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While most of their rivals sought out a preseason invitational test, the Elk Lake Warriors waited.
Coach Will Squier waited for Wednesday’s league openers to unleash a team that was too much for some of the strongest opponents in the Lackawanna League.
“We scrimmaged once, but not in the last week before the opener,” Squier said. “We took the week off, worked hard, but no invitationals.
“This was our first real race.”
The Warriors were clearly ready for it.
Elk Lake knocked off Scranton Prep, the defending league boys’ and district girls’ champion and did so emphatically. The Warriors also swept Holy Cross and outperformed Blue Ridge and Montrose, although they will not be scored against their county rivals and scheduling partners until later in the season.
The Warriors had seven of the top 10 finishers, all grouped within 44 seconds of each other.
Elk Lake defeated Scranton Prep, 19-43, and posted the maximum 15-50 victory over Holy Cross, a team that was tied for fifth place out of 23 Lackawanna League teams last season.
The Lady Warriors claimed six of the top nine places while defeating Holy Cross, 19-44, and Scranton Prep, 15-48. That dominance came despite the presence of Blue Ridge, a 20-2 and state qualifying team last year, and Montrose, which is coming off a 17-5 season.
If Wednesday’s meet had been all-star teams from the other four schools involved, Elk Lake would have still won the boys’ meet, 20-40, and the girls’ meet, 25-32.
“The kids have done their homework and really been diligent in the offseason,” Squier said. “It shows.”
Mike Bedell led the way for Elk Lake’s defending state Class AA boys’ champions by finishing in 16:33. Scranton Prep’s Sam Kuchwara was three seconds behind, but Tyler Williams, Will Bennett and Sean Carney filled the next three spots for Elk Lake.
Bryan Grosvenor was seventh, Jeff Horvath eighth and Cody Butler 10th for Elk Lake.
Defending District 2 Class AA champion Allison Hall of Blue Ridge won the girls’ race and Abby Kerns of Holy Cross finished third.
Elk Lake relied on Maria Trowbridge in second, Kirsten Hollister in fourth, Lainey Bedell in fifth and Kellie Grosvenor in sixth to offset those strong performances. Abbie Zdancewicz was eighth and Hannah Owens ninth.
The Lady Warriors have been strengthened by additions from their dominant junior high championship team, which had six of the top 12 runners in last year’s District 2 Class AA meet.
“We brought up a bunch of those junior high girls and they did well,” Squier said.
Trowbridge was fourth in the district varsity meet last year as a freshman. The next four runners - Hollister, Bedell, Grosvenor and Zdancewicz - were all part of the junior high champs.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Ethan Jones ran for more than 200 yards for the second straight week, nearly reaching the mark by halftime, to lead Montrose to a 22-13 non-league football victory over Montrose.
The win allowed the Meteors to improve to 1-1.
Jones got a quick start toward the milestone. He ran 85 yards for a touchdown on the game’s third play to combine with Dalton Smith’s two-point conversion run to put the Meteors ahead to stay.
Lackawanna Trail, trying to bounce back from a 1-9 season, made the game close throughout.
The Lions cut the lead to 8-7 in the first quarter and were within, 14-13, in the fourth until Smith ran 8 yards for a touchdown and caught the two-point conversion pass from Volk.
Jones had runs of 45 and 15 yards in a first-quarter scoring drive that led to Volk’s 16-yard scoring pass to Zach Thorne for a 14-7 lead.
Montrose stopped a drive inside the 10 maintain its seven-point lead into the half.
Jones again had the bulk of the yardage on the clinching drive.
Susquehanna was effective stopping Western Wayne for three downs, but the Wildcats were willing to gamble.
Western Wayne scored four times on drives that were kept alive by fourth-down conversions to handle the Sabers, 34-0, and improve to 2-0, exceeding the team’s combined win total for the previous five seasons.
The first two touchdowns came on the plays immediately after fourth-down conversions when Joe Siclari looked deep down the middle and found Joe Vonderhey for touchdowns of 49 and 42 yards.
As a result, Susquehanna led 4-3 in first downs after one quarter but trailed, 14-0.
Susquehanna started the second quarter at the Western Wayne 15 after Dan Kempa had runs of 29 and 20 yards and a 10-yard pass to Chris Kimble for three of those first downs. The Sabers, however, lost yardage from there and gave the ball up on downs at the 16.
In all, Western Wayne went 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions all with the added risk of coming from the Wildcats’ end of the field.
Josh Harrison carried 26 times for 122 yards and scored two of the three touchdowns Western Wayne added in the final 18 minutes to break the game open.
Kempa led the Sabers (1-1) with 64 yards rushing on 11 carries, but the Wildcats held him to three yards after the first quarter.
In high school cross country, Blue Ridge’s Hall won the Montrose Meteor Invitational by nine seconds with a time of 21:20 on the 3.1-mile course.
Hall helped Blue Ridge to a fifth-place finish in the event. Vestal, N.Y. edged Wallenpaupack, 53-57, for the team title.
Blue Ridge’s Jake Hinkley finished fifth in the boys’ meet, which was won by Northeast Bradford over Vestal, 40-43.
In minor league baseball, the Scranton Wilkes-Barre/Yankees defeated the Gwinnett Braves, three games to one and advance to the International League’s Governors’ Cup finals.
Montrose graduate Rich Thompson finished his season tied for fourth in the IL with seven triples and alone in eighth place with 26 stolen bases.
Thompson batted .265 in 119 games for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He scored 69 runs with 22 doubles and three home runs while driving in 36 runs.
Ryne Carney, the leader of Elk Lake’s state cross country championship last year, made his collegiate debut with Bucknell University September 5.
Bucknell finished first out of six teams at the 15th annual Harry Lang Invitational at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.
Carney was not one of the seven Bison runners who figured in the meet scoring. He finished 49th out of 89 runners in the field with a time of 23:05 over 6.4 miles.
Bucknell finished with 26 points to beat out Syracuse with 40, Colgate 72, Delhi 126, Nazareth 154 and Utica 160.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Susquehanna and Montrose are both home in high school football games this weekend, trying to move above .500.
Montrose faces defending Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 champion Old Forge (2-0).
Susquehanna meets Holy Cross, an LFC Division 3 opponent, in a non-league game. When the Sabers and Crusaders (1-1) meet in Dunmore later in the season, that game will count in the division standings.
Predictions on this weekend’s games, with home team in CAPS: Old Forge 48, MONTROSE 12; SUSQUEHANNA 31, Holy Cross 15; Lakeland 16, CARBONDALE 14; Scranton Prep 34, LACKAWANNA TRAIL 6; Western Wayne 9, MID VALLEY 0; DUNMORE 27, West Scranton 8; North Pocono 44, RIVERSIDE 0; East Stroudsburg North 26, HONESDALE 25; East Stroudsburg South 46, SCRANTON 27; POCONO MOUNTAIN EAST 35, Wallenpaupack 21; Wyoming Valley West 15, DELAWARE VALLEY 0; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 27, Valley View 9.
Last week’s predictions were 11-3 (78.6 percent), including a perfect score for the second straight week with a prediction of Montrose’s 22-13 win over Lackawanna Trail. Our season record is 20-7 (74.1 percent).
In professional baseball, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees opened the best-of-five Governors’ Cup final series in either Louisville or Durham Tuesday. The series returns to Moosic Thursday for Game Three, followed the next two days, if necessary.
The Yankees will be attempting to repeat as champions.
In professional hockey, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will hold a Black and Gold intrasquad exhibition game at Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre Thursday night.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Hamlin Finally Wins At Home Track
By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter
Richmond, Vir. - Virginia native Denny Hamlin finally got a win at Richmond, where he had come so close, several times before. He dominated Saturday’s Rock & Roll 400, finishing nearly two-seconds ahead of Kurt Busch.
“I mentioned before that I wanted to win this race before I won a (Daytona) 500, but now, of course, I know how special that race is to everyone,” said Hamlin. “But this one in particular, was especially gratifying after all the heartbreak. It makes it more gratifying to win now.
“I was nervous for the pit crew. I knew what my nerves could do to me. I tried to do everything I could to get in the stall right, and not lose the race on pit road because that's where we lost it a couple times here. So I was nervous for those guys. I knew their eyeballs were popping out of their head to make sure they didn't make a mistake, and they just did what they had to do.”
Hamlin, who had already locked up a berth in NASCAR’s Chase For the Championship before the race, entered the event with nothing to lose and a no-holds-barred approach. Starting third, he needed only four laps to gain the lead and he went on to lead the field, seven times for a race-high 299 of 400 laps.
The 2009 Chase For the Championship drivers (l-r): back row - Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson; front row - Juan Montoya, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers.
Hamlin’s only serious challenge came from Jeff Gordon, who led five times for 97 laps and continued to hound Hamlin until an altercation with Clint Bowyer cost Gordon several positions.
Top-10 finishing order: 1. Denny Hamlin, 2. Kurt Busch, 3. Jeff Gordon, 4. Mark Martin, 5. Kyle Busch, 6. Clint Bowyer, 7. Brian Vickers, 8. Sam Hornish, 9. Kevin Harvick, 10. Ryan Newman.
Brian Vickers finished seventh and clinched the final Chase spot. Hamlin’s teammate Kyle Busch fell eight points short. Matt Kenseth, the 2002 Cup champion also failed to make the cutoff for the first time.
With the points being adjusted for the last 10 races, Mark Martin is the leader.
“I'm certainly going to enjoy that for a week here,” said Martin. “I feel like a whole new person, huge weight off my shoulders. It's just like I said before, to make this thing is the icing and now we get to go race for the cake.
“Of course, I'm living in it now, but to me, this is certainly the best year of my career, the most fun, and since Chicago, some of that fun has been sort of smothered out by all of the pressure. We are in, we are out, we are in, all that. But the thing that I'm excited about is our race team has been so strong since Chicago. The cars have gotten better and better on the racetrack, and Chicago, Indy, Bristol, Michigan, and here, I don't think we ever ran outside the Top-5, and those are the kind of race cars and the kind of effort that you have to give to be a championship contender. So we'll see how things fare here.
“But anybody in this Chase can win. Every team that's in it is capable of putting together a ten-race row. That's all it takes is the magic ten races, and anybody can win it.”
Tony Stewart was none too pleased with his 17th-place finish.
“I’m disappointed with my effort tonight,” he said “I made mistakes as a driver that I normally cuss people for doing, but from an ownership standpoint, I’m ecstatic to have us locked in and extremely proud for Ryan (Newman) and everybody on the U.S. Army team to get themselves locked in.”
Jimmie Johnson, the defending Cup champion, finished the race in 11th, but is third in points heading into the Chase.
“I'm optimistic and feel we have a very good chance,” said Johnson. “We led a bunch at Michigan and didn't get it done. Bristol we were fast and had troubles. Right now we have the speed.”
Carl Edwards dropped four spots and is now 9th in points.
“This season is so much different than last season,” he said. “We had six wins or something at this point last season. Right now, we have struggled a little bit as a group, at Roush Fenway, so I feel like this is our opportunity to only be a few points behind the leader, kind of gather all of our energy and all of the things we have been working on and head into these last ten races full force. So I’m real excited about it and hopefully we can have some good runs and get back up there the way we know we can run.”
2009 Chase Contenders for the Sprint Cup Championship: 1. Martin-5040, 2. Stewart-5030, 3. Johnson-5030, 4. Hamlin-5020, 5. Kahne-5020, 6. J. Gordon-5010, 7. Kurt Busch-5010, 8. Vickers-5010, 9. Edwards-5000, 10. Newman-5000, 11. Montoya-5000, 12. Biffle-5000.
Neither of the three Richard Childress drivers, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, or Kevin Harvick made this year’s Chase.
Top-10 Nationwide leaders after 27 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-4379, 2. Edwards-4178, 3. Keselowski-4082, 4. Leffler-3599, 5. Allgaier-3152, 6. S. Wallace-3132, 7. Keller-2991, 8. Gaughan-2957, 9. Bliss-2950, 10. McDowell-2902.
Top-10 Camping World Truck leaders after 18 of 25: 1. Hornaday-2875, 2. Crafton-2678, 3. Skinner-2662, 4. Scott-2457, 5. Bodine-2389, 6. Braun-2372, 7. Starr-2310, 8. Peters-2307, 9. Sauter-2297, 10. Crawford-2297.
2010 START TIMES TO BE MORE CONSISTENT
NASCAR races are expected to have more consistent starting times by the 2010 season. Officials confirmed they are working with the networks to standardize starting times that fans have criticized for years. Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark told reporters last week that the plan is to run most afternoon races at 1:00 p.m./et and most night races at 7:30 p.m./et.
Weekend Racing: It’s on to Loudon, New Hampshire for the Camping World Trucks and Sprint Cup teams. The Nationwide Series has an off week. This will be the first of 10 races to determine the 2009 Sprint Cup Championship. The season will end November 22, at Homestead, Fla.
Sat., Sept. 19, Camping World Helluva Good 200, race 19 of 25, Starting time: 2:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed.
Sun., Sept. 20, Sprint Cup Sylvania 300, race 27 of 36, Starting time: 1 p.m. (EDT); TV: ABC.
Racing Trivia Question: Who was the youngest NASCAR driver to win a Cup championship?
Last Week’s Question: Richard Petty has 200 Cup wins. Who is the number two driver? Answer. David Pearson with 105 victories.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cole Wheaton has been going to the golf course since he was old enough to swing a club.
Whether he is traveling to the Binghamton area to play in Triple Cities Golf Association events, competing with the best junior players and men at Montrose Country Club or serving as one of the leaders of a successful high school program, the golf course is still the place to find the Montrose junior.
Wheaton shot an 80 for the best score among county players while leading Montrose to a sixth-place finish in the 19-team, season-opening Irving Jackman Memorial Tournament at Scranton Municipal Golf Course. He has helped the Meteors to a 4-0 start and sole possession of first place in Lackawanna League Northern Division play to continue a successful summer in which he won the Montrose Country Club junior championship and advanced to the semifinals of the men’s club championship.
For his efforts, Wheaton has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for August.
Despite his finish at the Jackman Tournament, Wheaton was actually expecting better of himself.
“I look at it as a big tournament and try to do well there,” Wheaton said. “I hit the ball really well, but when I got close to the green, my approach shots were not as good as I hoped.”
That part of his game is currently the area of concentration for Wheaton, who is already in his third year as a starter for the Meteors.
“I’m trying to improve my approach shots, hitting into greens, to try to make more birdies,” said Wheaton, whose strength is his play off the tee.
Meteors coach Mike Zuba said that Wheaton is willing to practice on his own and put extra time into improving his game.
“He has a strong will to want to be good,” Zuba said.
Wheaton was stopped short of the men’s club championship in his first try when he ran into his father, Barry Wheaton, in the semifinals and lost. Barry serves as assistant coach in basketball where Cole played as a varsity reserve during his sophomore season.
Kathy Wheaton, Cole’s mother, has seven straight women’s club championships at Montrose.
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