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The Elk Lake boys’ cross country team reached the ultimate prize available to high school athletes, but the Warriors were not the only Susquehanna County team to find success in the recently completed fall season.
Elk Lake went from second in the District 2 Class AA Championships to first in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. The Warriors avenged their district loss to Holy Redeemer and beat out three other teams in a close race that left the results of the team race in suspense long after the runners finished.
“I told our guys whoever wins is not going to be very far ahead,” Squier said. “Anything could happen.”
Elk Lake edged four other teams, posting a score of 138 to beat out Quaker Valley (140), North East (144), Holy Redeemer (168) and York Suburban (172).
“We prepped for the course and how to run the course,” Squier said of Hersheypark where the Warriors had run in an invitational earlier in the season. “Our guys kept their mind on the course and did the best possible job in every aspect of the race.”
Ryne Carney led the way, finishing 27th overall.
Mike Bedell, Tyler Williams, Brent Salsman and Sean Carney all finished in the top 100.
It was not immediately clear that the Warriors had won or how they won, but a post-race analysis allowed Squier to see that his team succeeded in maintaining its strength throughout the race to the state title.
“At runhigh.com, the people who scored the race, they have a breakdown,” Squier said. “You can see we were in fifth at the mile and (North East) was way out in front.
“At two miles, we were second and (North East) was still in first by quite a bit.
“In that last mile, North East really lost it and Quaker Valley, which had been six behind us, got to within two points. You can score the race that way now with the chip technology.”
The technology showed a different approach than a year ago when Elk Lake was fifth after a mile, but wound up 11th in the state.
“Our guys ran a smart race,” Squier said. “It was really fun to see our guys mature.
“They kept their focus and put into action the plan that we had in place.”
Elk Lake also won the Lackawanna League Class AA title with a 21-1 record.
Blue Ridge won the Lackawanna Class AA girls’ cross country title by going 20-2 before finishing second in the district to earn a state berth. Allison Hall led the way by winning the district individual title.
Mountain View swept soccer titles by winning boys’ and girls’ championship games in the same doubleheader at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
The Lady Eagles won the Class AA championship in a shootout after a double-overtime scoreless tie with Montrose. Mountain View also won the Lackawanna League Northern Division title by going 11-1.
The Eagles won the district Class A boys' championship.
Forest City went unbeaten in the regular season to win the Lackawanna Division 3 boys’ soccer title.
The Montrose golf team and Susquehanna girls’ volleyball teams had strong seasons while falling just short of championships.
Montrose went 10-1 to finish second in the Lackawanna North.
Susquehanna was 12-4 to take third in the Lackawanna League before reaching the District 2 Class A championship match.
In football, Susquehanna sophomore quarterback Dan Kempa recovered from a tough start to become a 1,000-yard rusher.
Kempa ran an offense that, after scoring just one touchdown each in a pair of disappointing losses to start the season, averaged 31.9 points for the final eight games while helping the Sabers post three wins.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Binghamton Senators and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins traded home-ice victories on consecutive nights when the American Hockey League rivals met for the first two times this season.
Binghamton used goals 23 seconds apart in the third period Friday night to post a 4-2 victory.
The teams were tied, 2-2, until Denis Hamel scored eight seconds into a power play with 11:34 remaining.
Danny Bois followed with the clincher.
Brian Elliot made 28 saves in the win.
Adam Berkhoel’s second straight shutout and third in his last four games lifted the Penguins to a 3-0 victory Saturday.
Berkhoel made 27 saves to move into the league lead in shutouts.
In high school field hockey, Wyoming Seminary won its second state Class AA title in three years when it defeated Merion Mercy, 3-2, Saturday.
The Knights, who suffered their only loss against Lackawanna Trail, won the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 and District 2 Class AA titles.
In high school football, Riverside remained as the only unbeaten in District 2 when it won the district Class A championship game, 48-21, over Old Forge behind 164 yards and four touchdowns rushing by Joe Klebon.
Joey Scanlon came through in penalty kick shootouts both days as the Misericordia University men’s soccer team survived tiebreakers in both rounds to win the MAC Freedom Conference title and claim a berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament.
Scanlon made his shot in the semifinals when Misericordia beat Eastern, 4-2, in penalty kicks after the teams played to a scoreless tie through two overtimes.
Against Wilkes in the final, Misericordia won, 5-4, in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie. Scanlon, a sophomore forward/midfielder from Mountain View, was again one of the successful shooters.
The Cougars were eliminated in the first round of NCAA play with a 1-0 loss to Cortland State.
Scanlon started all 19 games he played in as the Cougars went 14-4-3. He was tied for third on the team with five assists and also scored three goals and was selected as a second-team conference all-star.
Stan Vitzakovitch, a freshman forward from Forest City, appeared in four games for Misericordia.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Dunmore and Riverside are the last two Lackawanna Football Conference teams standing in the state playoffs.
Dunmore will play Wilkes-Barre GAR for the District 2 Class AA championship.
Riverside will meet Southern Columbia in a Class A state playoff game.
Our predictions for last week were 4-0, bringing our playoff record to 11-1 (91.7 percent) and our season record to 112-16 (87.5 percent).
This week’s predictions: Dunmore 33, GAR 17; Riverside 26, Southern Columbia 24.
While football teams continue with the last of the fall high school sports, winter teams are in their first official week of preparation. Basketball, wrestling and swimming teams began practice Monday.
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 Wins, But Johnson Is Champ, Homestead, FL – Carl Edwards led the most laps, stretched the fuel mileage in his No. 99 Ford, and did everything he needed to do on the way to his ninth Cup win of the season, Sunday at Miami-Homestead Speedway, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Jimmie Johnson for the 2008 Sprint Cup Championship.
Jimmie Johnson, the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.
“I know we didn’t win the championship this season, but everyone on the team did such a great job,” said Edwards. “We did win the most races, and I want to thank all my friends for putting up with me through the thick and thin, and when I get a little crazy.
“Second-place in the championship isn’t what we came here for. The last few races have been really fun. We knew we were at a disadvantage after those two races where we lost a lot of points. Anybody out there that is shooting for something can’t lose if you give it 100 per cent.
“At least we can lay our heads down tonight and know that we won some races, gave it our best effort and got beat by a true champion.”
Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Travis Kvapil, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart, and Martin Truex, Jr. were the top-10 finishers.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ended the season with a DNF. He pulled his No. 88 behind the wall with 16 laps to go and was credited with a 41st place finish.
“We burned a wheel bearing up and it tore up the brake caliper,” said Earnhardt. “There wasn’t any sense going back out and wrecking ourselves, and maybe someone else.”
Jimmie Johnson became only the second driver in NASCAR Cup history to win three consecutive championships. Cale Yarborough did it in 1976, ’77, ’78. Johnson’s margin of victory was 69 points over Edwards.
“We really got off to a slow start and had to work hard to get back into the championship picture,” said Johnson. “This is what I work my whole life for, winning races.”
Final top 10 Sprint Cup Standings: 1. Johnson-6684, 2. Edwards-6615, 3. Biffle-6467, 4. Harvick-6408, 5. Bowyer-6381, 6. Burton-6335, 7. J. Gordon-6316, 8. Hamlin-6214, 9. Stewart-6202, 10. Kyle Busch-6186.
Bowyer Is Nationwide Champ – Clint Bowyer won the 2008 Nationwide Series title by 21 points ahead of Carl Edwards.
Final top 10 finishers: 1. Bowyer-5132, 2. Edwards-5111, 3. Keselowski-4794, 4. Ragan-4525, 5. Bliss-4518, 6. Kyle Busch-4461, 7. Reutimann-4388, 8. M. Wallace-4128, 9. Leffler-4086, 10. Ambrose-3991.
Benson Wins Truck Title – Johnny Benson finished one spot ahead of Ron Hornaday in the season finale truck race at Homestead, FL, to claim the title by seven points.
Final top 10 leaders: 1. Benson-3725, 2. Hornaday-3718, 3. Bodine-3621, 4. Darnell-3412, 5. Crafton-3392, 6. Skinner-3363, 7. Crawford-3315, 8. Setzer-3197, 9. Sprague-3125, 10. Cook-3072.
Surprises And Disappointments – The biggest surprise and disappointment of the 2008 racing season has been the downward spiral of the economy, and its effect on every NASCAR race team.
The garage talk at Homestead was dominated by merger-and-acquisition rumors as teams fight for the right short-term and long-term strategies to stay afloat. Questions about car counts and attendance loom over a sport that has been riding a wave of prosperity.
Rex White, who won the 1960 Cup championship, long before NASCAR was a mainstream sport, said some things never change, especially for the have-not teams.
“We had a problem with money every day, every week, with meeting payroll or winning enough money to race on and being able to finance the car and buy the pieces and parts that you need to go there and win the race,” White said.
“So money is always a big problem when you race. Racing has never really paid its way properly, maybe until today. Not even today. Without the sponsors, they couldn't even race today.
“But I think it'll go on and NASCAR will survive it, because people that are race fans, they'll come to see some kind of racing. It might not be the same as it is today, but racing will continue on.”
White said he's ''a little bit jealous'' of the money being made now, with Jimmie Johnson's expected $15 million 2008 earnings making White's $46,000 income 48 years ago look like lunch money.
Johnson just won his third consecutive championship for Rick Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson owns and travels around in a $9.5-million Gulfstream G150 executive jet. It is the eighth title for Hendrick, who also operates a multitude of General Motors dealerships.
“We’ve had some cutbacks,” said Hendrick, who operates four Cup teams and one Nationwide team. “It’s all sponsor-driven. We will be cutting back on some of our programs, and there will be personnel changes, but it will be business as usual, just a little smaller.”
The thinking for the past decade has been that NASCAR racing was relatively immune to outside problems.
Ganassi Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. completed a merger last week that will hopefully make them able to survive the lean times. The merger resulted in 115 people being terminated. Many other teams are operating within a bubble that is likely to burst at any time.
In an effort to reduce team costs, NASCAR officials announced last week that testing has been suspended for 2009 at any NASCAR touring series track that runs a Cup, Nationwide, or Truck race. This includes all preseason testing at Daytona in January.
Each test day normally costs a team about one hundred thousand dollars. NASCAR said it would save the industry tens of millions of dollars.
Previously, the sanctioning body had cancelled testing of the new Nationwide Series car, citing the increased costs to teams. No word when it will be implemented.
“This is an unprecedented time in NASCAR,” said Bobby Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. “It makes sense that NASCAR had to do something different to try and help the teams. They can’t control the cost of the teams and what they spend, but I hope NASCAR can help control a major chunk until the storm is over – hopefully this rule will accomplish that.”
JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Jr. recently laid off 15 people in their Nationwide shop.
“When we merged the 88 and 5 cars together, we were entirely too big,” he said. “But we didn’t want to lay off a bunch of people that were dedicated.
“We were employing more people than we needed to do the job we were trying to do.”
Junior said the team was living beyond its means and had lost about $2 million.
While the financial picture for many teams might be cloudy, there are several drivers that have reason to rejoice.
Carl Edwards finished number two behind Johnson, but the Columbia, Missouri driver put on several good driving shows on the way to nine wins. His confrontation with Kevin Harvick added luster to a sometimes lackluster season.
While Edwards lost his bid for the 2008 Cup championship, he is a winner off the track. He announced that he had become engaged to his hometown girlfriend.
Michael Waltrip and his team of drivers didn’t fare well.
Nationwide Series driver Bobby Hamilton, Jr. put up $300,000 of his own money to keep the Rensi Motorsports team afloat for the final races of the season after the sponsor, Smithfield Foods pulled out.
Perhaps the biggest driver disappointment was Kyle Busch. Winner of 8 of the first 22 races, Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs team fizzled once the Chase began.
Despite his mediocre Chase finish, there are many fans who believe he should be named “Driver of The Year.”
Other drivers that might be “lost” for next season include Joe Nemechek, Regan Smith, J. J. Yeley, Dave Blaney, Michael McDowell, along with several others from small or partially-funded teams.
Next Week: 2008 Winners and Losers.
Racing Trivia Question: Who do you think was the “Most Improved Driver of 2008?” Tell us why you think your driver was the most improved. If we use it in our column, we’ll send you an 8X10 photo of him. Mail to: The Racing Reporter, P O Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36619. Send e-mails to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Week’s Question: In 1950, Curtis Turner and a co-driver entered a 1950 Nash Ambassador in the Pan American Road Race. Who was Turner’s driving partner? Answer: Turner’s driving partner was Bill France, Sr.
Three recent releases bring the total of books written by Tom Robinson now in print to a dozen.
The Susquehanna native and Susquehanna County Transcript sports editor is the author of three new sports books.
ABDO Publishing Company of Edina, Minn. published “Performance-Enhancing Drugs” and “Sportsmanship in Youth Athletics” from its Essential Viewpoints series.
Enslow Publishers of Berkeley Heights, N.J. released “Basketball Skills: How to Play Like a Pro.”
According to the ABDO website, “Essential Viewpoints examines critical debates occurring today, including the legislation that has shaped the issue as well as the numerous sides of each argument.” The 112-page books are created as resources for middle school and high school students.
Enslow’s Play Like a Pro Series includes 48-page books on baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, hockey and soccer. The 48-page books are created for elementary school readers.
Robinson, who writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript, has completed three other manuscripts that are in the production stage, and is currently in the process of writing two more books.
Information on ordering the books can be found at www.abdopub.com and www.enslow.com.
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