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Local Sports Scene

Elk Lake’s A.J. Lunger Is Athlete of the Month
Sian Emerson Swims In Special Olympics

County Schools Enter Cooperative Agreements
By Tom Robinson

The cooperative spirit is growing among Susquehanna County high school athletic programs.

A cooperative sponsorship of boys' and girls' varsity swimming between Elk Lake and Montrose was approved by District 2 of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association during its May meeting.

Elk Lake had been the only school in the county to sponsor a swimming program. Under the agreement, students from Montrose will now be able to participate in the swimming program that is run at Elk Lake.

The move came one month after District 2 approved two new cooperative sponsorships between Susquehanna and Blue Ridge.

Susquehanna and Blue Ridge have added cooperative agreements for junior high (freshman) football and junior high soccer.

The two schools had already been working together on the varsity level with a combined football program run out of Susquehanna and combined soccer programs organized through Blue Ridge. Extending the cooperation to the junior high level in both sports gives each program a better chance to develop.


The American Hockey League Board of Directors approved several rule changes during its annual meetings which were held the last week of June at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

The AHL took several logical steps, showing cooperation with the National Hockey League in the process.

During the regular season, the league will test one-minute minor penalties during the five-minute overtime periods. In their current form, two-minute minor penalties in overtime often seem to be too harsh a penalty, which in turn seems to make referees reluctant to make calls.

If the one-minute minor in overtime works well, it is a rule change that could be made in the NHL in the future.

The AHL adjusted two of its rules to match the NHL.

Rosters will be set at 18 skaters for each game during the regular season. The AHL has held to 17 for the regular season in recent years, making it impossible for a coach to use both four full forward lines and three pairs of defensemen.

The AHL will reinstate the controversial automatic delay of game penalty against any player who clears the puck over the glass and out of play from his defensive zone.

The league also changed the wording of its icing rule to state, "Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck." The change could make the game safer by eliminating unnecessary – and often unexpected – contact.


Binghamton Mets outfielder Fernando Martinez has been selected to play for the World team in the All-Star Futures Game Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

Martinez, a 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic, came to the B-Mets after getting off to a torrid start with the organization's Gulf Coast League team this season. Martinez was 6-for-13 (.462) in four games before receiving the promotion to Class AA.

With Binghamton, Martinez pushed his season batting average over .300 with a hot streak that extended before and after an injury. Martinez was 11-for-22 (.500) in six games May 7-14 before leaving the lineup. When he returned, he extended the hitting streak to nine games by going 7-for-12 (.583) in his first three games back June 27-29. Those three games raised his average to .302 in 40 games on the season.

Martinez also spent time in Binghamton last year, batting .271 in 60 games.

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

Kyle Busch Wins Under Caution, Daytona Beach, FL – Kyle Busch got his sixth Cup win of the season Saturday night as he emerged from the smoke of a series of late-race accidents to win the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Kyle Busch celebrates his Saturday night win at Daytona.

Busch, the series point leader, was a half-car-length ahead of Carl Edwards when a multi-car accident brought out the caution and froze the field during a green/white/checkered finish.

“Man, I can’t believe that we are here right now,” said Busch. “We didn’t have the best car tonight, but these guys never gave up and we didn’t give up out there on the track.”

Jeff Gordon led 46 laps and it seemed like he was headed to his first victory of the season. With four laps remaining in the 160-lap race, Busch pulled inside of Gordon for the lead just seconds before a wreck brought out another caution.

This set up the green/white checkered finish with Busch leading and Gordon second.

Carl Edwards got into the back of Gordon’s No. 24, sending him spinning into the infield grass, but racing continued under green.

Edwards, with Matt Kenseth, his teammate pushing him, went high trying to get around Busch, but he never got the chance to complete the pass. A multi-car wreck behind them brought out the race’s final caution and froze the field.

“I just wish we could have raced a little bit longer,” Edwards said. “That would have been great. Man, I'd have given anything if we could have run at least to the end of the back straightaway, but that's the way it went.”

Jeff Gordon finished 30th.

“Everybody was laying back and trying to get a run on the restart,” said Gordon. “They tried to run on me and I tried to block them. I’m more mad I let the 18 car get by me when I tried to go on the high side. I’m probably more mad at myself than anything else.”

Tony Stewart’s bad luck continued at Daytona. A virus that he contracted Friday zapped his strength, and he was replaced as driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet after only 72 laps by J. J. Yeley.

Stewart had received three bottles of intravenous fluids from the infield car center prior to the race, but was unable to continue racing. Yeley’s 20th place finish dropped Stewart to 11th in the Chase standings.

Ryan Newman and Paul Menard were two other drivers that saw their hopes get busted.

Menard, the race’s polesitter got rear-ended and wound up 15th, while Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 winner, was spun out by Jamie McMurray early and finished 36th.

Robby Gordon’s sixth-place finish was his best of the season.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran strong, but at the end got shuffled back to an eighth-place finish.

Top 10 finishers: 1. Kyle Busch, 2. Carl Edwards, 3. Matt Kenseth, 4. Kurt Busch, 5. David Ragan, 6. Robby Gordon, 7. Kasey Kahne, 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 9. Clint Bowyer, 10. Mark Martin.

Top 10 Chase contenders after 18 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch-2686, 2. Earnhardt-2504, 3. Burton-2484, 4. Edwards-2437, 5. Johnson-2319, 6. J. Gordon-2249, 7. Hamlin-2240, 8. Kahne-2177, 9. Kenseth-2166, 10. Bowyer-2159.

Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders after 19 of 35: 1. Bowyer-2814, 2. Keselowski-2612, 3. Edwards-2596, 4. Reutimann-2588, 5. Ragan-2489, 6. Bliss-2473, 7. Kyle Busch-2438, 8. M. Wallace-2273, 9. Stremme-2231, 10. Keller-2157.

Martin To Run For 2009 Championship, Daytona Beach, FL – Mark Martin, a 35-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner, has signed a two-year agreement to drive the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet next season. The first year will be full-time, with him winding up as a part-time driver in 2010.

“I make no apologies for not knowing what my whole life holds for me,” Mark Martin said Friday after signing with Hendrick Motorsports. “One reason I might appear as indecisive is that you guys (the press) ask questions before I am really ready to answer them, and I am such a nice guy that I try to answer them.”

Martin walked away from Jack Roush’s No. 6 team at the end of the 2006 season, saying that he was worn out emotionally and physically, and wanted to spend more time with his family.

He finished 10th Saturday night at Daytona.

The Pulse Of NASCAR – The country’s poor economic situation bolstered in part by high gasoline prices are having a small effect on the fans that attend weekend races. While fan attendance at most tracks is down 10-15 per cent, the television ratings are up.

Fans are still watching NASCAR races. It’s just that more of them are watching from their living room than they are from the track.

“It’s just gotten too expensive for us,” said Lew Driskell of High Point, NC. “There were usually six of us that went in our SUV, but this year one of the other couples decided they couldn’t afford it, so we all stayed home.

“We still had fun. We pitched in, got some food and beer and grilled in the backyard. Then we all sat in front of the TV. It wasn’t quite as good as being there, but hey, it was more fun than golf.”

Last week Chevrolet announced they would not renew track sponsorships, but no race teams are expected to be impacted by the decision.

If Chevrolet does slip out of sight a little, Toyota is already stepping up their presence in NASCAR. It’s much like what happened back in the early 1960s, when Chevrolet dropped out for awhile.

Chip Ganassi Racing shut down the No. 40 Cup team last week, driven by Dario Franchitti. But this was a team that started the season without a full-time sponsor, and even though Franchitti hurt his ankle and missed several races, it was a very weak team from the start.

I believe most of the slowdown, if it can be called that, is due to the weak economy. Once the economy gets straightened out, things will perk back up. Don’t expect gasoline prices to fall, but over a period of time, race fans will adjust.

Maybe track attendance will fall even more, but I believe the fans will continue to be involved in the sport. They will still root for their favorite driver and buy their merchandise.

Meanwhile, NASCAR is in discussions to put the Grand American Road Racing Association’s Rolex Sports Car Series under the NASCAR banner.

In talking with race fans, at the track, on the telephone, and through e-mails, I do not get the impression they are deserting NASCAR. It’s a time when everyone has to make adjustments.

I believe NASCAR is doing well, and has a solid future.

Next Week: 50 Years of Petty Racing.


The Nationwide and Nextel Cup teams are at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until July 25.

Friday, July 11, Nationwide Series Power General 300, 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN.

Saturday, July 12, Nextel Cup LIFELOCK.COM 400, 6:30 p.m. TV: TNT.

Racing Trivia Question: Which track hosts the first Chase race of the season?

Last Week’s Question: Who drives the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota? Answer: Dave Blaney.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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Elk Lake’s A.J. Lunger Is Athlete of the Month
By Tom Robinson

A.J. Lunger is not sure whether his baseball career will extend into college.

As he starts his college career as a student, however, Lunger is taking extra steps to continue playing the game.

Lunger, who reported to Bloomsburg University in late June, makes the trip home on weekends and continues to play for the Black Walnut American Legion team.

The all-star shortstop from Elk Lake is one of the leaders of the team, which combines players from the Elk Lake and Lackawanna Trail school districts and has the best record among Legion teams with players from Susquehanna County.

Lunger is hitting .379 (11-for-29), including three doubles and two triples, and has two saves as a relief pitcher. The highlight of the first month of the Legion season was a 4-for-4 outing when Black Walnut was handing Hawley its first loss of the season.

For his efforts, Lunger is the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.

"They have me hitting at the top of the order so they want me getting on base as much as I can," said Lunger, who is considering trying out as a walk-on at Bloomsburg, a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II school.

Lunger usually plays shortstop and bats second, just as he did at Elk Lake while earning Lackawanna League Division 3 first-team, all-star honors as a senior this spring.

"I like the leadership that goes with playing shortstop," said Lunger, who handled the position the last two years with the Warriors where he was a four-year starter. "You're in control more and I like that."

Lunger was a three-sport starter at Elk Lake since his sophomore year. He started in two sports – soccer and baseball – as a freshman before adding basketball the next year. He was a second-team baseball all-star as a junior and a second-team basketball all-star as a senior.

A.J. is the son of Atwood and Janet Lunger of Dimock.

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Sian Emerson Swims In Special Olympics

Sian Emerson of Great Bend participated as a member of the swim team of Area P in the State Games of Special Olympics at Penn State University, June 5-8. Sian was a member of a girls’ medley relay team that earned a gold medal. Her specialty for the relay was the butterfly stroke. Sian earned a silver medal for the 50-meter breast stroke, and a bronze for the 50-meter freestyle race. Sian placed fourth in the 100-meter individual medley.

Pictured (l-r) are the members of the Area P swim team that participated in the Special Olympics events held at Penn State University: back row – Josh, Sian, Ashley; front row – Amanda, James, Matt, Nicole, Victor, Kayla, Jessica.

Area P sent teams in bowling, golf, tennis, track and field, and swimming to this state meet. Area P sponsored an ice cream social one night and a pizza party one night. Special Olympics hosted a night of field games and a dance, besides the opening and closing ceremonies. Many community groups help with sponsoring Healthy Athlete programs for vision, dental, feet, ears, and general wellness. There are also games to play, pets to adore, food to eat, and pictures to be taken. It is four days packed with activity and competition for the athletes, coaches, and volunteers. Her coaches for this year were Jean Sandberg, Joe Paladino, and Connie Tichenor.

Sian practiced with the Area P team at Delaware Valley High School and has taken lessons at the Binghamton YWCA. She attends school at the Allied Services de Paul School in Scranton, PA. Her parents are Bob and Bonnie Emerson of Great Bend.

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