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Issue Home January 6, 2010 Site Home

HEADLINES:
Local Sports Scene
NASCAR Racing


Snee’s All-Pro Status Highlights Year’s Success For County Athletes
By Tom Robinson

Chris Snee’s professional football career reached a new high to start 2009.

The Montrose graduate was honored with his first All-Pro selection and a start in the Pro Bowl. The New York Giants offensive guard started for the National Football Conference in a 30-21 win in the season-ending, all-star game.

All-star status on the highest level of professional sports was out of reach, but many other athletes and teams from Susquehanna County enjoyed significant success in the recently completed year.

Former Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Year Whitney Williams led a group of four county graduates who made it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I national tournaments in their sports.

Williams, a junior from Mountain View, started at shortstop for the University of Massachusetts, which finished the season ranked 14th in the country in softball.

Larry Lundy, a senior from Montrose, was ranked as high as 13th in the country in the shot put, the event in which he qualified for the track and field nationals while throwing for Monmouth University.

Justin Herbert, a Blue Ridge graduate, also finished his career with an individual appearance at nationals. The wrestler was the first to represent Franklin & Marshall in 11 years when he wrapped up a career that included a school record 25 pins.

Erin Keene, a freshman from Blue Ridge, joined Williams in the softball tournament as a member of Ivy League champion Cornell.

Williams led the Atlantic 10 Conference in on-base percentage and ranked in the top 10 in eight offensive categories. Williams and Jocelyn Dearborn, a sophomore third baseman at Fordham University from Blue Ridge, were both second-team Atlantic 10 all-stars.

Two other athletes made the Division III national tournaments with their teams.

Montrose’s Sean Brewer was 8-3 on the mound for the Keystone College baseball team that reached the regional final.

Mountain View’s Joe Scanlon had five game-winning goals and was a second-team regional All-American for his play on the Misericordia University soccer team that reached the tournament.

One year after winning the state Class AA boys’ cross country championship, Elk Lake finished third in the state with the help of a 23rd-place finish by Mike Bedell.

Elk Lake swept both the dual meet and tournament championships in District 2 Class AA wrestling. Anthony Juser was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

The school also won the Class AA title in softball.

Brooke Darling wound up striking out 29 in a four-hitter when Elk Lake lost to Pine Grove, 5-4, in 16 innings in the state playoffs.

Montrose won the District 2 Class AA girls’ soccer championship.

The county teams that won Lackawanna League titles included several with perfect league records.

Elk Lake won the overall league cross country championship when both its boys’ and girls’ teams went 22-0.

Unbeaten division champions were: the Blue Ridge baseball, Forest City boys’ soccer, Montrose golf, Elk Lake wrestling and Blue Ridge girls’ track teams.

The Blue Ridge softball, Elk Lake boys’ basketball, Forest City girls’ basketball and Mountain View boys’ volleyball teams also won division titles while the Elk Lake boys’ track team shared a division championship.

The basketball titles came down to multiple playoffs.

Mountain View won the boys’ first-half title but Elk Lake beat Montrose in a second-half playoff then Mountain View in the all-season championship.

Forest City beat Montrose and Mountain View in a first-half girls’ playoff, then topped second-half champion Mountain View again for the all-season title.

The individual highlight of the high school year came at the state track meet where girls from Montrose, Blue Ridge and Elk Lake combined to earn medals in nine events, finish in the top 10 in two others and pace in the top 14 in a total of 13 events.

Montrose’s Julia Koloski led the way with a silver medal for a second-place finish and two bronzes for third-place finishes. She was second in the triple jump and third in the 100 and 400 relay.

Angela Short, Jacey Blom and Alex Lewis joined Koloski on the third-place relay team helping the Lady Meteors to finish eight in the team points race.

Blue Ridge’s Allison Hall finished fifth in the 800 while joining Meghan Ragard and Lauren Findley for sixth-place finishes in the 1600 and 3200 relays.

Kaitchen Dearborn, the fourth member of the 1600 relay, was eighth in the javelin.

Megan Kleiner was the other member of the 3200 relay team.

Elk Lake freshman Maria Trowbridge was sixth in the 3200 meters.

The Elk Lake 3200 relay team of Cassie Van Etten, Kimberley Caines, Caitie Good and Kelsey Hermick finished seventh.

Montrose’s Cody DeBoer had the only boys’ state medal with a fifth-place finish in the long jump.

Elk Lake’s Trowbridge finished ninth and Blue Ridge’s Hall 11th in the state Class AA girls’ cross country meet.

That came after Hall successfully defended her District 2 title.

Koloski won four district gold medals in track, setting three meet records in the process.

Elk Lake’s Juser, Keaton Bennett, Brent Salsman and Seth Canfield won District 2 wrestling championships along with Mountain View’s Craig Smith and Josh Manzer and repeat champions Mike Pipitone and Alex Stanton of Blue Ridge.

The four individual champions helped Elk Lake win its first district title since 1985.

Forest City’s division title was its first in 16 years. It came with the help of 14 fourth-quarter points and 25 total in the championship game by Cassie Erdmann, who was a third-team Associated Press Class A all-state selection.

The Susquehanna football team did not win any titles, but it did have its first winning record since 2000 by going 6-4.

The Sabers had some special moments along the way when they beat playoff qualifier Wilkes-Barre GAR, 20-14, with the help of a 97-yard touchdown run by Dan Kempa then routed Lake-Lehman, 61-26, when Kempa ran for 305 yards and six touchdowns.

WEEK IN REVIEW

The Montrose boys and Mountain View girls won the Susquehanna County Christmas Tournaments.

Montrose won the tournament then defeated Towanda Saturday to improve to 7-1 overall.

Bill Stranburg scored 17 points to lead Montrose past host Blue Ridge, 55-37, in the tournament final.

Rob Volk added 13 points.

Montrose pulled away after leading by just five at halftime.

Dylan Pruitt led Blue Ridge with 15 points.

The Meteors shut out Elk Lake in the second quarter of the consolation game to open a 12-point halftime lead on the way to a 50-35 victory.

Mark Bush scored 19 points and Steven Rezykowski added 18 when Elk Lake defeated Blue Ridge, 44-31, for third place.

Blue Ridge had defeated Susquehanna, 51-33, in the other semifinal.

Alex Cardoza scored 15 points and Marvin Green 14 for the Raiders in the win.

Susquehanna was led by Brandon Stone with 10 points.

Volk had 22 points when Montrose followed up the tournament title with a 65-47 victory over Towanda.

Kayla Kazmierski scored 20 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors as Mountain View defeated Elk Lake, 58-35, in the girls’ championship game.

Mountain View’s Alex Lynn and Elk Lake’s Keek Morahan had 10 points in the game.

Courtney Collins scored 13 points to help Blue Ridge take third place with a 61-19 victory over Susquehanna.

Ashlee Getter led the Lady Sabers with 11 points.

In other girls’ basketball tournaments, Forest City finished third at the Honesdale Jaycees Tournament and Montrose finished fourth at the Taylor Lions Tournament.

In high school wrestling, Jake Eastman won the 215-pound title to lead Elk Lake to a sixth-place finish out of 21 teams in the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament.

Eastman pinned Eric Laytos of Lackawanna Trail in 4:54 of the final.

Elk Lake’s Josh Ralston (275), Susquehanna’s Tom Maby (135) and Mountain View’s Craig Butler (145) all reached the finals before losing and settling for second.

Towanda beat out Wyalusing, 224-213 1/2, for the team title.

Elk Lake had half of its lineup place in the top eight while finishing sixth with 129.

Keaton Bennett (125) was third, Tyler McCauley (160) was fourth, Derrick Smith (130) and Devin Fiorentino (135) were fifth and Frank Delesky (112) was eighth.

Susquehanna was 17th with 42 1/2 points. Nicholas Vales finished sixth at 130 pounds.

Mountain View was 18th with 38 points.

Montrose was 19th with 36. Ethan Jones led the Meteors with a fifth-place finish at 189 while Zach Thorne was sixth at 160.

Elk Lake then finished the week by winning its own Zurn-Bush Memorial Tournament by going 5-0 in the dual meet format.

The Warriors beat Nanticoke, 55-24, for the title after winning their early matches by an average of 44 points.

Mason Maye, Derek Maye, Bennett, Derrick Smith, McCauley, Brandon Cleveland, Eastman and Ralston each went 5-0 on the day.

In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defeated the visiting Binghamton Senators, 6-3, Wednesday.

The win was one of four straight by the Penguins in five days when they returned from their Christmas break.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored on its first two shots against former Penguins goalie Andy Chiodo. A third goal on eight shots in the first 14 minutes knocked Chiodo out of the game.

The Penguins built the lead to 4-1 after two periods when 10 players produced one point each. Wyatt Smith then scored two goals in the third period.

Two Senators and one Penguin have been selected for the American Hockey League All-Star Game January 19 in Portland, Maine.

All three are forwards, who will play for the Canadian team against players from the rest of the world who make up the PlanetUSA team.

Ryan Keller and Martin St. Pierre will represent the Senators while Dustin Jeffrey represents the Penguins.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The two teams expected to fight for the Lackawanna League Division 3 boys’ basketball title meet Thursday night when Montrose plays at Lackawanna Trail.

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

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NASCAR Racing
By Gerald Hodges

Big News Stories Of 2009

By Gerald Hodges; The Racing Reporter

The two biggest NASCAR news stories of 2009 involved a winner and a loser. The winner was Jimmie Johnson, who streaked to his fourth NASCAR Cup championship. The big loser was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who failed to win a race or make the Chase.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes for a better racing season in 2010

It hadn't been done in the 60-plus year history of NASCAR but Jimmie Johnson raced his way into the record books with his fourth straight Sprint Cup title in 2009. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus became one of the greatest combinations in the history of the sport and team owner Rick Hendrick had his ninth career Cup trophy to put on the mantle. Johnson was also named AP Male Athlete of the Year, the first time a racecar driver had ever won that honor.

As if Johnson's title wasn't enough for Hendrick, the successful owner watched two of his other drivers finish second and third in the standings. Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon followed teammate Johnson in the final Sprint Cup points race for the unprecedented feat.

Anyone who thought Martin had lost any of his driving skill during his two-year limited schedule was sadly mistaken when the timeless veteran roared back in a big way last season with Hendrick Motorsports. Martin was in contention for his first Sprint Cup title all season-long and although he came up short in that bid his remarkable career added another impressive chapter with his performance in 2009. And he'll be back for two more seasons behind the wheel of the potent Hendrick No. 5 entry.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., the sport’s most popular driver suffered through a miserable season in 2009, failing to win a race and finishing 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. Some people said he’s lost his competitive drive, while others say he just can’t drive NASCAR’s new car.

In 2008, he was ranked fourth in points in the 2008 NASCAR regular season, when NASCAR’s new car was in use full time.

So, contrary to popular belief, Earnhardt Jr.’s first year (2008) at Hendrick Motorsports wasn’t all that bad. But last year it was a disaster. It seems inconceivable that a driver that talented, with that good of a team, became that bad, that fast. It seemed as though the bad finishes just kept breeding bad finishes, which can happen to any team or driver caught in a downward spiral.

A lot of sports writers think Earnhardt is too caught up in his other business interests and JR Motorsports to focus on his driving career.

I do know he wants to win, is a very competitive driver, and will do everything within his power to make 2010, a “turnaround” year.

Whether the signing of Danica Patrick by Earnhardt to drive a limited Nationwide Series schedule will help or further detract from his on track racing remains to be seen.

The signing of Patrick finally came to fruition when she announced her plans to join JR Motorsports for a stock car career beginning in 2010. Patrick will stay in the IRL while running about a dozen Nationwide races but she's already given NASCAR a spotlight simply by announcing her plans and taking part in an ARCA test at Daytona. Patrick's story promises to make more headlines in 2010.

It was a great season for Stewart-Haas Racing. Tony Stewart had many doubters when he announced plans to leave Joe Gibbs Racing operation to start his own team but the two-time Sprint Cup champ proved everyone wrong with a solid first year of operation for Stewart-Haas Racing. Both Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman made the Chase and showed they will be contenders for additional improvement in 2010, with a potential championship certainly within the realm of possibility for either driver.

Perhaps one of the most thrilling racing moments was Brad Keselowski’s last lap pass of Carl Edwards to win the spring race at Talladega.

Keselowski and Edwards were in a neck and neck duel to the checkered flag when they made contact. Edwards’ car was sent flying through the air after getting rammed by Ryan Newman and crashed hard into the frontstretch retaining fence before finally coming to a halt on the infield apron. With the field behind him, Keselowski was the winner of the race in only his fifth Sprint Cup Series start. It also gave his team owner, James Finch his first Cup win.

BUD SHOOTOUT HAS CHANGES

NASCAR announced Wednesday a revision to the 2010 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona format that provides fans with a strong lineup of drivers highlighted by last year’s top performers and a collection of previous winners at the sport’s most-storied race track.

The 32nd annual season-opening event launches Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. The new criteria is based upon the following qualifications: The 12 drivers that qualified for the 2009 Chase, past Cup Series champions, past Budweiser Shootout champions, past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 champions, and the reigning Raybestos Rookie of the Year

“We’re always looking at ways to make this event bigger and better for our fans and we believe the new format for the Budweiser Shootout puts together an exceptionally strong lineup of our top drivers,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.

“In our discussions with the track, we thought by placing an additional emphasis on the drivers who had performed well at Daytona over the years would create an even more compelling element for the fans to get excited about at the beginning of the season.”

The race distance will continue to be 75 laps (187.5 miles), consisting of two segments - 25 and 50 laps. Both green-flag laps and yellow-flag laps will count. Between segments there will be a 10-minute pit stop, to allow teams to pit and change tires, add fuel and make normal chassis adjustments. Crews will be permitted to work on cars and will be allowed to perform functions they would do on a normal pit stop in a regular NASCAR Sprint Cup event. All work must be performed on pit road or in the garage. Changing of springs, shock absorbers or rear-ends will not be permitted.

Starting positions will again be determined by a blind-draw on Thursday night, Feb. 4.

The Budweiser Shootout - a “non-points” event for NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors - was first held in 1979, originally known as the Busch Clash. Kevin Harvick won last year’s event.

Drivers eligible for the 2010 Budweiser Shootout include: Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Brian Vickers

Other eligible drivers: John Andretti, Geoff Bodine, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Derrike Cope, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bill Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Joey Logano, Sterling Marlin, Jamie McMurray, Ken Schrader, Michael Waltrip.

Racing Trivia Question: How many Cup teams will Roush Fenway Racing have in 2010?

Last Week’s Question: Which Cup team will Brad Keselowski drive for in 2010? Answer. Penske Racing.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@earthlink.net.

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