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MOUNT COBB - Allison Hall was nervous about her role as defending champion and excited about her older sister getting to see her run.
When the District 2 cross country championships were pushed back from Wednesday to Friday, it only added to Hall’s anxiousness.
Despite having to navigate the muddy, 3.1-mile course at Scranton Municipal Golf Course, it turned out Hall had nothing to worry about.
With her sister, former Blue Ridge and Mansfield University runner Rachel Israel cheering her on, Hall pulled away from Elk Lake’s Maria Trowbridge for a 32-second win in 20:33.
“She came up from Delaware to watch my race,” Hall said. “She was going to come up on Wednesday, but then I wasn’t sure she could still do it.
“I was real excited.”
Hall and Trowbridge broke away from the rest of the pack early and ran together out in front for more than half the race before Hall finished strong to repeat as District 2 Class AA champion.
“I was probably a little more careful going around corners,” Hall said. “Because of all the other races that had already been run, it was squishy and muddy.”
Trowbridge’s second-place finish helped lead a young Elk Lake team to a runaway title by the largest margin of the day in the four varsity races.
The Lady Warriors outscored Holy Cross, 43-97, for the team title with two sophomores and two freshmen among their top four runners and another freshman in the top seven.
Elk Lake’s defending state champion boys made it back to the state meet despite again falling short against Holy Redeemer in the district team race, 45-49. The top two teams advance to Saturday’s state meet in Hershey and Elk Lake went from second in the district to first in the state a year ago.
In addition to the top two teams, the top 10 individuals from other teams also reach the state meet.
Hall and Vikki Hartt qualified from Blue Ridge along with Mountain View’s Kelly Purdy, who made it despite not even being part of a full team.
Trowbridge, a sophomore, was second, followed by freshmen Lainey Bedell (seventh) and Kirsten Hollister (10th) to lead Elk Lake’s team championship.
Freshman Abby Zdancewicz was 10th.
The Lady Warriors had all seven runners in the top 20 when senior Laura Nulton finished 18th and was followed to the finish line by freshman Kellie Grosvenor and senior Hannah Owens.
Hartt finished seventh and Purdy 15th, meaning Susquehanna County had 10 of the top 20 runners despite having just three of the 16 full teams and three of the other five schools that also entered runners.
Blue Ridge was fourth with 140 points, behind defending champion Scranton Prep in third with 113. Montrose finished last with 399 points.
Holy Redeemer used a surge over the final mile to move past Elk Lake runners in key spots and pull out the team title.
The Warriors still finished 16 points in front of third-place Valley View, which got a 1-2-3 finish from Aaron Wilkinson, Jordan Siddons and Jake Kanavy.
Tyler Williams was fifth, Will Bennett seventh and Cody Butler 10th to lead Elk Lake. Sean Carney (13th) and Mike Bedell (14th) also figured into the team scoring. Including Jeff Horvath in 18th, Elk Lake combined with Holy Redeemer to fill 12 of the next 15 spots behind Valley View’s sweep of the top three.
Blue Ridge finished 10th out of 19 teams with 266 points. Montrose was 12th with 342 and Mountain View was 16th with 438.
Blue Ridge sophomore Mike Hobbs was the best other finisher from the county in 24th.
Elk Lake’s big day extended into the junior high meet, which followed the varsity. The school swept both sets of individual and team titles in Class AA.
Luke Jones won the individual title, leading four Elk Lake finishers in the top eight as the Warriors won by a 39-112 margin over second-place Northwest.
Seth Carney was fourth, Matt Horvath fifth and Jason Vermeulen eighth for the Warriors.
Susquehanna’s Brandon Soden was seventh.
The Elk Lake girls beat out second-place Hanover Area, 19-129, with the help of the top three finishers and five of the top seven.
Elizabeth Trowbridge won and was followed by teammates Jenny Van Etten and Alayna Doolittle.
Kenzie Jones and Emily Williams were sixth and seventh.
Susquehanna’s Ivy Christenson was fourth.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The first winning season since 2000 also meant the biggest game in nine years for the Susquehanna Sabers football team.
Two comeback attempts fell short Saturday afternoon when Carbondale ended Susquehanna’s division championship hopes and severely damaged the Sabers’ playoff hopes with a 26-18 Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 victory.
“I don’t know if the fact that these kids have never been in a game of this magnitude might have been a factor,” Susquehanna coach Dick Bagnall said. “We’re always playing games where we’re 3-6 or 3-7 at the end of the season and we’re done.”
The Sabers struggled with some costly penalties, including on both extra-point attempts that could have tied the game in the second half.
“The kids played hard,” Bagnall said. “I can’t fault them. They didn’t quit.”
After starting 0-3, Carbondale has won five out of six with the only loss coming by a point against unbeaten Old Forge.
The Chargers and Sabers entered the game tied for second in the division with the winner maintaining a chance to tie Old Forge for the division title.
Carbondale dominated time of possession, particularly after Susquehanna closed within two points for the second time with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
The Sabers had the ball for just 1:05 the rest of the way as the Chargers converted a pair of fourth-down situations each in a 6:42 scoring drive and the drive that took the final 5:24 off the clock.
Carbondale finished with a 32:16-15:44 lead in time of advantage.
Carbondale coach Larry Gabriel III was happy with the way his team finished after tough losses early in the year against Lakeland and Old Forge.
“We’ve had two close games where we felt we had chances to win, but didn’t get it done,” Gabriel said.
Dylan Cerra, who was a big part of the ball control with 34 carries for 137 yards, scored on a 2-yard run with 6:29 remaining for a 26-18 lead.
Quarterback Dominic DeAntonio provided two of the late fourth-down conversions on runs and another on a pass. He carried 15 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns and hit five of nine passes for 63 yards.
Gino Carachilo gave Carbondale its other touchdown on a 19-yard fumble return for a 14-0 lead with 1:36 left in the half.
Susquehanna, which did not have a first down and had just one yard total offense to that point, put together an impressive drive to begin its comeback before halftime.
Greg Price returned the kickoff 23 yards to the 48 and Jordan Aldrich made a juggling catch of a Dan Kempa pass for a 30-yard gain on the first play.
On fourth-and-17, Kempa floated a pass down the right sideline to freshman Cole Mallery, who sidestepped a defender on his way into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown as time expired.
“The big play was the touchdown at the end of the first half,” Bagnall said. “That was huge.
“It was a nice catch by Mallery.”
The Sabers produced touchdowns on back-to-back plays.
After Susquehanna passed up the chance to take over at its 35 when Carbondale kicked out of bounds to start the second half, Brad Weaver returned the next kick 94 yards for a touchdown to bring the Sabers within, 14-12.
“If it backfires, it was a bad decision,” Bagnall said. “Sometimes, you roll the dice and see what happens.
“I feel with our kick return team, we should at least get back to the 35.”
The teams followed with consecutive scoring drives.
The Sabers picked up 75 of their 125 yards total offense in the scoring drive late in the third quarter.
After Kempa ran 3 yards for a score, he was sacked on a potential-tying two-pointer for the second time. Both times, the attempts came from the 8 after penalties for too many men on the field.
Carbondale’s 52 running plays made it a busy day for the Susquehanna defense.
Greg Price led the Sabers with eight tackles and six assists. John Herbert added seven tackles, including two sacks, and an assist.
In an LFC Division 2 game, Riverside did all the scoring in the first half of a 46-0 rout of Montrose.
In boys’ soccer, Grant Shelp assisted Ryan Ochse goals in each half as Montrose defeated Elk Lake, 2-0, in a District 2 Class A quarterfinal.
Donny Symonds made 11 saves in the win.
In other quarterfinals, Lackawanna League Division 3 champion Forest City shut out Wyoming Seminary, 2-0, and Holy Cross defeated defending champion Mountain View, 3-1.
David Cavalieri and Mike Chiovari scored for Forest City, which overcame Wyoming Seminary’s 18-8 advantage in shots.
Cavalieri converted a pass from Justin Hodle with 6:46 left in the half.
Chiovari made a long run past Wyoming Seminary defenders to score unassisted with 1:57 left.
Chris Stokolosa had nine saves in the shutout.
In girls’ soccer, defending champion Mountain View shut out Carbondale, 2-0, and Montrose defeated Mid Valley, 5-1, in District 2 Class AA quarterfinals.
The final Lackawanna League North Division standings were: Lakeland 11-0-1, Mountain View 10-1-1, Montrose 7-5, Carbondale 5-5-2, Elk Lake 3-6-3, Forest City 2-9-1 and Blue Ridge 0-12.
In girls’ volleyball, the final Lackawanna League standings were: Dunmore 16-0, Mountain View 12-4, Lackawanna Trail 11-5, Forest City 10-6, Western Wayne 9-7, Elk Lake 6-10, Susquehanna 4-12, Blue Ridge 4-12, Montrose 0-16.
In field hockey, the final Wyoming Valley Conference Division III standings were: Wilkes-Barre Meyers 13-0-1, Northwest 11-2-1, Tunkhannock 9-3-2, Hanover Area 6-7-1, Wilkes-Barre GAR 6-8, Berwick 4-9-1, Elk Lake 3-11, Montrose 1-13.
Anthony Dorunda caught four passes for 37 yards Saturday when Wilkes University defeated Lycoming College, 17-13, in football.
Dorunda, a Blue Ridge graduate who played quarterback at Susquehanna, has five catches on the season for 44 yards.
Wilkes improved to 5-3 with the win.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The state cross country championships are Saturday at the Parkview Cross Country Course in Hershey.
The Class AA girls’ race, including Elk Lake, Blue Ridge’s Hall and Hartt and Mountain View’s Purdy, is scheduled for 9 a.m.
Elk Lake will try to defend its state title in the Class AA boys’ race at 11 a.m.
In boys’ soccer, the District 2 Class A final between the Forest City-Holy Cross winner and the Montrose-Hanover Area winner is scheduled for Wednesday. The semifinals were scheduled to be played Monday.
In girls’ soccer, the District 2 Class AA final between the Mountain View-Holy Cross and Lakeland-Montrose winners will be played Thursday at Scranton Memorial Stadium at 7. The semifinals were scheduled to be played Monday.
In girls’ volleyball, the District 2 Class A final is scheduled for Wednesday at Tunkhannock at 7. The match will be between the winner of the Mountain View-MMI and Forest City-Lackawanna Trail semifinals that were scheduled for Monday.
In high school football, Susquehanna and Montrose will have their regular seasons come to an end on the road Friday.
Susquehanna (2-2 in the division and 6-3 overall) will play Old Forge (4-0, 9-0) in Division 3 and Montrose (0-5, 1-8) will play at Lakeland (3-2, 6-3) in Division 2.
Our predictions were 8-3 last week (72.7 percent) to bring the season record to 89-20 (81.7 percent). This week’s predictions, with home teams in CAPS: OLD FORGE 39, Susquehanna 18; LAKELAND 47, Montrose 6; Mid Valley 31, LACKAWANNA TRAIL 6; DUNMORE 40, Riverside 6; NORTH POCONO 35, West Scranton 21; Valley View 15, SCRANTON 10; DELAWARE VALLEY 21, Wallenpaupack 12; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 54, Honesdale 0; SCRANTON PREP 31, Western Wayne 10; Carbondale 41, HOLY CROSS 3.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
McMurray Wins Messy Talladega Race
By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter
TALLADEGA, Ala. - Jamie McMurray played the game right. He had a fast race car, stayed out of trouble, and won Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, which ended under caution.
“I just can’t believe this,” said McMurray. “We tried to stay up front, and there near the end, I knew we had a good chance.
“I didn’t know how much fuel I had, but after the yellow flag came out, I pushed the clutch in and just coasted. It’s great to be back.”
Jamie McMurray, Sunday's winner at Talladega.
With 5 laps to go, Ryan Newman let up for slower traffic and was bumped from the rear by Marcos Ambrose. Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet went airborne, flipped, rolled, and somersaulted several times, before coming to rest on the infield grass.
Speedway emergency crews had to cut the top of his car off before they could get him out.
“I complained about this type racing in the spring, and now, ironically, I’m the one that gets airborne,” said Newman. “I was upside down and the roll bars were stuck on the top of my helmet, so yes, it was scary.
“It was a boring race, I wish NASCAR would do something. That (wreck) is not something anyone wants to see. If it is, ‘go home, you don’t belong here.’ That’s a product of this racing, and what NASCAR has put us in with this box-type of restrictor-plates, no bump-drafting, no passing, and no going below the yellow lines.
“Drivers used to be able to respect each other and race each other, like Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Bobby Allison, and all those guys that really were able to race.
“I guess they don’t think much of us anymore. It’s not even a good race for the fans, and that’s who we’re trying to please.”
Elliott Sadler and Kevin Harvick were also involved.
The race was red flagged with three laps remaining. Several cars ran out of fuel after NASCAR allowed teams to pit under yellow.
It was to be a green/white/checkered finish, with McMurray, and Kasey Kahne leading the field.
Before the cars had completed the first lap, Brad Keselowski, winner of the spring race at Talladega got into the back of Kurt Busch. For the next 30-seconds it wasn’t pretty. Cars were spinning, sliding, and bumping into each other. In all, 18 cars received some type of damage, as the race ended under yellow.
“I think we all know this is the type thing that is going to happen when we come to Talladega,” said Jeff Gordon. “Everybody is pretty patient throughout the day, but it always gets crazy at the end.”
Mark Martin was another driver, whose car was totaled.
“I’m not going to say anything. It was just a mess,” he said.
Jimmie Johnson, who stayed near the tail end of the pack for most of the day, avoided the two wrecks, came into the pits for fuel late in the race, and finished 8th. He now has a 181 points lead over Martin, and 195 over Gordon.
Top-10 finishers: 1. Jamie McMurray, 2. Kasey Kahne, 3. Joey Logano, 4. Greg Biffle, 5. Jeff Burton, 6. Michael Waltrip, 7. Elliott Sadler, 8. Jimmie Johnson, 9. Brad Keselowski, 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Top-12 Chase contenders with three races remaining: 1. Johnson-6245, 2. Martin-6064, 3. J. Gordon-6050, 4. Montoya-6003, 5. Stewart-5969, 6. Kurt Busch-5936, 7. Biffle-5908, 8. Newman-5846, 9. Kahne-5834, 10. Edwards-5814, 11. Hamlin-5800, 12. Vickers-5703.
Top-10 Camping World Truck leaders: 1. Hornaday-3487, 2. Crafton-3285. 3. Skinner-3160, 4. Bodine-2985, 5. Braun-2934, 6. Scott-2904, 7. Peters-2903, 8. Sauter-286, 9. Starr-2849, 10. Crawford-2794.
Note: The Nationwide teams had an off weekend.
NASCAR PERSPECTIVE: Richard Petty’s racing kingdom is coming unraveled. His teams are having problems with Chrysler, Petty’s choice of cars for the past 60 years. After being sold to Fiat of Italy, Chrysler is preparing to phase out many of its current models, including Dodges.
Elliott Sadler, driver of RPM’s No. 19 car raced a Ford for the first time in Cup competition this past weekend at Talladega. He will return to his familiar Dodge for the final three races of 2009.
“Richard Petty Motorsports is working with Ford Racing as we get ready to make the full-time switch at Daytona in 2010,” said Sadler. “Since this was the final restrictor plate race of the season, we made the decision to run a Ford to get some work done in advance. This was our first time to practice or race a Ford under actual race conditions. It should help us to make a strong showing at Daytona and put us in the best position to start next season.”
The last time a Petty-owned team (Petty Enterprises) fielded a Ford in the Cup Series was April 14, 1985 at Darlington. Morgan Shepherd drove it to an 18th-place finish.
But it isn’t just the car maker that is producing king-sized headaches for the seven-time NASCAR champion. After many missed payments from Chrysler, there has been a shortage of money to pay the bills, including drivers, A. J. Allmendinger and Reed Sorenson. Both of these drivers admitted they went several races this year without receiving a paycheck.
On top of his on-track problems, Allmendinger was picked up on a DUI charge last week. Petty fined him $10,000, and in addition, NASCAR placed him on probation until the end of the year.
But behind every dark cloud there is a ray of sunshine. Petty’s Garage will focus on the manufacturing of high-performance cars, including “museum-quality” restoration of vintage race cars, custom cars, and high-performance street vehicles. Their first complete car project is a 2009 Dodge Challenger, to be sold at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in January. Proceeds will benefit the various Petty Foundation charities.
The Challenger was completely disassembled and painted the trademark Petty Blue. Reassembly included a 426 hemi engine with 585 hp, suspension upgrades, stronger brakes, and a new exhaust system.
Lance McGrew will remain as crew chief of the No. 88 Hendrick Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. The 41-year-old McGrew assumed the role in May, 2009 on an interim basis.
“I have total faith in Lance and what he’s capable of accomplishing with Dale Jr.,” said Rick Hendrick. “There was a lot of pressure with how he came into this deal, and the way he’s handled it has been extremely impressive. Lance is confident in himself and his decisions, and all the outside distractions aren’t going to faze him.”
Weekend Racing: It’s off to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for all three of NASCAR’s major series.
Fri., Nov. 6, Camping World Trucks Lone Star 350, race 23 of 25; Starting time: 8:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.
Sat., Nov. 7, Nationwide Series O’Reilly Challenge, race 33 of 35; Starting time: Noon (EDT); TV: ESPN2.
Sun., Nov. 8, Sprint Cup Dickies 500, race 34 of 36; Starting time: 2:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: ABC.
Racing Trivia Question: Wendell Scott, the early African American driver won one major NASCAR race. Where did he win it?
Last Week’s Question: How many Cup championships did Cale Yarborough win? Answer. Three.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
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