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Local Sports Scene


District 2 Cross Country Meet Will Have To Change Course
By Tom Robinson

District 2 is looking for a new home for its cross country championships.

Bill King, a district committee member and cross country chairman, said during the state championships in Hershey that he has been informed by Scranton Municipal Golf Course pro Ed Cimoch that the event cannot be held there next year.

King is uncertain what the district’s next move will be. He said the Elk Lake program, which produced a boys’ state championship in 2008 and third-place finish this year and a second-place girls’ finish in 2007, is one of the few entities to make inquiries about hosting the event in the past.

The course at Scranton Municipal has been the site of many strong efforts by Susquehanna County runners in recent years. Blue Ridge’s Allison Hall won her second straight Class AA title there this season.

By the time Hall ran in the fourth race of the day October 28, runners were cautiously maneuvering around the mud in many spots on the course.

District 2 held its varsity and junior high championships on the course in one day for the first time ever. Hundreds of runners circling the course twice in wet conditions left the fairways damaged, but King said there were other issues involved in the decision.

Parking is difficult around the course and on adjacent roads. Scranton Municipal’s only chance to earn any money while risking damage to its course comes from restaurant sales. The growing tradition of teams and fans bringing their own tents, coolers, grills, etc. and setting them up around the course has caused a yearly reduction in sales.

“We need to find a place with good parking and a grass area similar to what the kids are going to run on at states,” said King, who wants to avoid any road courses because the state meet is held at Parkview Golf Course. “That’s not easy to find in our area, at least unless somebody wants to let us on a golf course.”

Prior to the 2001 move to Scranton Municipal in Mount Cobb, District 2 cross country championships had been held at Frances Slocum State Park in Wyoming, Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre and McDade Park in Scranton.

Lakeland has hosted junior high championships.

Parking and room for the tents, in addition to a wide enough starting area, are all part of the equation necessary to run the meet smoothly.

“Cross country has changed,” said King, a member of Millersville University’s national championship team in 1981. “We’d be stretching under a tree.

“Now, they all have elaborate tents. It’s great for the kids. I would have loved to have tents to stretch in.”


District 4 champion Lewisburg scored four times in 10 minutes to start the second half and eliminated Montrose with a 6-1 victory November 10 in the first round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA girls’ soccer tournament at Hughesville.

Lewisburg led just 1-0 at halftime.

Mimi DiPhillips scored Montrose’s only goal off an assist by Samantha Poirer with 13 minutes left.

Katelyn Spellman made 29 saves in the loss.

The District 2 champion Lady Meteors finished 10-6.

The Montrose girls were the last fall sports team from Susquehanna County left in this season’s playoffs.


Ellen Squier, a sophomore from Elk Lake, was Philadelphia Biblical University’s recipient of the Colonial States Athletic Conference Sportsmanship Award for women’s cross country.

Jenna Fancher, a senior from Mountain View, finished 14th for Keystone College in the CSAC Championships, earning a second-team berth on the conference all-star team.

Tad Koneski, a junior from Elk Lake, was 15th to help the Keystone men finish third in the conference. He just missed the all-star recognition that goes to the top 14 runners in the conference meet.


Abington Heights, Lakeland, Dunmore and Riverside all reached the District 2 championship game after Lackawanna Football Conference teams went 2-2 against outside opponents in the district playoffs and 0-3 in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Our predictions for the first round of the high school football playoffs were 5-4 (55.6 percent), bringing our season record to 103-25 (80.5 percent). This week’s predictions for the District 2 finals: Dunmore 34, Lakeland 21; Northwest 35, Riverside 19; Abington Heights 28, Dallas 13.

In winter sports, official practice begins Friday in preparation for basketball, wrestling and swimming seasons. Teams are allowed to play their first games beginning December 11.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at

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By Gerald Hodges

One More Race For Johnson

By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Sunday’s Sprint Cup race was supposed to be a Duel in The Sun, but no one told Jimmie Johnson, who led four times for 238 of the 312 laps, and at the end, Johnson’s margin of victory was nearly two seconds over Jeff Burton.

“We could have been down after losing all the points last week, but we came in here to qualify well, race well, and have great pits stops. That’s what we did, and that’s all we needed from our guys,” said Johnson.

Jimmie Johnson, winner of Sunday's Phoenix Cup race.

“We saw at Texas that anything can happen, and we’re going out next week to do the same thing we did today. We won’t be racing conservatively, because when you’re in the middle of the pack, that’s the worst place to be.”

Johnson came to Phoenix with a 73-point lead over his teammate Mark Martin.

He left town with a 108-point lead. All Johnson has to do is finish 25th or better next week at Homestead, and he will become the first driver to win four consecutive Sprint Cup championships.

Much of the credit for Johnson’s success goes to Chad Knaus, the crew chief on Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet.

“We try to do what we did today every race,” said Knaus. “But we knew we had to come to Phoenix and have a solid run. I know Mark had us in his sights, but we were able to stay just ahead of him, and that’s what we needed to do.”

If Johnson gets his fourth Cup championship, it will be the ninth one for Rick Hendrick.

“It’s kind of tough to watch teammates race each other, but winning the championship is what we start out to do at the beginning of the year,” said Hendrick. “All the guys have shared information all year. We go to Texas, Jimmie gets wrecked and all the guys from the other teams helped get his car back together. That’s what got us here.”

Mark Martin ran up front most of the race and finished fourth.

“It was a great effort by this race team today,” said Martin. “We gave it everything we had. The car was a little vulnerable on the restarts, and we lost some spots. The car was very good on the long runs.

“I thought we could get to Jimmie with 35-to-go, then it just got tight and fizzled out.”

Jeff Gordon finished ninth and is now 169 points behind Johnson.

“I know at the start, Mark and I were able to drive right to the front. I thought we were going to be great, but the cars just got away from us,” said Gordon.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had another rough weekend. During the middle of the race, he lost control of his car and slipped down onto the Turn 4 apron, collecting Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and seven other drivers. He finished 35th.

Top-10 finishers: 1. Johnson, 2. Jeff Burton, 3. Denny Hamlin, 4. Mark Martin, 5. Martin Truex Jr., 6. Kurt Busch, 7. Clint Bowyer, 8. Juan Montoya, 9. Jeff Gordon, 10. David Reutimann.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 35 of 36: 1. Johnson-6492, 2. Martin-6384, 3. J. Gordon-6323, 4. Kurt Busch-6281, 5. Stewart-6207, 6. Montoya-6203, 7. Biffle-6171, 8. Hamlin-6140, 9. Newman-6081, 10. Kahne-6016, 11. Edwards-5972, 12. Vickers-5826.


Carl Edwards dominated on the way to winning Saturday’s Nationwide race at Phoenix, denying Kyle Busch the championship, but now all Busch has to do is start next week and he will win his first Nationwide championship.

While Busch has enjoyed the kind of Nationwide campaign that most of his competitors would envy, he hasn’t enjoyed finishing second so often. As far as he’s concerned, his series-high eight victories have been somewhat tainted by the fact that he has finished second a whopping 11 times.

“I’ve wished that we would have been further ahead than where we are right now,” Busch said of the points standings. “I would have liked to have wrapped the championship up a few weeks earlier, but we are where we are. Given the 11 second-place finishes, it’s tough, and it’s frustrating when you get those, but you know it’s a good points day. You know after you recognize it on the plane ride home … it was a good day, but you’re still mad you didn’t get to take the trophy home.”

Top-10 leaders after 34 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-5487, 2. Edwards-5297, 3. Keselowski-5242, 4. Leffler-4431, 5. Bliss-3960, 6. Allgaier-3946, 7. S. Wallace-3860, 8. Keller-3831, 9. Gaughan-3784, 10. Annett-3498.


Ron Hornaday clinched his fourth Truck championship after finishing fourth at Phoenix, and at 51-years of age, became NASCAR’s oldest champion.

Hornaday raced conservatively in order to maintain his 197-point lead over Matt Crafton, the second-place driver in points.

“I knew that all we needed do was come home in the top-five, and that’s what we did,” said Hornaday.

Hornaday’s truck owner, Kevin Harvick won the race.

Top-10 leaders after 24 of 25: 1. Hornaday-3817, 2. Crafton-3602, 3. Skinner-3452, 4. Bodine-3277, 5. Sauter-3193, 6. Scott-3180, 7. Braun-3168, 8. Starr-3125, 9. Peters-3124, 10. Crawford-3049.


Like all families, Brian France has his own personal problems that he would like to sweep under the family carpet. France, the NASCAR chairman filed a civil complaint against his ex-wife, Megan France, last year, a few months after the couple divorced in Florida. They married in California in 2005.

France’s lawyers persuaded Mecklenburg County, NC, Judge Todd Owens to seal the court file from public inspection, an unusual move in a court system that typically allows widespread access to courtrooms and documents. On Friday, France's attorneys petitioned a Mecklenburg judge to bar the public from the courtroom.

We’ll have more on this as it unfolds, because even NASCAR’s chairman shouldn’t be above public scrutiny.

Weekend Racing: The final race of the season will be held this weekend at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway and involves all three of NASCAR’s major series.

Fri., Nov. 20, Camping World Trucks Ford 200, Starting time: 7:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.

Sat., Nov. 21, Nationwide Series Ford 300. Starting time: 4 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN2.

Sun., Nov. 22, Sprint Cup Ford 400, Starting time: 2:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: ABC.

Racing Trivia Question: When did Homestead-Miami Speedway open?

Last Week’s Question: Which driver has the most Sprint Cup championships? Answer. Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr., each have seven championships.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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