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Local Sports Scene

Elk Lake Tops Western WayneFor Division Wrestling Title
By Tom Robinson

Elk Lake won seven of the final nine bouts Thursday night to wrestle the Lackawanna League Division 2 title away from defending champion Western Wayne with a 41-23 victory.

The Warriors are 5-0 with one match left. Second-place Western Wayne fell to 4-2 while Susquehanna is 3-2.

Josh Ralston's pin at 285 pounds clinched the victory. Jack Bolyard (130) also had a pin while Anthony Juser (152) won by technical fall.

Seth Canfield won a two-point decision while Tyler McCauley and Keaton Bennett won by three points. McCauley's win at 145 started the closing surge, which erased a 16-12 Western Wayne lead.

Abington Heights finished unbeaten to win the Division 1 title.


Binghamton - An event designed to show off skating the puck-handling skills was stolen by standout goaltending Sunday when Pekka Rinne of Milwaukee, Jimmy Howard of Grand Rapids and Tuukka Rask of Providence combined to lead PlanetUSA to a 15-9 victory over Canada in the American Hockey League Skills Competition at the Broome County Arena.

Rinne, Howard and Rask combined to stop 46 of 57 shots during various events. Rinne took the Top Goaltender award by stopping 16 of 19 shots.

"Our goalies were great," said Binghamton Senators rookie defenseman Brian Lee, who played for PlanetUSA.

Teams competed for points in seven events.

Canada's Mark Mancari of the Rochester Americans set an event record with the Hardest Shot, clocked at 102.8 miles per hour.

Gabe Gauthier of the Manchester Monarchs hit four targets in four shots to win the Accuracy Shooting competition for PlanetUSA.

Toby Petersen, a former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin who was representing the Iowa Stars on the PlanetUSA roster, was the Fastest Skater. Petersen finished a lap in 14.001 seconds, the fastest time in the event since 1998.

In high school basketball, the Lackawanna League jammed three nights of play into the week, quickly establishing the top contenders for second-half titles.

Lackawanna Trail, which finished second to Elk Lake in the first half of the season, is tied for the Division 3 boys' lead with Forest City after both teams went 3-0.

Mountain View and Carbondale went 2-1.

First-half champion Carbondale and Montrose remained the top two teams in the girls' division when each started out 3-0.

Blue Ridge and Mountain View went 2-1.

The top basketball game of the week came on the boys' side where Forest City beat Susquehanna in a multiple-overtime game for the second time this season, posting a 75-70 win in two extra sessions.

Jesse Walsh led Forest City with 29 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter when he scored the 1,000th of his career and seven more during the overtimes.

Susquehanna extended the game with exciting finishes to regulation and the end of the first overtime.

Forest City led, 57-51, before Craig Soden hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation. The Sabers got the ball back and Cody Scepaniak hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.

Soden did all of Susquehanna's scoring in the first overtime, picking up nine of his team-high 25 points, including a 17-footer at the buzzer to again keep the Sabers alive.

Chris Nebzydoski had 17 points, including 4-for-4 from the line in overtime, for Forest City. He had nine points in the first quarter when the Foresters jumped out to a 17-6 lead.

Stan Vitzakovitch added 12 points.

Brent Keyes had 19 points and Scepaniak added 14 for Susquehanna.

Forest City rallied from five behind in the fourth quarter of a 42-38 victory over Montrose.

Walsh had 12 points in the win.

Alan Charles led Montrose with 10.

Susquehanna also got off a slow start against Carbondale, falling behind, 13-5, at the quarter of a 53-42 loss.

Montrose got its only win of the week when it jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter of a 53-47 victory over Blue Ridge.

Charles had 17 points while Kyle Bonnice added 13 and Bill Stranburg had 11.

John Dixon had 12 points to lead Blue Ridge.

Charles had 23 points in a 68-58 loss to Lackawanna Trail.

Julia Koloski scored in double figures and had five steals in each game to help the Montrose girls beat Forest City, 51-32, and Lackawanna Trail, 44-34.


Brittany Ely had already produced what could be considered a successful freshman year in college sports.

Ely, a Montrose graduate, appeared in 11 games for the Wilkes University women's soccer team during a 9-9-1 season.

When the Lady Colonels ran into trouble on the basketball court, Ely added another college sport.

Ely has appeared in eight games, making six starts, for Wilkes, which is 0-5 in the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Conference and 1-16 overall.

In Saturday's 77-64 loss to Delaware Valley, Ely scored 11 points, pushing her season average to 5.9 per game.

Ely is leading the team in 3-point shooting, going 5-for-10 (50 percent). She is second on the team in field goal percentage (42.9 on 15-for-35 shooting) and third in free throw shooting (75 percent on 12-for-16) while averaging 3.1 rebounds per game.

At 5-foot-7, Ely, who played guard in high school, is also playing some at forward.


The District 2 Class AA Dual Meet Wrestling Championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Lake-Lehman.

The first two rounds are Friday night, with the finals set for Saturday night.

In girls' basketball, Carbondale is at Montrose for the second-half division lead Thursday.

In boys' basketball, the two teams that currently share the division lead will meet Monday when Forest City plays at Lackawanna Trail.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

The Racing Reporter

Major Changes For Craftsman Trucks, Hampton, GA—NASCAR instituted some new rules changes last week for the Craftsman Trucks. It should make racing in the series more exciting. But the teams I talked with during the Atlanta test sessions aren’t rejoicing or shouting hallelujah.

Ron Hornaday, the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series champion.

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Motor Speedway

Perhaps the most controversial was a new engine spacer. NASCAR has implemented a cone-shaped spacer that sits between the intake manifold and carburetor, limiting air flow into the engine and resulting in a loss of approximately 60 horsepower. Drivers and crew chiefs agreed the recent addition has teams scrambling for more power.

“With this new spacer, we are challenged to find ways to modify our set-up to make up for the loss of horsepower we are experiencing,” said Rick Ren, crew chief for defending Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. “One thing is certain though, this will bunch up the competition and at a track like Atlanta, we’re going to see a heck of a great show; that’s a good thing.”

It is estimated that the use of the approved spacer along with a harder Goodyear tire and a NASCAR mandated lower rear end gear ratio will create up to an 80 horsepower drop.

The Series will also be using a smaller, 18-gallon fuel cell for the 2008 season. The smaller fuel cell will result in more pit stops and NASCAR has allowed teams an extra set of tires to help with the added stops.

This will force crew chiefs to make strategic decisions throughout the race.

“The smaller cells and extra set of tires could make things a little dicey there at the end,” Wren continued. “If a caution comes out at the end, which is likely to happen at any race, everyone is going to have new tires and be bunched up. If that happens, watch out because it’s is going to be a show.”

Can The Wood Brothers Survive? The Wood Brothers Racing Team is one of the storied NASCAR Cup teams.

Dating back to 1953 when Glen Wood founded the No. 21 team, they have won 96 races. But after failing to make two races in 2007, and a so-so 2008 preseason test, it doesn’t look good for the team as they prepare for the season opening Daytona 500.

WBR operates only one car, the No. 21 Little Debbie Ford, in the Cup Series.

Single car teams, like WBR, are becoming fewer and fewer.

Last week, Morgan McClure Motorsports shut their doors after 25 years of Cup operations. Over a period of nine years in the 1990s, they won fourteen races. This wasn’t an earth shaking number, but it showed they were a good team.

The last ten years had not been good for the Abingdon, VA team. The last time MM won a race was in 1998, when Bobby Hamilton, Sr. was the driver. From then on things went downhill. Since Hamilton’s departure, at least eight different drivers have come and gone.

Their demise was brought about by the loss of sponsors. Who can blame a sponsor for pulling out if the team is not competitive?

The Wood Brothers have had only two wins in the past 14 years. The last one came in 2001 with Elliott Sadler, while the other was with Morgan Shepherd in 1993.

During the preseason test session, two weeks ago, Bill Elliott was 25th fastest in single car runs. In the afternoon, he had climbed to 16th quickest. The following day began slower with the No. 21 registering 33rd quickest in the morning. However, by the afternoon, the team had the car running 18th quickest. On Wednesday, during an extended practice period, Elliott was 21st fastest overall and was the 3rd quickest Ford.

“I've been coming to Daytona for a lot of years and this was a very good test,” said Elliott. “The team has made a lot of progress from last year. We made a lot of runs in two cars that were brought for testing. We made more runs than any other team.”

I hope Elliott’s enthusiasm and performance can transfer over into the regular season. Personally, I don’t expect the 21 car to be a boom this season, but I sure hope it doesn’t bust, either.

Being a past NASCAR champion, Elliott will be eligible to start the No. 21 in the first five races of the season, based on his 1988 championship. After that the team will have to qualify for each race. Ken Schrader, who drove part-time in 2007, will take over from Elliott after he uses up his five-race provisionals.

Glen Wood and the No. 21 team have played a major role in shaping NASCAR racing. With the possible exception of Petty Racing, the Wood family has impacted the sport more than anyone else. The sport needs more families and teams like the Wood Brothers.

I hope they can regain the competitiveness they once had, and remain on the circuit for many more years.

Jarrett To Replace Wallace In Booth – Dale Jarrett will expand his role with ESPN and join high school friends Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree in the booth for ESPN’s full season of NASCAR coverage in 2008.

Rusty Wallace will become lead analyst for studio programs in 2008, including NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily NASCAR news and information show, and will call several race telecasts in place of Jarrett.

“We now have the opportunity to provide our viewers with analysis from a pair of former Cup champions with Dale Jarrett in the booth and Rusty Wallace on the NASCAR Countdown set as well as on other platforms,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president.

Jarrett, who is retiring from driving after the first five races of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, was booth analyst for 10 Nationwide Series ESPN race telecasts last year and worked several Cup races as a guest analyst on NASCAR Countdown.

Jarrett followed the footsteps of his father, Ned, a two-time NASCAR champion, into driving and television. Ned Jarrett was a popular analyst on ESPN’s coverage of NASCAR from 1988-2000 and returned to the booth as a guest analyst for one race last year to work alongside his son for the first time.

Kyle Petty returns to racing as well as commentating in 2008 on SPEED's Tradin' Paint and during TNT's races.

The 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins the week of February 7. The Bud Shootout, a special race that includes past Bud Pole winners, starts the season on February 9. On Thursday, February 14, race participants run in one of two qualifying races. All activities culminate with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 17.

Racing Trivia Question: Which NASCAR series will Erin Crocker race in this season?

Last Week’s Question: Which Cup team will J. J. Yeley drive for in 2008? Answer: He will be in the No. 96 Toyota for Hall of Fame Racing.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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