Craftsman Truck teams are at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Speedway. The Busch Series has the weekend off.
Saturday, September 15, Craftsman Trucks New Hampshire 200, race 18 of 25, 200 laps, 2:30 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Sunday, September 16, Nextel Cup Sylvania 300, race 27 of 36, 300 laps, 1 p.m. TV: ABC.
Racing Trivia Question: Which cup team will Martin Truex, Jr. be with next season?
Last Week’s Question: Where is the last Nextel Cup race of the season held? Answer: It is held at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, FL.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at email@example.com.
Athlete Of The Month
The high school sports season got off to a miserable start when golfers tried to play through conditions that ultimately were deemed unplayable in the annual Jackman Memorial Tournament.
Few players handled the rain and unseasonably cold August conditions as well as Montrose's Jonathan Lodge.
Lodge finished second out of a field of more than 100 golfers, took away top senior honors and led Montrose to a fourth-place finish in the rain-shortened event at Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
For his efforts, Lodge is the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
Tournament officials decided to rank players in relation to par for the nine holes they completed. By starting on the 10th hole in the shot-gun start, Lodge finished up on Scranton Muni's toughest three holes when conditions were at their worst.
"They were extremely difficult conditions," said Lodge, who also posted a singles win in the league opener during August. "When we first started out, it was raining and we were all kind of skeptical if we were still going to play. It was misty and windy and cold and by the fourth hole it started to downpour and got worse.
"It was real tough to play in."
Lodge started the day with back-to-back birdies and was still at even par after seven holes.
The unusual decision to use par to compare the scores of golfers who did not play the same set of holes came as a surprise to many involved in the tournament.
"It's kind of unfair to everyone because it depends on what holes you have played," Lodge said, "But everyone did play the same conditions, so that part was fair."
Lodge was proud of himself for holding up to the difficult challenge.
"For the conditions we played in, I can say I played exceptionally well," he said.
The four-year starter and two-year captain kept busy this summer to prepare for his senior season.
Lodge competed in the Keystone Public Golf Association, the Central New York PGA Junior Tour and the national Plantation Junior Tour.
The Central New York PGA Junior Tour uses a point system to determine its top 60 players through 12 events and places them in a championship tournament. Lodge qualified for the tournament and finished eighth in the 14-18 age group.
"I'm real proud of him," Montrose coach Mike Zuba said. "He is very dedicated to being the best he can be."
Jonathan, who also has played on the tennis team the last two springs, is the son of John and Carol Lodge of Forest Lake.
Hallstead Mystyx Are Champions
Pictured (l-r) are the 16 & Under Southern Tier Travel Softball Major Champions, the Hallstead Mystyx: front row – Courtney Collins, Allison Hawk, Alissa Richardson, Larissa Decker, Kelly Burke; second row – Abbey Hewitt, Emily Knott, Ashleigh Mattocks, Becca Hinkley, Morgan Sinnett (MVP), Kaitlyn Krug, Carissa Hawk; coaches in back row – Joe Collins, Ed Krug, Tim Mattocks. Absent from the photo were: Carissa Stonier, Leann Terpstra, Ashley Stein.
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