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SHIPPENSBURG – The girls’ track season started in March with Blue Ridge and Elk Lake battling in a meet destined to determine the Lackawanna Track Conference Division 3 championship.
The season came to an end Saturday under the bright sun at Shippensburg University with the schools’ two 1600-meter relay teams on the track together again with state medals at stake in the final event of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Track and Field Championships finals.
The battle between two Susquehanna County rivals completed a state meet where county girls excelled, led by the silver medal and two bronzes claimed by Montrose sophomore Julia Koloski.
“I figured we could win districts,” said Angela Short, who anchored Montrose’s bronze-medal winning 400-meter relay team, one of four county teams to medal in the three girls’ relays. “Then we were sixth in the state (in seeding and qualifying), but I didn’t expect us to get all the way to third.
“This is big, especially for such a small school that we have.”
Class AA, in track, is for schools with enrollments of 300 or fewer girls in the top three grades.
Susquehanna County has five of the state’s 293 Class AA girls’ track and field teams, meaning that an average performance would send two or three state medals back to the county.
The girls from Montrose, Blue Ridge and Elk Lake were far from average. Together, the three teams produced medals in nine events, two more top-10 finishes and 13 individuals or relay teams among the top 14 in their event. Even the worst performances by a county girl at the state meet were in the top half of the competitors in those events.
As relatively small schools within the Class AA group, the success is not expected. Montrose is the biggest of the three with an enrollment of 249 girls. Elk Lake has 170 and Blue Ridge has 155.
Yet, Blue Ridge came up with enough girls to form two strong relay teams and get medals in two individual events.
“These girls are awesome,” said Meghan Ragard, who was part of the sixth-place teams in both the 1600 and 3200 with Allison Hall and Lauren Findley.
Megan Kleiner was the other runner on the 3200 relay and Kaitchen Dearborn was on the 1600 relay.
“We’ve been together a long time,” Ragard said. “Lauren and Megan Kleiner are seniors and we were able to end it for them with a big push.”
Koloski, as she had been in the district championships, was one of the stars of the meet for District 2, joining Hanover Area sprinter Amanda Kuhl, who also claimed three medals.
Koloski was beaten by Kuhl by one-hundredth of a second in the 100 meters to place third.
“It was so nice to see two District 2 girls in the top three,” said Kuhl, who was second in the 100, third in the 200 and eighth in the 400. “Usually you see Philadelphia girls at the top.”
Koloski got her silver medal in the triple jump with a finish of 38-6 1/2. Her third-place finish in the 100 in 12.39 seconds came after she qualified second-best from the semifinals in 12.19. Koloski was also part of the third-place 400 relay team, running the longest distance possible between the exchange zones as the second leg.
“I’m proud that I medaled at all,” Koloski said. “It’s a big honor.”
Koloski held up well in a demanding schedule that included the long jump, where she was 14th, on Friday along with qualifying heats in the 100 and 400 relay.
Counting the relay, Koloski ran the 100 three more times Saturday along with taking her six attempts in the triple jump.
“I feel like I’m doing all right,” Koloski said before heading to the track for her final event. “It is really tiring.
“Kudos to all the athletes who come out and do (multiple events). It is tiring.”
Koloski’s performance in the 100 sent her to the medal stand for one of three trips. That medal was presented by 1948 Olympian Herb Douglas, a two-time state sprinting champion while at Allderdice High School near Pittsburgh.
Leadoff runner Jacey Blom and third runner Alex Lewis handled their legs and what could have been tricky handoffs with Koloski because of the small margin of error the Lady Meteors leave themselves. Blom, Koloski and Lewis got the baton to Short in third place, but well behind the two leaders.
After Short originally gave up part of her edge on the fourth- and fifth-place teams, she finished strong to hold the spot.
“At about 50 meters, I could hear them breathing behind me,” Short said.
The competition has a way of pushing athletes to new limits at the state track meet.
Whether it was Short being chased or Hall chasing, they came up with something extra.
Hall bettered her own school record in the 800 in Friday qualifying then in her 2:18.01 finish for fifth place in Saturday’s final.
Running the 800 between her two contributions to medal-winning relay teams, Hall spent much of the race in 10th or 11th out of 12 runners.
She did not stay there.
“I was trying to run real hard,” Hall said. “Then one girl in front of me started sprinting.
“I don’t know where it came from, but I got a burst and went with her. I was trying for eighth and I was really surprised when they told me fifth. It was the best I ever ran.”
Ragard said the relay teammates never had a doubt that Hall would still have something left for their meet-closing race just an hour later.
“She always does,” Ragard said.
Findley and Ragard finished the first two legs in under two minutes to put the team in fourth place before Dearborn and Hall finished up for a time of 4:01.09 and fifth place.
The day before, the Lady Raiders had put together a remarkable time of 3:57.56 while chasing Lewisburg and qualifying second for the final.
Dearborn added Blue Ridge’s other point with an eighth-place finish in the javelin.
Findley finished 10th in the 400 and Ragard 12th in the triple jump, just out of range of team points and medals.
Elk Lake freshman Maria Trowbridge got the medal parade started by taking sixth place in the 3200 in Saturday morning’s first final.
The Lady Warriors closed the day with a seventh-place effort in the 1600 relay. Cassie Van Etten, Kimberly Caines, Caitie Good and Kelsey Hermick formed the medal-winning team.
Montrose’s Sarah Kimsey finished tied for 10th in the high jump.
The Lady Meteors were tied for eighth in the team state championship race with 20 points.
Blue Ridge, the LTC Division 2 champion and the District 2 runner-up, finished 17th.
In the boys’ meet, Montrose’s Cody DeBoer was the only county athlete to receive a medal.
DeBoer finished fifth in the long jump.
Elk Lake was represented by: Ryne Carney, who was 13th in the 3200; Sean Carney, who was 14th in the 400; and the 1600 relay team which finished 18th.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Susquehanna was the only county baseball team to reach the semifinals of the District 2 tournament.
The Sabers defeated Northwest, 8-1, in the quarterfinals before losing, 10-0, to two-time defending champion Old Forge in the Class A semifinals.
Brandon Stone went the distance, giving up seven hits, and Susquehanna broke open the Northwest game with six runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Stone walked two and struck out four.
Matt Leet, Taylor Manning and Jordan Aldrich each had two hits for Susquehanna.
Corey Hodick of Old Forge threw a three-hit shutout without walking a batter to eliminate the Sabers.
Blue Ridge, the undefeated Lackawanna Division 3 champion, and Mountain View were the only other county team to win a game.
The top-seeded Raiders were upset, 6-5, by Holy Cross in the Class AA quarterfinals.
Blue Ridge started the tournament with an 8-3 victory over Mid Valley.
Mountain View won at Elk Lake, 13-5, in the first round of the 16-team Class AA tournament before falling to second-seeded Riverside, the Lackawanna Division 2 champion, 13-5.
Montrose was shut out by Lake-Lehman, 9-0, in another first-round Class AA game.
Forest City finished winless with an 11-1 loss to Old Forge in the Class A quarterfinals.
In softball, Elk Lake won three times to reach the Class AA semifinals.
Brooke Darling continued a season full of impressive pitching performances to help Elk Lake get past Mid Valley, 9-3; Dunmore, 1-0; and Lakeland, 3-2.
Susquehanna reached the Class A semifinals with a 3-0 shutout of Forest City.
Blue Ridge received a bye into the semifinals and was scheduled to face the Sabers Tuesday.
Lakeland eliminated Montrose, 3-2, in a first-round Class AA game.
Lackawanna Trail defeated Mountain View, 3-1, in the Class A quarterfinal.
In boys’ volleyball, Lackawanna League champion Mountain View was knocked out in the first round of the District 2 Class AA tournament in a tight five-game match with eventual state qualifier Wilkes-Barre Coughlin.
Mountain View twice had the lead in games won, but Coughlin pulled out a 22-25, 26-24, 24-26, 25-16, 16-14.
Whitney Williams and the rest of the University of Massachusetts softball team had the season come to an end May 18 with a 6-1, 15-inning loss to third-ranked Washington in the championship game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Amherst Regional.
Williams, a junior shortstop from Mountain View, threw out a runner at the plate in the 10th inning. She went 1-for-6 with a walk.
UMass ended its season 41-10.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Elk Lake will play Northwest Wednesday for the District 2 Class AA softball championship.
The winner of Tuesday’s scheduled Blue Ridge-Susquehanna game will play the Old Forge-Lackawanna Trail winner Thursday for the District 2 Class A softball championship.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Bliss Wins Rain Shortened Nationwide Race
CONCORD, N. C. - Better fuel mileage got Mike Bliss out front late in Saturday night's Nationwide Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Three laps after Bliss took the lead from runner-up Brendan Gaughan on Lap 167, NASCAR red-flagged the race because of rain and made Bliss' win official by calling the event 30 laps short of its scheduled distance of 200 laps.
Mike Bliss, winner of Saturday's Nationwide race.
Bliss and runner-up Brendan Gaughan were the only two drivers who remained on the track during a cycle of green-flag pit stops that started on Lap 144.
“We stayed out as long as we could, and it paid off,” said Bliss, who gave team owner James Finch his second unlikely victory in a month. Brad Keselowski won the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Talladega in April driving a car owned by Finch. “I knew we had a pretty good car in practice and kind of worked our way into the top-10. We stretched our fuel mileage quite a bit, and that's why I'm here.”
Asked whether he felt as if he had stolen the race, Bliss chuckled, “Yeah, I did -- but from a guy who wins too much (Kyle Busch) -- and nobody likes him.”
Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders after 11 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-1714, 2. Edwards-1641, 3. Leffler-1541, 4. Logano-1495, 5. Keselowski-1473, 6. Keller-1296, 7. Ragan-1285, 8. Gaughan-1237, 9. Bliss-1234, 10. Allgaier-1210
STEWART/HAAS RACING; A BIG SURPRISE
When Tony Stewart announced in 2008 he was going to accept an offer to become half owner of Haas CNC Racing, a Sprint Cup team, many fans questioned his decision.
Owner, Gene Haas had been convicted of mail fraud and was serving time in a California federal prison. While the financial end of it looked good for Stewart, there were many in the Cup garage who thought he might be taking on more than he could handle.
But Stewart, along with his teammate, Ryan Newman are proving the sceptics wrong.
After 11 races into the regular 36-race schedule, Stewart is second in points, just 29 points behind Jeff Gordon.
But even better, he found his first victory in the 25th annual (non-points) All-Star Race at Lowe’s. Stewart’s first win as a driver/owner and first All-Star win came in a race that turned into a fender-banging, hot mix of hard racing in the final 10-laps. His win, combined with the string of recent successes at Stewart-Haas Racing, makes him one of the hottest drivers in Sprint Cup racing.
“It’s been the whole team, man,” said Stewart after his win at Lowe’s. “They’ve been an awesome group of guys to work with up to this point. And that’s the most gratifying part about it. It’s about seeing those guys and seeing them celebrating and smiling in victory lane when I got there - and seeing how happy they were and the excitement on their faces. There’s no check that you can write in any amount that’s going to make up for that and could take the place of it.”
Now that he’s second in Cup points, there’s much being said about him defeating the odds in the gamble he took in leaving a secure job driving Joe Gibbs’ No. 20 Toyota.
But Stewart said co-owner Haas is the one who took the biggest risk.
“You really have got to give him the credit for taking the gamble and taking the risk and having us come be a part of this organization like that and trusting us to make some pretty big decisions and personnel changes,” Stewart said. “That’s not something that a lot of people in that position are willing to do and give up that kind of control to let a totally different group of guys come in and all of a sudden start changing things around, but Gene was willing to do that.”
Newman didn’t get off to quite as good of a start as Stewart, but he has run up front and is currently eighth in points.
“We haven't quite reached victory lane yet, but we can sure feel it and taste it,” said Newman. “It has been exciting to be a contender week in and week out. The more you contend, the odds get better to see the checkered flag first.”
The No. 39 and No. 14 Stewart-Haas teams have performed well this season. The real question is what kind of additional momentum the teams will be able to garner from the all-star win. I think we’ll see both Stewart and Newman take a checkered flag before the season is over – and who knows, maybe even more than once.
All three of NASCAR’s major series will be at the Dover Monster Mile.
Fri., May 29, Camping World Truck Series AAA Insurance 200, race 7 of 25; Starting time: 8 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.
Sat., May 30, Nationwide Series Heluva Good 200, race 12 of 35; Starting time: 2 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN2.
Sun., May 31, Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400, race 13 of 36; Starting time: 1:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: FOX.
Racing Trivia Question: Where is Tony Stewart’s home town?
Last Week’s Question: Why has NASCAR suspended Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield? Answer. For failing two drug tests.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at:
The following area students have been selected as Lackawanna Boys Volleyball League All Star Picks for Spring 2009.
First Team Selections: Sean Sheridan, Western Wayne; Luke Jenkins, Mt. View; David Corbin, Mt. View; Gabe Campbell, Lackawanna Trail; Austin Kodish, Lackawanna Trail; Nick Smith, Blue Ridge.
Second Team Selections: Matt Hill, Western Wayne; Scott Martens, Mt. View; Tim Tyson, Forest City; Jake Bedford, Lackawanna Trail; Jeff Williams, Susquehanna; Taylor Cundey, Susquehanna; Jason Bennett, Blue Ridge.
Libero: Bryce Edwards, Mt. View.
MVP: Luke Jenkins, Mt. View.
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