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Justin Herbert’s college wrestling career was in danger of coming to an end when he finished sixth at 174 pounds in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships.
National Collegiate Athletic Association officials had other ideas.
Herbert was rewarded for a standout career when the Franklin & Marshall senior was one of 52 wrestlers selected to receive at-large bids and join the other 278 qualifiers at the NCAA Division I Championships in St. Louis.
The Blue Ridge graduate closed out his career on college wrestling’s biggest stage when he dropped a pair of matches Thursday.
Herbert became the first Diplomat to qualify for the tournament in 11 years, concluding his career with an 82-39 record and a school record for pins with 35.
Michigan State’s Ian Hinton eliminated Herbert with a 6-2 decision.
“Justin wrestled a tough match tonight,” Franklin & Marshall coach Pete Schuyler said in a story on the school’s Web site. “He didn’t get it done, but he has re-opened the door for the program and others on the team to follow. I am proud of how he wrestled today and throughout his career.”
As an at-large qualifier, Herbert had a tough draw.
Following one preliminary bout that trimmed the bracket from 33 to 32 wrestlers, Herbert was on the mat in the first full round against unbeaten top seed Steve Luke of Michigan.
Luke put Herbert in danger of a pin with a five-point move in the first period on the way to an 11-0 victory.
Hinton had more trouble before securing his win.
A pair of takedowns by Hinton, with a Herbert escape in between, made the score, 4-1, after one period.
Hinton boosted the lead to 5-1 with a second-period escape.
Herbert scored with another escape in the third period, but Hinton had enough riding time to pick up the bonus point and the 6-2 decision.
Herbert became the first Franklin & Marshall wrestler to appear in the tournament since Brendan James, a 150-pounder, did so in 1998.
Blue Ridge’s Tim Esposito and Elk Lake’s Anthony Juser provided the Lackawanna League with half of its points in the Wilkes-Barre East Rotary District 2 All-Star Duals at Wyoming Area High School.
The Wyoming Valley Conference defeated the Lackawanna League, 27-12, March 14 in the senior all-star wrestling meet.
The Lackawanna League won, 36-15, in 2008 when the event was held for the first time.
Esposito got the league off to a fast start in the first of the night’s many close decisions when he edged Adam Harry of Lake-Lehman, 7-6, at 119 pounds.
Juser brought the Lackawanna back within a bout for the last time when he cut the WVC lead to 15-9 when he defeated Nick Cheek of Wyoming Valley West, 5-0, at 152 pounds.
Four other Susquehanna County wrestlers made appearances in the event, filling half the league’s spots. Each lost a decision.
Nick Decker of Blue Ridge fell, 1-0, to Shane Gavrish of Wyoming Valley West at 130.
Susquehanna’s Carlos Cuevas lost, 4-2, to Nanticoke’s Jeremy Mitkowski at 189.
Montrose’s Mike Rihl was beaten, 6-2, by Pittston Area’s Chris Gugliotti at 140.
Derek Green of Elk Lake lost to Noah Blackwell of Wilkes-Barre GAR, 8-1, at 145.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Lackawanna League senior boys’ basketball all-star game is scheduled for Wednesday night at Valley View High School.
The Lackawanna League boys’ tennis season gets started Thursday.
Elk Lake, coming off an 0-14 season, is at Dunmore (6-8). North Pocono is at Montrose in a meeting between teams that went 3-11 last season.
Both Elk Lake and Montrose, the only county schools with tennis, have tough second matches Monday, March 30.
Elk Lake is home against Abington Heights (13-1) while Montrose is at Honesdale (10-4).
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
Gibbs Teams Finish 1-2 At Bristol, Bristol, TN – Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, finished first and second in Sunday’s Goody 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but it was Busch’s dominating performance that was the focal point of the 503-lap race.
Kyle Busch wins at Bristol.
He led four times for 378 laps, including the last 134, for his second Cup win of the season.
“This is awesome. We should have won here last fall. We should have won here yesterday. We just keep messing up on pit road. The car was good. We made some adjustments to it, and it was really a great day,” said Busch.
Busch jumped from 7th to 4th in the points standings. The win was the 14th of Busch’s Cup career and marked the first time he has been a repeat winner at a Cup track.
There were some anxious moments near the finish, however, as Busch’s other teammate, Joey Logano’s car blew an engine with seven laps to go. That brought out the day’s 9th and last caution and bunched the field with Busch and Hamlin first and second for a green/white/checkered finish.
Those final two laps, which caused the race to go into overtime, produced no surprises. Busch got a great restart and was never threatened.
Teammate Hamlin finished second, about one-half second behind Busch.
“We had a long run car, not one for the short ones,” said Hamlin. “The car was good, but we just came up a little short.”
Jimmie Johnson’s team appears to be gaining momentum after a slow start. He led several times and finished third. He moved from 13th to 9th in the points.
“What a day,” said Johnson. “Truthfully, I wish we had another 500 laps to go. I’m really getting to understand this racetrack and what I need to do. The team sat me down a couple weeks ago and got me to understand what I really needed to do.”
Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, Juan Montoya, and Marcos Ambrose finished out the top-10.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 14th. He qualified 38th, but had to start from the rear of the field after his team changed the transmission in his No. 88. He was never able to run with the leaders.
Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Sterling Marlin, and Joe Nemechek all lost engines and did not finish.
Top 10 drivers after 5 of 36: 1. J. Gordon-794, 2. Kurt Busch-718, 3. Bowyer-715, 4. Kyle Busch-709, 5. Edwards-665, 6. Kahne-639, 7. Stewart-633, 8. Hamlin-631, 9. Johnson-627, 10. Kenseth-610.
Harvick Is Nationwide Winner At Bristol – Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders after 4 of 35: 1. Edwards-690, 2. Harvick-576, 3. Ky. Busch-566, 4. Gaughan-512, 5. Ragan-493, 6. Leffler-488, 7. Vickers-467, 8. Allgaier-466, 9. K. Wallace-437, 10. Lagasse-423.
Faithful To The End – I first became acquainted with Frank and Evelyn in 1995, when I was handling the photography and public relations at Mobile International Speedway, and writing news articles for the Mobile Press Register.
The couple just popped up in the pits one night after the races. Both had been students and sweethearts at North Carolina State in Raleigh, North Carolina. They settled in Mobile in the early 90’s.
Frank had earned an engineering degree and was given a partnership in a local air conditioning and refrigeration business. Evelyn had to cut her education short when the kids came along.
Maybe later she could finish up.
The two girls and one boy ended up with degrees from the University of South Alabama. Frank, Jr., the son went to work for a major NASCAR Sprint Cup team in Charlotte as an engineer.
Several times a year, he sent race tickets to his dad and mom. Evelyn became a NASCAR fanatic. She often clipped newspaper racing articles and posted them with little magnets on her refrigerator. She loved to go to Talladega.
Frank, Sr. bought out his partner and the business boomed. It was a successful family by any standards. Evelyn even decided to go back and finish her degree.
“It’s very hard to learn and keep up with the young kids when you’re my age,” she told me one night after the races. But she wanted that degree, and her family was proud of her.
The phone call came suddenly to Frank, Sr. “Come quick, it’s your wife,” said the paramedic.
The heart attack had come on without warning. One day Evelyn had been filled with boundless energy and joy, the next day at the age of 48, her life vanished in the emergency room of a local hospital.
I attended the funeral as a family member. The preacher and several friends talked about how she loved life so much. There was her family, how she had completed her education, and being a devoted NASCAR fan.
As they pushed the casket down the aisle of the church, the family followed. Frank held to his youngest daughter and tried to comfort her. Throughout the funeral you couldn’t help but notice the black leather NASCAR jacket he was wearing.
Later, his son told me, “At first the family didn’t understand his decision to wear that jacket to Mom’s funeral. But later on, we did.”
Yes, it did make sense.
Next Week: Is NASCAR Going to the Ducks?
The Craftsman Trucks and Sprint teams are at the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway, the smallest track on the circuit. The Nationwide teams have an off weekend.
Saturday, March 28: Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250, race 4 of 25, 2 p.m. TV: FOX.
Sunday, March 29: Sprint Cup Goody’s 500, race 7 of 35, 1:30 p.m. TV: FOX.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Greg Biffle drive for?
Last Week’s Question: How many Busch or Nationwide Series championships has Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won? Answer: Two, 1998 and 1999.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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