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Elk Lake’s Derek Noldy survived an overtime struggle in the 171-pound consolation finals of the Class AA Northeast Regional Wrestling Championships Saturday night in Williamsport to qualify for a spot in the state wrestling championships.
The top three Northeast Regional finishers in each weight class advance to Hershey for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament.
Noldy was the only Susquehanna County wrestler with a chance to advance when the consolation finals started Saturday.
To advance, Noldy needed to produce a second win over Towanda’s Jake Lamphere, who entered the tournament with a 41-4 record.
Noldy beat Lamphere, 8-4, in Friday night’s quarterfinals. In the rematch, Noldy (33-7) posted an 8-6 overtime decision.
Noldy went 3-1 on the weekend. He lost, 13-4, to Line Mountain’s Jon Fausey, a defending state champion, in the semifinals and picked up a forfeit win over Midd-West’s Chris Baker in the consolation semifinals.
Only three of the 10 county wrestlers who reached Williamsport managed to win a match.
District 2 champion Alex Stanton of Blue Ridge and D.J. Brown of Montrose joined Noldy in winning Friday night to reach the semifinals.
Stanton opened the tournament with a 5-1 win over Brandon Kutz from regional team champion Canton at 140 pounds.
Stanton’s hopes of reaching the state tournament ended with two straight losses on Saturday, the second coming by injury default.
Midd-West’s Ty Knepp beat Stanton, 6-0, in the semifinals. Stanton had to default against Montoursville’s Eli Rusczyk three minutes into the consolation semifinals.
Brown decisioned Ammon Swisher of Hughesville, 5-1, Friday night. He lost to unbeaten District 4 champion Kasey Lyon of Canton, 9-2, then dropped an 8-7 decision to Shamokin’s Nick Domanski.
Elk Lake’s Anthony Juser (152) was the only wrestler to go the distance in each bout among the seven from the county who lost two straight.
Susquehanna’s Josh Jenkins (215) and Montrose’s Mike Rihl (145) each lost by a pin and a close decision.
Blue Ridge 125-pounder Mike Pipitone lost a major decision and a technical fall.
Elk Lake’s Cory Benscoter lost a pin and major decision at 119. Teammate Derek Green lost by a technical fall and a forfeit.
Blue Ridge’s Nik Decker (130) was pinned twice.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Susquehanna boys and Forest City girls each lost to District 4 champions and were eliminated in the first round of the PIAA Class A basketball playoffs.
North Penn downed Susquehanna, 59-48.
Northeast Bradford defeated Forest City, 52-43.
Both teams kept the games close, particularly in the first half.
Susquehanna was within a point at the break while Forest City was within three.
Kyle Atkinson and Jessie Kriner each scored 24 points while leading North Penn (27-1) to its 26th straight win.
Atkinson hit two 3-pointers to start a run that opened the lead to 15 in the third quarter.
Kriner hit six straight free throws to help expand a seven-point lead in the final two minutes.
Brent Keyes scored 23 points and Kirk Fallon added 14 for Susquehanna.
Kylee Moore scored 18 points to lead the Northeast Bradford girls (25-3).
Amanda Collins had a game-high 20 points and Cassie Erdmann added 14 for Forest City.
Both games were played Saturday after being postponed because of snow Friday.
In swimming, Elk Lake finished ninth of 11 boys’ teams and 11th of 17 girls’ teams in the District 2 Class AA Championships.
The Elk Lake boys closed the event with a fifth-place finish by the 400 meter relay team of Jehiel Boner, Tom DiMichele, Chris Wilmarth and Ben Phillips.
Robbie Johnson and Matt Hornak were Misericordia University's top two scorers in what might have been the team's last game of the season.
Misericordia lost, 82-65, to Immaculata in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference semifinals, leaving the team with an 18-9 record and waiting to hear whether it was selected for the ECAC Championships.
Johnson had 14 points while Hornak had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Hornak, a 6-foot-3 senior forward from Montrose, started all 27 games and led the team with 6.7 rebounds per game. He was the third-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game.
Johnson, a 6-foot freshman guard from Mountain View, came off the bench in 26 games. He was sixth on the team with 5.7 points per game.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The PIAA Wrestling Championships are scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The top 16 Class AA wrestlers in each weight class in the state will compete for the medals that go to the top eight places.
The first steps toward the craze that is March Madness will take place just across the border in Vestal when Binghamton University hosts the first three rounds of the America East men’s basketball tournament Friday through Sunday.
The America East format cuts the field from nine to two teams with the play in Binghamton then moves on to a championship game at the home site of the highest remaining seed.
Maine and Stony Brook, the bottom two seeds, meet in a single game Friday night.
Regular-season champion Maryland-Baltimore County and host Binghamton are also in the event, along with Albany, Vermont, Hartford, Boston University and New Hampshire.
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
Edwards Gets Second Cup Win, Las Vegas, NV – For the second consecutive week Carl Edwards was in victory lane. He followed up last week’s victory at California with a win over Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The win was the ninth of his career, and it moved him into the Sprint Cup points lead for the first time in his career.
Carl Edwards prepares to celebrate his Las Vegas win.
“This was a very special win,” said Edwards. “I was just trying to hold off Dale there at the end. This is an amazing couple of weeks.”
Edwards now holds a 21-point cushion over Kyle Busch in the standings after following up Monday's win at California.
On the way to victory, Edwards had to overcome a NASCAR penalty. During a pit stop on lap 109 of the 267-lap race, one of his crewmen let a tire get away and roll across pit road.
Because of NASCAR rules, Edwards had to go to the tail end of the field. It took him until lap 190 to work his way back up to the second position.
During another pit stop, it appeared to be deja vu all over, as another tire got away from his crew. But this time, NASCAR ruled that a television cameraman had interfered, and Edwards was allowed to remain in second-place when the race went green on lap 247.
On lap 249, Edwards passed his teammate, Matt Kenseth for the lead. Two laps later, Dale Earnhardt passed Kenseth for second. With 11 laps to go, Kurt Busch blew a tire, and hit the outside wall, bringing out another caution.
On the restart, Earnhardt spun his tires. This allowed Kenseth and Jeff Gordon to get by him. Gordon was down low, and Kenseth went high. After clearing Earnhardt, Gordon slid up the track into Kenseth.
Gordon spun and rammed the inside retaining wall very hard.
“I really didn’t want to be on the inside, because my car was a little too tight,” said Gordon. “I got into the gas and drifted up into Matt. I really hate it, but that was probably the hardest hit I’ve ever taken.”
This brought out a red flag and the race was stopped while speedway crews cleaned up the mess of debris on the track.
When the green flag was given, there were only two laps remaining. Edwards got a good restart and went on to victory lane by a half-second over Earnhardt.
“It was frustrating,” said Earnhardt. “I had worked my tires up real good. I had the car about where I wanted it, but that last red flag killed us. The car was good on long runs, but we couldn’t do anything with Carl in a couple laps.”
Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, David Ragan, Kasey Kahne, Travis Kvapil, Denny Hamlin, and Mark Martin rounded out the top-10.
In addition to Gordon, two other former champions had problems.
Tony Stewart had a right front tire blow on lap 109. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver complained of pain from his waist down after emerging from the care center.
“That’s the hardest one I’ve taken in a long time,” said Stewart, who fell from fourth to 11th in the points standings. “It just blew a right front, I guess. I mean it didn’t try to turn or anything.”
Jimmie Johnson didn’t experience any hard wrecks, his team just missed the setup on his No. 48 and he finished 29th.
Top-10 Chase leaders: 1. Edwards-491, 2. Kyle Busch-470, 3. Newman-450, 4. Kahne-440, 5. Harvick-428, 6. Biffle-427, 7. Burton-421, 8. Truex-371, 9. Sadler-368, 10. Earnhardt-361.
Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders: 1. Stewart-472, 2. Kyle Busch-430, 3. Harvick-430, 4. Edwards-415, 5. Ragan-409, 6. Bowyer-396, 7. Reutimann-369, 8. M. Wallace-357, 9. Franchitti-344, 10. Coleman-329.
Edwards Outduels Johnson In California, Fontana, CA – Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford won the rain-delayed Auto Club 500 on Monday, February 25. Edwards took the lead from defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on lap 237 of the 250 lap race.
Johnson was the leader after the final round of pit stops with 26 laps left. Edwards came out third, but he clearly had the fastest car, as he went on to capture the eighth victory of his career.
The race ended under caution when Dale Jarrett spun on the final lap, but it didn’t matter because Edwards had a lead of more than four seconds over Johnson.
Jeff Gordon, who dominated Sunday's race, was third. He was followed by Kyle Busch and Edwards’ teammate Matt Kenseth, winner of the two previous February races at California.
Martin Truex, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10 finishers.
The Auto Club 500 was red-flagged after 87 laps on Sunday due to inclement weather. Efforts to dry the track were halted on Monday at 2 a.m. The race resumed on Monday afternoon with Lap 88.
Despite two early spin-outs that resulted from wet track conditions involving five cars, forty-one of the 43 starters were running when the race was halted.
Top-10 Chase drivers after 2 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch-335, 2. Newman-329, 3. Stewart-316, 4. Kurt Busch-299, 5. Edwards-296, 6. Kahne-294, 7. Harvick-268, 8. Johnson-267, 9. Biffle-262, 10. J. Burton-261.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 2 of 24; 1. Kyle Busch-365, 2. Bodine-345, 3. Benson-340, 4. Starr-284, 5. Crawford-281, 6. McGilton-261, 7. McCumbie-254, 8. Setzer-254, 9. Hornaday-253, 10. Compton-250.
Is NASCAR Serious About Regaining The Core Fan? The fans just might be the forgotten heroes of NASCAR.
NASCAR’s head man, Brian France, said at the start of the 2008 season, the sanctioning body is about to get back to its roots.
It’s about time. There is a general sense that some of the older fans – the ones who helped grow the sport – are being left behind and that NASCAR management doesn't care about them.
For the past several seasons, many fans complained about changes; the Chase for the Championship, the length of races, the Car of Tomorrow, the starting time of races, NASCAR’s wishy washy attitude, and more.
France said some of the changes were good, and necessary, and some, like the title of the series, were out of his hands. But, he admitted that too much change can be a problem, too.
“We certainly are proud we've been able to attract new fans virtually every year NASCAR has been in existence,” France said. “But we're also proud of those fans that have been with us for many decades.”
Like life itself, everything about racing; the money, the crowds, the drivers, and the television coverage is more complicated than it was just a few years ago.
“I think NASCAR has grown to the point where all the decisions have a bigger ripple effect,” said Kyle Petty. “Success and failure happen on a much grander scale, and much faster.
“We can talk about everything, but until they establish a solid plan and work that plan, then we’re wasting our breath.”
Petty went on to say that he believes NASCAR might be trying to please the fans, the media, and sponsors, and they are not pleasing anyone.
There have been several open-wheel drivers that have gained a fair share of publicity, yet it remains to be seen if they will be accepted by NASCAR’s traditional fan base. The core group of fans tends to side with the drivers who fit into the known, or “home town” image.
NASCAR is committed to diversifying their ranks of drivers in an attempt to globalize the sport. But will this work in the United States?
“I’ve been in racing a long time, and I’m certainly a traditionalist,” said owner Bill Davis. “I don’t think NASCAR is going to move that far from the fan base. Hopefully, we’ll just grow it.”
During the off season NASCAR made several commercials promoting the return to their roots. These 30-second spots will be aired during the 2008 racing season. If the promises turn out to be true, it will be welcome news for the fans. If it is just slick public relations, then the traditional fan is sure to be disappointed, and will continue looking for another sport.
If NASCAR can start the races between 12 noon and 1 p.m., stop fining drivers for small infractions, stop making up the rules as they go, stop one or two teams from dominating the races, and build some tracks that have good racing throughout the event, then I’m sure the older fans will come back.
It is the older fans that brought NASCAR to its present level. I’m glad they are beginning to realize they are still very important to the sport.
Next Week: Joe Weatherly, NASCAR’s Happy-Go-Lucky Driver.
All three of NASCAR’s major series will be at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Friday, March 7: Craftsman Truck Series (3 of 25), 8:30 p.m. TV: Speed.
Saturday, March 8: Nationwide Series Nicorette 300 (4 of 35), 1:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, March 9: Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 (4 of 36), 1:30 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Travis Kvapil is a former Truck champion. Who is he driving for in 2008?
Last Week’s Question: Name the two former champions that are driving for Kevin Harvick in the Craftsman Truck Series. Ron Hornaday and Jack Sprague.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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