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Saturday turned out to be a day to celebrate championships.
The Elk Lake cross country program made Susquehanna County history by becoming the first boys’ and girls’ sports teams from the same school to capture state championships in the same year. The Warriors and Lady Warriors got the job done on the same day by winning Class AA titles at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships on the Parkview Course in Hershey.
Hours later, the Susquehanna football program produced its first title in 15 years when it won the Lackawanna Football Conference Division 3 championship with an impressive 28-13 victory in a head-to-head meeting with two-time defending champion Old Forge in the regular-season finale at William Emminger Memorial Field in Susquehanna.
PIAA CROSS COUNTRY
Elk Lake became the first school in 23 years to sweep both boys’ and girls’ state cross country championships in the same year when the Warriors and Lady Warriors avenged losses to Holy Redeemer a week earlier by beating out the District 2 champions for titles Saturday in Hershey.
The championships by Elk Lake led a big day for District 2.
District 2 had Elk Lake and Holy Redeemer finish 1-2 in Class AA boys and girls, Tunkhannock place sixth out of 24 in Class AAA boys and Dallas also finish in the top half in 12th out of 24 in Class AAA girls. The local district had 10, most of any district, of the top 50 runners in the Class AA boys’ race.
Elk Lake, which had a third-place finish in between, won its second boys’ title in three years. The Lady Warriors won the first state cross country championship by a Susquehanna County or Lackawanna League girls’ team.
Sisters Maria and Elizabeth Trowbridge led the Elk Lake girls to the championship. Mike Bedell then bounced back from falling ill late in the district race to lead the Warriors to the championship.
The Trowbridge sisters, Bedell, District 2 champion Luke Jones and Sean Carney all added individual medals by finishing in the top 25.
Elk Lake defeated Holy Redeemer, 77-106, in the girls’ race. Central Cambria was a distant third with 180.
Maria Trowbridge posted her second state top-10 finish, moving up from ninth in 2009 to sixth with a time of 19:35. She was second among the 164 runners who were from schools involved in the team championship.
Elizabeth Trowbridge, a freshman, was 11th overall and seventh among scoring teams in 19:48.
All seven members of the team champs are underclassmen. Maria Trowbridge and Abby Zdancewicz are the only juniors.
Kirsten Hollister, one of four sophomores in the lineup, was 36th, including 18th among team runners in 20:45.
Lainey Bedell was 48th, 24th for team scoring, in 20:56. Zdancewicz was 54th, 26th in team, in 21:03. Emily Williams was 81st, 36th in team, for 21:24. Cassie Salsman was 124th, 56th in team, in 21:54.
Holy Redeemer had Rachel Sowinski in fifth place and reigning District 2 champion Marissa Durako in 12th.
Blue Ridge senior Allison Hall, a state medalist last year and a two-time District 2 champion, closed out her career by finishing 43rd in 20:49.
Montrose’s Samantha Bennici was 130th in the 283-runner field in 21:58. Teammate Allison Lewis was 215th in 23:14.
Mike Bedell’s second state medal led the Warriors to the boys’ title, 102-116, over Holy Redeemer. Quaker Valley was third with 154.
Bedell, sophomore Luke Jones, Sean Carney and Jeff Horvath were all in the top 17 among 159 runners from scoring teams.
A week after being unable to finish a race, Bedell was fourth among team runners and seventh overall in 16:49. That was an improvement from 23rd last year.
Jones was eighth and 17th in 16:59; Sean Carney was 11th and 24th in 17:08 and Horvath was 17th and 37th in 37:26.
Bryan Grosvenor, running in his fourth state championship race, clinched the title when he crossed the finish line in 62nd and 148th place in a time of 18:28.
Bedell, Grosvenor and Will Bennett have been in the lineup together the last three years when Elk Lake went first-third-first at the state championships.
Bennett was two seconds behind Grosvenor in 67th and 153rd place.
Sophomore Seth Carney completed the team in 86th and 180th in a time of 18:44.
Trinity’s Tommy Gruschow was first in 16:30.
Two Susquehanna County runners qualified for the race as individuals.
Blue Ridge’s Jacob Hinkley was 62nd overall in 17:42 and Montrose’s Ryan Martin was 138th overall in 18:24.
North East from District 10 in the Erie area is the only other school to sweep both cross country titles in the same season. It did so in Class AA in 1982 and 1987.
The state Class AA boys’ championship has been won by a District 2 school eight of the last 12 years and a Lackawanna League school seven of the last 11.
LACKAWANNA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
Matching up with Old Forge physically has been the biggest obstacle for small-school opponents through 14 straight wins that led the Blue Devils to two straight LFC Division 3 titles and to the brink of a third.
Susquehanna conquered that challenge and remained in control throughout most of the 28-13 victory the Sabers used to claim their first regular-season title since 1995.
“This was sweet,” Sabers coach Dick Bagnall said. “This was our season.
“We wanted to win the division. Next week is the next season. We wanted to get this season over by winning the division.
“Whatever happens from here is gravy.”
The Sabers defense continued its stellar season by shutting the Blue Devils down early in the game and forcing turnovers late.
The offense followed one of those turnovers with a championship-producing, 97-yard scoring drive that carried from the third into the fourth quarter.
“They wanted it more than our kids did,” Old Forge coach Mike Schuback said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Defense established the intensity the Sabers carried into the meeting of teams with perfect division records going into the regular-season finale.
Old Forge was unable to manage a first down on its first five possessions. Three ended in punts, one in a Dan Kempa interception and another with a two-yard loss when Nick Marco broke into the Old Forge backfield to blow up a fourth-and-one gamble from Blue Devils territory.
“Our defense was really prepared for their offense,” Bagnall said.
The Sabers offense did its part with two first-half sprints down the field, a long touchdown run and an impressive long drive.
Susquehanna went 57 yards in four plays to start the game.
Greg Price had back-to-back 13-yard runs. Kempa ran five yards then went the final 26 for a touchdown and 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
Old Forge tied the game 3:51 before halftime after using special teams to change field position. The Blue Devils needed to move only 20 yards to score on Michael Tagliaferri’s 7-yard run to force a 7-7 tie.
Susquehanna still had time to move 81 yards in eight plays and regain the lead with 54 seconds left in the half.
Kempa ran three times for 29 yards then threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Austin Cowperthwait, who shielded a defender before going up to catch the ball in the end zone.
The Sabers wound up with two touchdowns in 2:12 of playing time, separated by halftime.
They scored on the third play of the second half when Cole Mallery took an option pitch and raced 64 yards for a 21-7 lead.
Mallery intercepted a pass at 3 in the third quarter, setting up the drive that broke the game open.
One incomplete pass was all that slowed the steady march up field. The Sabers gained yardage on the 13 other plays, all runs, including 11 of five or more yards.
Price started the drive with an 11-yard run. Marco went up the middle for seven on third-and-three and Mallery went around the end for 11 on third-and-four. Kempa ran on four out of five plays at one point, chewing up 15, 11, 4 and 8 yards.
Mallery finished the drive after more than six minutes with a 7-yard run for a 28-7 lead.
“What was really important was when we drove (97) yards for that touchdown,” Bagnall said. “That broke their backs.”
Back-up quarterback Colin Carey had 44 of Old Forge’s 51 third-quarter yards on one run. He had 64 of the Blue Devils’ 66 fourth-quarter rushing yards on another run for a touchdown to close the deficit to 28-13.
Even with those two runs, Susquehanna finished with a 289-150 advantage in rushing yards and 326-196 lead in total yards.
The Sabers had a time of possession lead of 30:28-17:32. They also led in first downs, 17-6, including 15-3 over the first three quarters.
Kempa led a balanced ground game with 24 carries for 95 yards. Mallery carried eight times for 74 yards, Marco carried 12 times for 67 yards and Price carried nine times for 55 yards.
The ground game received a boost from left guard Mark Willchock, who played despite a torn anterior cruciate ligament that will require his second reconstructive knee surgery.
“He’s going to have to have surgery again, but his surgeon gave him clearance to play one game,” Bagnall said. “He played well.
“Here’s a player who’s never been able to finish a season in four years because of injuries. He was so looking forward to possibly playing in college.
“To come back and finish and be part of a game to win a championship is pretty nice.”
The championship was the first for the Sabers since they were Suburban Conference co-champs and District 2-12 Class A champions in 1995, one year after their run to the state Class A semifinals.
“I’m glad to see Susquehanna football back a little bit to where it was in the ‘90s and back in the early ‘80s,” Bagnall said. “It’s nice to be back.
“It’s nice to get some respect.”
The defense has helped earn that respect all season.
Jesse Pruitt led the way with seven tackles and three assists Saturday.
George Wilkes, Marco, Mallery, Sean Stanley and Kempa all had big games while helping hold Old Forge to 7-for-22 passing for just 48 yards with three interceptions.
Wilkes had two sacks for 18 yards in losses among his five tackles and an assist.
Marco had four tackles, including two for losses, along with three assists and a rush that forced the passer into an incompletion.
Mallery made two tackles and assisted on another. He intercepted a pass and broke up three others.
Stanley had two tackles, two assists and an interception.
Kempa had two tackles and one assist along with his interception.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Colby Thomas scored a hat trick, including the game-breaking goal on a corner kick with 57.4 seconds left in the half to lift Mountain View to a 4-0 victory over Lakeland in the District 2 Class A boys’ soccer championship game at Dunmore.
Thomas also assisted on Joe Jarrow’s goal to open the scoring less than 10 minutes into the game. He scored two more goals in the second half against the unbeaten Lackawanna League Division 3 champions, who had allowed just seven goals in 14 league games.
Mountain View needed a Greg Adams goal on a penalty kick in the final 10 minutes to get past Elk Lake, 2-1, in the semifinals.
In girls’ soccer, a hat trick by the school’s all-time leading scorer, Hannah Tuffy, lifted Lakeland over Mountain View, 5-1, in the District 2 Class A championship game.
The Lady Chiefs led just 2-1 at halftime.
In girls’ volleyball, Marissa Booth had 13 service points, 11 digs, seven kills and four blocked shots to lead Lackawanna Trail to a 25-18, 25-15, 24-26, 25-11 victory over Mountain View in the District 2 Class A championship match at North Pocono High School.
Kayla Kazmierski led Mountain View with 10 kills, seven digs and two blocks.
Christina Voorheis, who had six digs, and Samantha Knowlton each had six assists for the Lady Eagles.
Mountain View had rallied into the finals with a 24-26, 24-26, 25-23, 25-10, 15-13 victory over Forest City.
Lackawanna Trail downed Blue Ridge, 25-16, 25-12, 26-24, in the other semifinal.
Joey Scanlon, a senior midfielder from Mountain View, ended his Misericordia University career by receiving conference all-star status for the fourth straight year.
Scanlon missed half the season with a knee injury but was still recognized by Freedom Conference coaches as a second-team all-star. In his junior year, Scanlon had been team Most Valuable Player and a first-team all-star with a team-leading 12 goals and four assists.
In 10 games this season, Scanlon had three goals and two assists, bringing his career totals to 24 goals and 14 assists.
Joshua Pfahl, another Mountain View graduate, was a sophomore forward with the Cougars. He played in 18 games, starting three, for Misericordia (12-7). He did not score.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Susquehanna is one of eight LFC teams alive in the District 2 playoffs and one of 10 total in the postseason.
The Sabers will get a shot at avenging their only loss when they play at Lakeland in the District 2 Class AA semifinals. Lakeland won the first game, 35-6, allowing only a late score after putting the game in the Mercy Rule. Lake-Lehman is at Wilkes-Barre GAR in the other semifinal.
Abington Heights, West Scranton and North Pocono made the District 2 Class AAA tournament; Riverside, Old Forge and Dunmore made the District 2 Class A tournament; Valley View qualified for the runner-up Eastern Conference playoffs in Class AAA; and Holy Cross made the Eastern Conference in Class A.
Last week’s predictions were 9-1 (90.0 percent), bringing our final regular-season record to 90-28 (76.3 percent). The predictions will continue until the last LFC team is done in the playoffs. This week’s predictions, with home teams in CAPS: LAKELAND 21, Susquehanna 20; RIVERSIDE 36, Northwest 15; OLD FORGE 21, Dunmore 12; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 35, North Pocono 12; DALLAS 35, West Scranton 32; VALLEY VIEW 20, Coughlin 15; HOLY CROSS 26, Bucktail 15.
In boys’ soccer, the state quarterfinals are scheduled for Saturday. A win in Tuesday’s first round would put Mountain View in the Class A quarterfinals.
In professional hockey, the Binghamton Senators are at the first-place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday in an American Hockey League game.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Hamlin Leads The Sprint Cup Battle
FT. WORTH, Tex. - There’s a new NASCAR Sprint Cup leader and his name is Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin won Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to take the point lead away from Jimmie Johnson with just two races left.
“What a run,” said Hamlin. “We didn’t have a good car at the beginning of the race, but we kept working on it. The team stayed focused and we got it done.”
Denny Hamlin, the new Chase leader.
Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson, and Paul Menard were the remaining top-10 finishers.
Jimmie Johnson’s 10th-place finish dropped him to second, 33 points behind Hamlin.
“It was a long day,” said Johnson. “We gave away so many positions early in the race. It didn’t work out today. We’ll just try to come back next week. We’re doing the best we can.”
Jeff Burton got into the rear of Jeff Gordon during a caution on lap 200, knocking Gordon into the outside wall, and wrecking Burton’s No. 31.
After the two drivers emerged from their cars, Gordon’s temper flared and he shoved and even swung a fist at Burton, before officials were able to restrain him.
“I pulled up next to him,” said Burton. “He turned left. I turned left and we just hung up, and off we went. It was my fault. I didn’t mean to hit him.”
Both drivers wound up with DNF’s.
“We went down into turn-3 and I went wide,” said Gordon. “I guess he was frustrated the way his car was handling or something. He just drove up next to me and put me into the wall.
“Out of all the drivers out there, I never thought Jeff would do something like that.”
After the incident, Gordon’s entire pit crew was transferred to Johnson’s No. 48, replacing that team.
“You’ve got to remember, we are all Hendrick teams,” said Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus. “We’re doing the best we can to win a championship. The 24-team was a little faster today, and that’s why we brought them over to the 48-car.”
Kyle Busch finished 33rd, three laps down. He was penalized a lap for giving a NASCAR official the “bird.”
Top-12 Chase contenders with two to go: 1. Hamlin-6325, 2. Johnson-6292, 3. Harvick-6266, 4. Edwards-6008, 5. Kenseth-6000, 6. J. Gordon-5994, 7. Kyle Busch-5986, 8. Stewart-5962, 9. Biffle-5953, 10. Clint Bowyer-5928, 11. Kurt Busch-5890, 12. Burton-5852
EDWARDS BEATS BUSCH AT TEXAS
Carl Edwards derailed Kyle Busch’s drive for a sixth straight NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Busch dominated early in the 205-lap race, which was extended five laps from its originally scheduled distance by a green-white-checkered finish, as he lead four times for a race-high 107 laps. But with less than 50 laps remaining, Busch’s once dominant car began to tighten up around the 1.5-mile oval, opening the door for pole-sitter Edwards to take the lead on lap 155.
Busch hung tough in second, holding off a hard-charging Brad Keselowski. Joey Logano, Martin Truex, Jason Leffler, Reed Sorenson, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, and Steve Wallace rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Keselowski’s third-place finish was enough to insure him the 2010 Nationwide championship.
Top-10 points leaders after 33 of 35: 1. Keselowski-5314, 2. Edwards-4849, 3. Kyle Busch-4619, 4. Allgaier-4402, 5. Menard-4205, 6. Harvick-4044, 7. Bayne-3765, 8. Leffler-3743, 9. Logano-3717, 10. S. Wallace-3688
TEXAS TRUCK RACE GOES TO BUSCH
Kyle Busch blew past Todd Bodine on a restart on Lap 127 and held off Johnny Sauter over the final 20 laps to win Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Bodine chose the outside lane for the final restart, but Busch cleared Bodine’s No. 30 Toyota through Turns 1 and 2 and held the lead the rest of the way.
Sauter came home second, followed by Matt Crafton and Bodine, the series points leader. Bodine increased his margin to 230 points over seventh-place finisher Aric Almirola with two races left in the season. Bodine can clinch his second series championship by finishing fourth or better next week at Phoenix.
Busch’s seventh win in 14 starts this season gives him 23 career victories in the series.
“On that last restart there I got a good jump,” Busch said. “I got a good jump and didn’t beat Todd to the line and ended up kind of being alongside him into Turn 1, and I don’t know if my lane just had a better draft or what - we pulled away down the backstretch and held on there.”
Top-10 points leaders after 23 of 25: 1. Bodine-3645, 2. Almirola-3415, 3. Sauter-3341, 4. Crafton-3237, 5. Dillon-3153, 6. Peters-3107, 7. Hornaday-3059, 8. Skinner-2964, 9. Starr-2898, 10. White-2813
ARE CHANGES COMING TO NASCAR
NASCAR's Brian France talked about possible changes coming to the sport and why TV ratings are down last week on Sirius Satellite Radio.
QUESTION: This is what the Chase was supposed to be like (with three drivers so close this late in the season).
BRIAN FRANCE: “It is. It's supposed to, obviously, be very competitive and make it where the driver who is at his best when it really matters, which, of course, is down the stretch. That's what everybody wants to see. We're thrilled that it's turning out that way. This is going to be a telling weekend. Looking forward to kicking off the final three here in Texas this weekend.'”
QUESTION: With the Chase going as well as it is, are there still discussions going on at NASCAR about further tweaks to the Chase or have those been put on the backburner now?
BRIAN FRANCE: “No, I don't think so. I think it's this time of the year when we do a lot of things in terms of looking at what is the best rules package or format in the case of the Chase or whatever it might be. We've announced a few weeks ago going to ethanol and our first biofuel, which is really important for us to keep a slow steady step in the green space and doing what's best for the environment and energy independence. When it comes to the Chase, what we want is big moments where drivers and teams have to be their very best on a given day, that's what creates the atmosphere we want and we'll be looking to make sure we have the perfect format going into 2011.”
Weekend Racing: NASCAR’s three major series will be at the one-mile Phoenix track for the next to last race of the season.
Fri., Nov. 12, Camping World Trucks Lucas Oil 150, race 24 of 25; Starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: Speed.
Sat., Nov. 13, Nationwide Arizona 200, race 34 of 35; Starting time: 4 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.
Sun., Nov. 14, Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 500, race 35 of 36; Starting time: 3 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Where is the first Sprint Cup race of the season held?
Last Week’s Question: Where is the last Sprint Cup race of the season held? Answer. It is held at Homestead, Florida.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
Luke Jones shared the lead with Elk Lake teammate Mike Bedell for much of the District 2 Class AA Boys’ Cross Country Championships.
When misfortune struck his teammate and the leader of the Warriors second straight unbeaten Lackawanna League season, Jones made sure to salvage as much of the day as possible for Elk Lake.
Jones, a sophomore, posted his first varsity victory and led the way as the Warriors held on to the district’s second state qualification berth even after losing Bedell’s potential points when the senior became ill as he approached the finish.
For his efforts, Jones is the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
“Mike and I were leading the race and I thought it was going pretty well,” Jones said. “The 1-2, I knew, would help the team a lot.”
Things changed when Bedell, who wound up being hospitalized for one night, dropped of the lead then collapsed with less than a half-mile remaining.
“I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I knew he wasn’t quite right,” said Jones, who went on to finish his 3.1-mile home course in 16:45 for a 17-second victory over Holy Redeemer’s A.J. Limongelli.
The victory would have qualified Jones as an individual for the state meet, but his effort also helped make sure the Warriors, who finished third a year ago, returned to the state event as a team.
Jones duplicated the district championship he won on the junior high level last year as a freshman.
The distance runner also competes in indoor track in the winter and on Elk Lake’s track team in the spring. As a freshman, he earned an eighth-place medal at the District 2 meet in the 3200-meter run.
Luke is the son of Bill III and Abby Jones of Friendsville.
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