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From Chris Snee making a valued contribution as a starter on a Super Bowl champion, to seven runners from Elk Lake joining together to form a state championship cross country team, Susquehanna County athletes again produced a series of success stories in 2008.
Snee, a Montrose graduate, was a key contributor to perhaps the most prestigious championship in all of professional sports.
The Elk Lake boys won the biggest title available to high school athletes when they captured a state championship.
After running behind Snee to convert a fourth-down situation with the game on the line, the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots, 17-14, on a 13-yard pass from Eli Manning to Plaxico Burress with 35 seconds left.
Snee continued his success in the 2008 season, leading the Giants to a National Football Conference East Division title while earning a spot as a Pro Bowl starter.
With Ryne Carney leading the way and his teammates following close enough behind, Elk Lake won the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA cross country championships.
Snee and the Warriors provided the biggest, but, not the only, highlights from the past year.
The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series with the help of 12 former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons on their playoff roster.
Juan Miranda and Chris Basak led the way as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees captured the first International League championship in franchise history when they clobbered the Durham Bulls, 20-2, to complete a three-games-to-one victory in the championship series.
Miranda went 3-for-5 with a homer and drove in six runs. Basak went 4-for-4 with four runs scored and three driven in.
Rich Thompson, another Montrose graduate, landed with the IL’s Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs as the starting center fielder and re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies organization after the season.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins reached the Calder Cup finals before losing in the championship series of the American Hockey League to the Chicago Wolves.
The Binghamton Senators played host to the AHL All-Star Classic.
In college sports, two former county softball players and a pair of wrestlers excelled on the highest level.
Whitney Williams, a shortstop from Mountain View, started in 52 of 55 at the University of Massachusetts which reached the NCAA Division I tournament and closed the season ranked 20th in the nation. Williams was a second-team Atlantic 10 all-star while batting .291 with seven home runs.
Jocelyn Dearborn, an outfielder from Blue Ridge, led the Atlantic 10 with 51 runs batted in and made the conference’s all-rookie team. She set a Fordham University freshman record with nine home runs while batting .333.
Justin Herbert from Blue Ridge was among the national leaders in pins and first-period pins at Franklin & Marshall where he finished his season by finishing sixth in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Tournament. Herbert was 27-5 with 17 pins, 14 in the first period.
Matt Panasevich from Mountain View has been in and out of the starting lineup the past two seasons at Cornell, which has climbed as high as fourth in the national rankings.
Devin Glezen, another former Blue Ridge softball player, led Lock Haven back to the NCAA Division II World Series, starting all 57 games at second base.
Joey Scanlon from Mountain View made penalty kicks in consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom League playoff shootouts to lead Misericordia University into the NCAA Division III tournament.
Katherine Lucenti , a softball pitcher from Elk Lake, was a Pennsylvania Athletic Conference all-star for Misericordia when she went 18-3 with a 1.99 ERA.
Sean Brewer from Montrose went 6-2 with a 1.06 ERA at Lackawanna College to earn a spot on the NJCAA Region 19 Division II all-star team.
In high school sports, Mountain View reached the boys’ state Class A soccer quarterfinals after being part of a District 2 championship sweep with the school’s girls’ team.
The Susquehanna boys and Forest City girls each reached the state Class A basketball tournaments.
Forest City won the Lackawanna League Division 3 boys’ soccer championship and Elk Lake won the Division 2 wrestling and Division 3 girls’ track titles with unbeaten records.
Blue Ridge lost one game then won the Lackawanna Division 3 softball title when Erin Keene threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season in a 3-0 victory over Carbondale that broke a first-place tie.
Elk Lake’s 3200-meter relay team and Blue Ridge’s 1600-meter relay team won state medals by finishing eighth in the Class AA track championships. Kimberly Caines, Lisa Ruppert, Ellen Squier and Rachel Owens formed Elk Lake’s team while Lauren Findley, Meghan Ragard, Megan Kleiner and Allison Hall formed Blue Ridge’s team. Both relay teams first won District 2 titles.
Montrose’s Cory Poepperling (pole vault) and Elk Lake’s Ryne Carney (3200) won District 2 boys’ track titles. Christy DeMichelle of Montrose won the girls’ pole vault title.
Poepperling and Hall (800) set meet records while winning Lackawanna Track Conference titles.
Montrose’s Sara Kimsey tied a record in the high jump.
Montrose’s Carmen Van Ness (discus) and DiMichelle (pole vault) also won league titles along with Blue Ridge’s Kaitchen Dearborn (javelin).
Blue Ridge’s Hall also won a district title in cross country.
Derek Noldy set Elk Lake’s career record for wrestling wins and reached the state tournament.
Blue Ridge’s Mike Pipitone (125) and Alex Stanton (140) won District 2 Class AA wrestling championships.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Kate Webster converted a three-point play with less than a minute left to put Mountain View ahead to stay in its 48-44 victory over host Blue Ridge Friday night in the Susquehanna County Christmas Tournament.
Mountain View advanced to the championship game against Elk Lake, which was scheduled to be played Monday night.
Webster picked up a loose rebound and scored the basket while being fouled.
“Then, it was just a matter of getting stops and making our foul shots,” Mountain View coach Errol Mannick said.
Webster, who had been having trouble at the foul line, went 9-for-10 while scoring a team-high 13 points. Kelsey Whitaker added 11 points.
“We couldn’t make layups all night,” Mannick said. “We missed 19 of them. We had a nice fastbreak going but we couldn’t convert.
“That’s been happening to us a lot, which is a problem for a running team.”
The Lady Eagles rallied despite 15 points by Blue Ridge’s Megan Ragard and 10 by Shayna Hettinger.
Elk Lake won the other semifinal, 45-39, over Susquehanna.
Karley Caines had 14 points and Kinzie Forkal added 10 for the Lady Warriors.
Susquehanna was led by Christy Glidden with 14 points and Hannah Price with 12.
Forest City beat Wallenpaupack, 52-50 to reach the final of the Honesdale Jaycees Tournament.
Montrose lost to host Riverside, 56-43, in the first round of the Taylor Lions Tournament.
In boys’ basketball, Elk Lake and Montrose advanced to the finals of the Susquehanna County Christmas Tournament.
Elk Lake avenged a loss in last year’s title game when it defeated Susquehanna, 55-44, as Jeff Madrak scored 28 points.
Brandon Stone led Susquehanna with 23 points.
Montrose spoiled a potential meeting of unbeatens when it destroyed Blue Ridge, 72-29.
Rob Volk scored 26 points to lead the Meteors.
Montrose and host Elk Lake were scheduled to play for the title Tuesday night.
Ian White was named Most Valuable Player after helping Forest City win the championship of the Forest City Rotary Tournament with a 68-56 victory over Mountain View.
Forest City and Mountain View reached the tournament final with comfortable wins. Forest City downed St. Rose Academy, 50-16, while Mountain View handled Western Wayne, 62-37.
Mountain View, Elk Lake and Blue Ridge opened the Lackawanna League Division 3 season with victories.
Jon McBride and Alex Pashchuk scored 16 points each to lead Mountain View to a 49-39 victory over Montrose.
The Eagles opened a 32-17 lead in the first half.
Alan Charles led the Meteors with 12 points.
Elk Lake opened defense of its division title with a 66-61 win over Forest City.
Blue Ridge remained unbeaten by downing Western Wayne, 64-35.
Lackawanna Trail defeated Susquehanna, 62-42, after opening a 21-point halftime lead.
Jake Bedford scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half for the Lions.
Stone had 16 points and Jeff Williams added 10 for the Sabers.
Marywood University’s Amanda Lass was named Colonial States Athletic Conference women’s basketball Player of the Week for the period ending December 21.
Lass had 21 points and 13 rebounds in an 83-68 victory over Delaware Valley. The sophomore center from Montrose also had five assists.
Despite coming off the bench in all seven games this season, Lass is leading the team in scoring and rebounding. She averages 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in 19.4 minutes per game.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Lackawanna League basketball play resumes after the holiday.
Montrose is at Lackawanna Trail and Forest City is at Western Wayne Friday night in Division 3 girls’ basketball in two games that will cut the list of four 1-0 teams to two 2-0 teams to share the lead.
Blue Ridge is at Mountain View Saturday in the only Division 3 boys’ game between teams that won their openers.
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
“Tiger” Tom, The Converted Yankee – “Tiger” Tom Pistone was a Chicago-area stock car racing legend in the late 1950s and early 1960s before heading to Charlotte to join the NASCAR tour and race against the likes of Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, and Buck Baker.
“Most of the drivers were from the South and they called me ‘Yankee,’” he said. “I had never finished school, because I wanted to race, and I didn’t know what a ‘Yankee’ was. Finally, someone told me if I would paint a rebel flag on the hood of my car that would take care of things.
“From then on, I was known as the ‘Converted Yankee.’”
Glenn “Fireball” Roberts once described Pistone as, “The toughest guy there is to beat on quarters and half-milers.”
"Tiger" Tom Pistone after a 1950s win at Soldier Field.
While he is not listed as One of NASCAR’S 50 Greatest Drivers, “Tiger” was probably the greatest short track driver of all time. He was about 5'3" and 130 pounds, but drivers knew not to mess with him, because he was one tough customer.
With a shoestring budget and a heart full of desire, "Tiger Tom" scored two Grand National (now Sprint Cup) victories in what can be best described as a colorful racing career.
He was born March 17, 1929. His family never dreamed he would grow up to be one of the best race car drivers to ever hit the sport.
“In 1950 I met Andy Granatelli through some of my buddies,” he said. “He was the promoter at Chicago’s Soldier Field. There was a lot of racing that went on at the time, not just NASCAR, but USAC was very big.
“A normal Soldier Field crowd would be 38,000, and whenever there would be a Police Benefit race, the crowd would go to nearly 100,000.”
Tiger’s first race was in a 1941 Ford, but he later moved to a Chevrolet. He was so competitive and had such a desire to win that he flipped his racer 22 times in one season.
Winning a Soldier Field track championship was quite an accomplishment, but “Tiger” did it five times, between 1951-55.
His first start in NASCAR competition was June 30, 1956, before a crowd of nearly 40,000 wild fans. It was a convertible race and fans watched as he held his own against NASCAR’s best.
As the laps wound down, it appeared the little man from Chicago might have a chance at winning. During lap 94 of the 100-lap race, “Tiger” stood on the gas pedal of his No. 54 Chevrolet and passed legendary Curtis Turner for the lead.
Turner tried every racing trick in the book to regain the lead, but when the checkered flag was given, it was “Tiger” that roared into victory lane.
His style of driving and success brought him many fans. One of his biggest admirers was a youngster from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, named Fred Lorenzen. As a young man, Lorenzen’s goal was to one day be as great as his hero, “Tiger Tom.”
“We went into NASCAR ice cold,” continued Pistone. “Myself and one mechanic went down to run at Martinsville. We got into Winston Salem, NC and stopped at a Golden Shell service station.
“There was a very tall man there, that turned out to be Bill France, Sr. He asked us what we were doing, and we told him we had come down to race.
“He said, ‘Well, boys, I hate to tell you this, but that race was run last week.’ Boy, were we shocked to hear that.
“France took us under his wing and allowed us to use his garage to work on our car.
“Racing wasn’t nearly as expensive back then as it is today. In 1959 you could buy a race-ready Ford from Holman-Moody for $5,500, and that included the engine.”
His two Grand National wins came May 17, 1959 at Trenton, New Jersey and June 21, 1959 at Richmond, Virginia.
“Tiger” hung up his racing helmet in 1968, and began building cars and chassis full-time for other drivers. Some of the names that drove his equipment included Jim Hurtibise, Tiny Lund, Richard Brickhouse, and Harry Gant.
He continues to furnish all types of racing parts and equipment from his shop in Charlotte, as well as help younger relatives gain prominence in NASCAR. When asked when he planned to retire, he said, “I’ve still got racing fuel in my veins, but I’m trying to sell my business so I can spend more time with my wife.”
For additional information on “Tiger Tom,” log on to his website: www.pistonetigertom.com.
Next Week: The Driver Called, “Pops.”
Southern Drivers Are Disappearing – NASCAR was born and raised in the South. The foundation of it included drivers from below the Mason-Dixie Line. Sixty years later that has all changed.
By my count, there are only 11 full-time drivers that could be considered “Southern” in the ranks of NASCAR Cup teams.
Virginia leads the list with three, Elliott Sadler, Denny Hamlin, and Jeff Burton.
Georgia has two, Reed Sorenson and David Ragan.
David Reutimann and Aric Almirola are the only Florida drivers.
It’s hard to fathom that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Brian Vickers are the only two from North Carolina.
There are no Cup drivers from Alabama, Tennessee, or South Carolina.
Arkansas’s Mark Martin and Kentucky’s Michael Waltrip are the only other Southerners.
Racing Trivia Question: How many wins did Kyle Busch get in 2008?
Last Week’s Question: Which state is Kasey Kahne from? Answer: Washington.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephanie Ficarro bagged this 200 pound, 8 point deer on December 1, 2008 when she went hunting with her dad, Michael Ficarro at his home in Nicholson, Pennsylvania.
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