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SCRANTON – Julia Koloski missed the best part of track season a year ago.
This time, the Montrose junior is making the most of her chances.
“I’m just excited to get to do this again this year,” said Koloski, who stood out as the top performer at the Lackawanna Track Conference's Robert Spagna Championship Meet while helping the Lady Meteors claim a share of the Class AA girls’ title with Western Wayne May 5. “These are my favorite meets, from the Jordan Relays and Wilkes-Barre Invitational to states.”
After a brilliant freshman season, a thigh injury cost Koloski the chance to compete in the sport’s most prestigious events as a sophomore.
Koloski showed she is ready for her return to the spotlight. She was the only athlete to win three individual gold medals, setting a long jump record in the process, and also helped Montrose to an impressive relay victory.
The long jump record of 17-1 was only a preview of what Koloski could accomplish in the District 2 Class AA championships this week and the state meet after that. Koloski broke on her first and third tries and had just one attempt that counted.
“It wasn’t even a great jump for me,” she said. “I’ve jumped a lot better. I popped a huge one at Wilkes-Barre.”
Koloski held off 200-meter champion Jordan Hoyt of Abington Heights to win the 100 by five-hundredths of a second in 12.78.
Montrose gained 14 1/2 points in the high jump and 14 in the triple jump with the help of efforts by Sarah Kimsey, Koloski and Alex Lewis. Those points helped the Lady Meteors tie Western Wayne with 68 1/2 points while Lakeland had 65 1/2 and Blue Ridge had 59.
Kimsey won the high jump, tying the meet record by clearing 5-4. Lewis finished in a tie for fourth at 4-10.
Koloski won the triple jump with 35-10 3/4 and Kimsey took fifth with 32-8 1/4.
Jaey Blom, Koloski, Lewis and Angela Short formed the 400 relay team that edged strong combinations from Scranton and Abington Heights to finish first in 50.76 seconds.
Christy DiMichelle took third in the pole vault, Samantha Cudo was seventh in both the 1600 and 3200 and Renee Oleniacz was eighth in the 100 hurdles to contribute to the Montrose point total.
Kaitchen Dearborn led Blue Ridge to its fourth-place finish. She set a record (132-3) while winning the javelin by more than 21 feet, ran a leg on the winning 1600-meter relay team and scored points in two other events by placing sixth in both the high jump and long jump.
Allison Hall won the 800 and also ran on the winning 1600 relay team and the second-place 3200 relay.
Lauren Findley and Meghan Ragard also ran the 1600 and 3200 relays and scored points elsewhere.
Findley was third in the 400. Ragard was fourth in the 200.
Megan Kleiner was the other runner in the 3200 relay.
Katie Drake was fifth in the pole vault.
Mountain View was 11th with 5 1/2 points while Susquehanna was tied for 12th with a single point.
Alexandra Lynn was fourth in the long jump and Amanda Schmidt tied for eighth in the high jump for Mountain View.
Hannah Price scored Susquehanna’s only point by finishing eighth in the shot put.
In the boys’ meet, Montrose’s Cody DeBoer set a record in the long jump and added a seventh-place finish in the 100.
Blue Ridge was the top local team, placing third with 30 points. Valley View beat out Lakeland, 67 1/2-60, for the team title.
Jordan Green finished second in the 400 to lead the Raiders.
Blue Ridge also got points from: Zach Kruger, third in 110 hurdles; Jared Conklin, fourth in shot put and fifth in discus; Mike Robbs, fifth in 3200; and Eric Onyon, sixth in shot put.
Montrose was tied for sixth with 22 points. In addition to DeBoer’s two events, the Meteors also scored in the pole vault where Mike Rihl was second and John Maurey was seventh.
Josh Ralston’s fourth-place finish in the discus accounted for all five points for Elk Lake, which was 11th.
Mountain View got two points from Justin Cerra’s seventh-place finish in the 110 hurdles.
WEEK IN REVIEW
TUNNEL HILL – Andrew Bovenkamp and Jackson Franks had already combined to give Blue Ridge an early lead against Lackawanna Trail May 6.
With the game tied in the seventh inning, they answered a challenge and lifted the Raiders to a victory that clinched the Lackawanna League Division 3 baseball title.
Bovenkamp and Franks followed an intentional walk to Sam Longacre with consecutive run-scoring singles to carry unbeaten Blue Ridge to a 7-5 victory.
They had back-to-back, two-run singles in the third inning to put Blue Ridge in front, 4-0, and finished with three RBIs each.
“Sam’s been getting walked all year because of the stats he has,” Blue Ridge coach Josh Carpenter said of Longacre. “When we have guys on base, good things happen.
“Anybody on our team can get the base hit to drive in runs.”
Lackawanna Trail had rallied from four runs down to force a 5-5 tie with the help of four Blue Ridge errors in three innings.
“We had our shot, but they put the bat on the ball when they had to,” Lackawanna Trail coach Todd Peters said. “Franks got us two times with two strikes on him.”
Kurt Post gave up one hit in each of the first six innings, but got the last four batters he faced to complete the win for Blue Ridge. He walked two, hit two batters, struck out seven and gave up just one earned run.
In softball, Blue Ridge sophomore Courtney Ucci went from a tough start to her week to coming within an out of throwing back-to-back, no-hitters.
Ucci went out to pitch in the rain May 4 and threw 14 straight pitches for balls against Elk Lake in a game to break the tie for the Division 3 lead.
The game was suspended at that point and picked up the following day.
Ucci started with the bases loaded and a 2-0 count and went on to throw a no-hitter without walking another batter in a 1-0 win over the Lady Warriors.
“She handled that game very well,” Blue Ridge coach Bob Pavelski said.
Ucci, who struck out eight against Elk Lake, came within an out of a perfect game May 6 when Blue Ridge held on to first place with a 5-0 win over Lackawanna Trail.
This time, Ucci did not throw her 14th ball until the sixth inning. She threw 49 of 69 pitches for strikes but lost the bid for a perfect game on Kelsey Deveney’s single to center field with two out in the seventh. Katie Ross followed with another single.
Ucci struck out the side in the first and finished with eight strikeouts in her two-hitter.
“She’s doing very well,” Pavelski said. “She’s trying new pitches.
“She’s an easy-going girl who listens and doesn’t take input bad. She takes constructive criticism.”
Allison Hawk homered with one out in the bottom of the seventh against Elk Lake and tripled to drive in the winning run against Lackawanna Trail. She then scored for a 2-0 lead after four innings.
“Allison’s working on getting level,” Pavelski said. “She’s a strong girl.
“When she misses, she misses hard, but when she hits it, she hits it hard.”
Carissa Stonier, Alissa Richardson and Emily Knott singled in the three-run fifth to break the game open.
In boys’ tennis, all four Susquehanna County players lost in their first match at the District 2 Class AA singles championships.
Montrose’s Steve Luecke and Zach Warriner each won one game.
Elk Lake’s Kyle Singer and Kyle Turner both lost, 6-0, 6-0.
Montrose graduate Larry Lundy was part of a strong group of throwers who led Monmouth College to the Northeast Conference men’s track and field championships.
Lundy, a senior, earned all-NEC recognition by finishing first in the shot put at 57-0 3/4. He earned second-team honors for his second-place finish in the hammer throw and added a third-place finish in the discus.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The District 2 Class AA boys’ and girls’ track and field championships are scheduled for Thursday at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
In softball, the District 2 Class AA tournament is scheduled to open Monday. Class A first-round games are set for Tuesday.
In boys’ volleyball, the District 2 Class AA tournament opens Monday and moves to semifinal matches Tuesday.
In baseball, the District 2 Class A quarterfinals are set for Tuesday.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Martin Wins Again
DARLINGTON, S.C.—Mark Martin did it again. The oldest driver in the 43-car field showed the youngsters a thing or two Saturday night in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Mark Martin's Darlington win was his second of the season.
“It's absolutely unbelievable,” Martin said. “This is a big surprise. We had a strong car, but I never expected to win. Alan Gustafson (Martin’s crew chief) is absolutely the best. I may have been his childhood hero, but I'm living a second childhood now - and he's my childhood hero.
“We had a good enough car to do it, and pit strategy put us in a position to pull it off.”
Fifty-year-old Martin, charged home ahead of three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and other younger drivers to win the 367-lap marathon on what is known as NASCAR's toughest track.
Martin, an ageless racing junkie who tried to retire a couple years ago but couldn't, won the race in style, pulling away from Johnson at the end.
Physically fit and pumped up for the season in a Hendrick Chevrolet, Martin ran with the big dogs up front all night, keeping his car in one piece and saving the best for last.
It was a record-setting night for cautions under a full South Carolina moon. Seventeen times the caution waved as driver after driver made contact with Darlington's famous walls. Most of them didn't just get a Darlington Stripe as is the norm for this 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. They hit hard enough to take the paint off the whole right side of the car.
Trailing martin and Johnson across the stripe were Tony Stewart and his teammate Ryan Newman. Stewart’s third-place run was his fifth top-five in his last six starts.
“This is the best I’ve run in the 500, so I’m ecstatic about it. We’re doing things right, it’s just a matter of time,” said Stewart.
The remaining top-10 finishers were: 5. Jeff Gordon, 6. Martin Truex, 7. Brad Keselowski, 8. Greg Biffle, 9. Joey Logano, 10. Matt Kenseth.
Top-12 Chase Contenders after 11 of 26: 1. J. Gordon-1601, 2. Stewart-1572, 3. Kurt Busch-1546, 4. Johnson-1465, 5. Hamlin-1445, 6. Burton-1384, 7. Kyle Busch-1380, 8. Newman-1363, 9. Biffle-1345, 10. Kenseth-1326, 11. Martin-1316, 12. Edwards-1271
Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to struggle. He finished seven laps down in 27th.
Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the No. 41 Toyota, Tony Martin, a licensed crew member of the No. 34 Sprint Cup Series team and Ben Williams, licensed crew member of the No. 16 Nationwide Series team, have been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR for violation of NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy
KENSETH GETS DARLINGTON NATIONWIDE WIN
Matt Kenseth capitalized on Kyle Busch's flat tirewith three laps to go to win Friday night’s Nationwide Series race. Top-10 points leaders: 1. Kyle Busch-1539, 2. Edwards-1502, 3. Leffler-1386, 4. Logano-1340, 5. Keslelowski-1331, 6. Keller-1181, 7. Ragan-1139, 8, Lagasse-1095, 9. Allgaier-1089, 10. S. Wallace-1088
ANOTHER YEAR FOR MARK MARTIN
Mark Martin will return in 2010 to drive the No. 5 Chevrolets of Hendrick Motorsports for the entire 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It will be the 22nd full-time Cup campaign of Martin's career and his second with car owner Rick Hendrick.
Last July, Martin signed a two-year contract with Hendrick Motorsports covering one full Sprint Cup season in 2009 and one part-time schedule of 26 events in 2010. The revised agreement was signed this past week.
With his April 18 victory at Phoenix, Martin became just the fourth driver to record 400 top-10 finishes in Sprint Cup competition. It was his 36th career win in NASCAR's top series.
“It means a lot to drive the No. 5 Chevy for Rick and for Hendrick Motorsports,” said Martin, 50, of Batesville, Ark. “I'm in the best condition of my life, I'm recharged, and I'm motivated. Going to the racetrack every weekend is still really fun, and that's the key. There's more gas in my tank.”
WHO IS JAMES FINCH
James Finch is a hero to all the fans who root for the underdog in racing.
I imagine Finch felt like giving up many times.
“I would race a while, work a while, build up some more money and then come back and race,” said Finch. “Some people try and do it the other way-and bam-in a year or so, they have to fold up or whatever because it’s really, really expensive to do this.”
As an independent race team owner, he had been trying to win a NASCAR Cup race since 1990. His record going into the 2009 season was 105 tries with zero wins. His best finishes were two top-fives; one with Geoffrey Bodine in 2002 and Mike Wallace in 2007
All of us have one particular chunk of life we wish we could go back and live all over again. The one time that will forever stand out with Finch was his win in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, with young Brad Keselowski at the wheel of his No. 1 Chevrolet.
Before the Aaron’s 499 most racing fans outside Florida, or southern short tracks had never heard of James Finch, or his Phoenix Racing team.
Born in Panama City, Fla., his love for racing never swayed him from leaving his Florida home. He built his race shop in nearby Lynn Haven and has been there ever since. In 2000, Phoenix Racing and Yellow Freight joined forces and since then their teamwork has provided great results.
Instead of dress slacks and sponsor adorned team shirts Finch opts for a more laid back look; cowboy boots, untucked shirts and work jeans. Polished and flashy is not in his make-up. Instead Finch chooses to be a blue collar guy with a blue collar work ethic. Everything about him says, ‘”working guy.”
Finch dedicated the Talladega win to another great driver in NASCAR that was to make his comeback driving for Finch in 1994. It was Neil Bonnett. He was to debut the No. 51 Chevy at Speedweeks. Bonnett lost his life in a crash after hitting the outside wall during the first practice session.
Finch is hoping for more wins. “I would like to get some more Busch Grand National wins and I hope to run both Daytona and Talladega Cup races. Those two tracks are very close to my home, so they are personal to me,” said Finch.
Next Week: What is Happening to Dale Jr.
Weekend Racing: Friday, May 15, the Camping World Trucks will be at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. It will be televised on Speed, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (EDT).
The 2009 edition of the Sprint All-Star Race will be run Saturday, May 16 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. There will be a total of 100 laps on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. There will be four segments – with a 50-lap first segment, two 20-lap segments and one 10-lap shootout to the finish line. It will be televised on Speed beginning at 7 p.m. (EDT).
The Nationwide teams have an off week.
Racing Trivia Question: How many Cup wins does Rick Mears, driver of the 07 Chevrolet have?
Last Week’s Question: After a brief absence Sterling Marlin is back in Cup racing. Which team does he drive for? Answer. He is driving part time in the 09 Phoenix Racing Dodge.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam Longacre Is April’s Athlete Of The Month
Sam Longacre turned himself into the most feared hitter in Division 3 of Lackawanna League baseball.
In the process, the senior catcher helped make Blue Ridge the league’s most successful team.
The Raiders were able to clinch the division title in the first week of May, largely because of the way Longacre hit the ball in April.
Longacre’s eight home runs led Blue Ridge to a 10-0 record on the month and earned him the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month award.
“This has been a fun year,” said Longacre, who plans to continue playing baseball at Lackawanna College next season. “I’ve always had pretty good power.
“This year, I’ve been able to put it all together and get some home runs.”
Longacre scored 16 runs and drove in 20 in the 10 games. He also had three doubles among his 17 hits for a .629 batting average and a 1.630 slugging percentage.
Longacre also holds the defense together on the Lackawanna League’s only unbeaten team.
“He’s my leader,” Blue Ridge coach Josh Carpenter said. “He’s like a second coach out there. He calls the game himself. I’m not calling pitches.
“He’s well-rounded and very well-mannered. I’m excited to see where he goes.”
Sam, who also plays American Legion baseball and plays for the Delaware Angels in the summer, is the son of Alan and Helen Longacre of Jackson.
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