Good Thursday to you all!
I hope all who braved the showers and sometimes heavy bursts of rain from Wednesday have dried. It took a while for me to at work, but I sure was thankful I had my rain resistant windbreaker. I admit I looked a bit uncomfortable, much like my favorite disheveled detective Columbo replacing his tattered and worn coat for a new one, but the time had come to replace the old. Enduring the wet weather, and adjusting to loosen up a new jacket, certainly was worth it as Lakeland and Dunmore gave terrific and emotional efforts in a terrific girls meet at Dunmore Veterans Memorial Stadium.
So far this season, I have seen the Wallenpaupack-North Pocono boys meet come right down to the wire with teammates going crazy for each event, and now this showdown in girls track and field and it came on the heels of the Wallenpaupack vs. Western Wayne girls contest which many who saw it are saying was the best dual meet they have seen in a long time.
Anyone who doesn’t think track and field is a team sport, needs to attend one of these meets, when teammates line the final straight away, scream and yell words of encouragement with every stride, and gather at the finish line — catching first- and second-place finishers before they wearily fall to the track. If you don’t get choked up, you aren’t a sports fan.
Yes, Lakeland and Dunmore put on another outstanding track and field competition for the 2017 season. It’s actually the second straight nip-and-tuck clash where the outcome of each event and the crucial placing of finishers could have swung momentum. And the athletes knew it.
A frustrating rain kept dumping on the afternoon, but it could not dampen the spirit of the meet. Lakeland got off to a very good start with a win in the 3,200-meter relay. Then, Lakeland’s Madison Harding powered her way to a win in the 100 hurdles in a more driving rain and finished with a time of 15.40 on the fully automatic timing system at Dunmore. With the conditions as they were, that is an outstanding time in an event where a slick track could cause a wipeout in an instant. Dunmore’s Gillian Coar stormed to a win in the 100, again in a relentless rain. Her time clocked in at 12.70, again on the FAT system. Both performances by All-Region performers set the tone. This was going to be one of those special meets where the stars came to shine.
As I slowly walked toward the long and triple jump areas, I really took in the atmosphere. There was genuine tension on the infield. You could sense that the athletes from Dunmore were looking forward to facing the four-time defending Division III champions after last season’s 82-68 loss.
Once at the, how can I say this, generous landing pit at Dunmore, Lakeland’s Brooke Estadt took the runway. She sprinted down the runway, hit the board almost perfectly and leaped into the sand. To the trained eye like mine, I could see it was a dandy. The official yelled out, “17 feet, 7 inches.” Well, that set a school record, brought a smile to Estadt’s face, and really got the Lady Chiefs moving.
- Brooke Estadt is a three-time All-Region selection and has Lakeland school records in the long jump (17-7), the triple jump (38-0) and the 800 (2:24.07).
Despite all the commotion, Dunmore stayed poised. Nicole Marzzacco won the 1,600 and, as Lakeland’s team of Corah Krantz, Cassie Stracham, Jessica Beecroft and Brooke Longstreet surprised everyone with a win in the 400 relay, Mikayla Marino, Lakeland’s All-Region performer in the field delivered some good news and some bad. She had won the shot put with a career-best mark of 36 feet, 5.5 inches, but — and track coaches hate to hear the word but — she had uncharacteristically fouled three times in the discus. Wet conditions can really distract an athlete in the discus. Clearly, the Lady Chiefs did not project (and listen every track coach projects the score) that outcome in an event where Marino is one of the best in the district. I couldn’t help but respect her demeanor, though. On a day where the intensity was heating up in a pressure cooker, the talented sophomore said, “I tried my best.” It was a refreshing, calm response, so I made a note of it, because I could just tell, I was going to need it.
Just as Lakeland coaches found out about the discus result, Coar and her cousin, Emma Coar, swiped the first two places in the 400. Another huge momentum shift. Combine the eight points earned there with the unexpected eight points in the discus, and Dunmore outscored the Lady Chiefs, 16-2, in the blink of an eye and the heat was on full throttle.
Lakeland’s one-two punch of Estadt and Harding — the two who received the baton from Cassidy Jenkins and anchors of
this dynasty — responded like seniors who have been in this spot before in their careers. Estadt led a sweep of the high jump by clearing 5-0. She also had a win in the triple jump with a season-best distance of 36-11. That pushed the Lady Chiefs to a 14-5 advantage on the scoreboard. Harding ran her best time of the season in the 300 hurdles, coming across in 47.5 just as the rain picked up, again. Then, Estadt jumped on the track for the 800 in a shocking coaching move by the Lakeland staff. She hadn’t run that distance since last season. Dunmore’s savvy athletes realized this to be a calculated move that could — if the meet came down to the final event in the 1,600 relay — would weaken Lakeland’s team. Estadt made the gamble pay off, winning in a time of 2:33.4. Harding followed up on a quick turnaround and held second place splitting the Coars — Gillian and Emma. Ahh, but that relay still had an aura of uncertainty, especially with Harding still nursing a sore hip.
Meanwhile, Krantz won the pole vault, and was the only athlete to clear a height. Dunmore got another win in the distance races as Marzzacco took the 3,200. After 16 wildly competitive events, Lakeland held a 71-61 lead and needed 3 points to secure the overall win. A win in the 1,600 relay and a first- and second-place finish in the javelin by Dunmore would push it to the victory. And remember, that 1,600 relay for Lakeland had two starters out because of earlier strategic moves, and another being ill. Things were dicey. Harding jogged up to the javelin. Now everyone’s attention would be split, focusing on the event on the track and the javelin being held just outside the stadium.
On the first leg, Krantz, a past district champion in the relay, gave the Lady Chiefs the early lead.
Moments earlier, Marino returned to the track after wrapping up a win in the javelin with a season-best mark of 97-9 on her third and final throw. That, and Harding’s second-place finish, gave the Lady Chiefs an insurmountable 79-61 lead. That did not distract the Lady Chiefs on the track.
Freshman Haley Hunsinger and junior Jessica Beecroft (talk about getting thrown into the fire) stayed within striking distance as the Lady Bucks stable of sprinters tried to pull away. Longstreet then chewed up a deficit with each stride, and gave one final sprint as her teammates cheered her through the finish line in a more than worthy time of 4:22.5. Lakeland won the race and came away with an 84-62 victory. And both teams left everything they had out on the track and in the field.
- Lakeland has won 30 straight dual meets. It’s the program’s second such streak, having won 33 straight from 1995 to 1998.
Here are some highlights:
It may not have had the suspense of the Wallenpaupack-Western Wayne meet, but it certainly did not lack drama. I’d say the LTC is alive and well, and full of these really memorable moments.
And that is a credit to the kids and the coaches who pour their hearts and souls into the sport.
Also on Wednesday, Holy Cross earned its first win of the LTC Division III season. Let’s be fair, whoever put this schedule together had Holy Cross open against Lakeland and Dunmore. That’s not an easy start to say the least. But, against Riverside, the Lady Crusaders had too much talent. The distance running depth of Lexi Walsh, Abby Corrigan, Abby Guziewicz and Molly Repecki dominated, Jillian Warabak controlled the hurdle events, and Madison Ware swept the throwing events. Take note: Holy Cross will be a major factor at the Jordan Relays, the Robert Spagna Championships and the District 2 Class 2A Championships. There is a very strong team.
Susquehanna defeated Blue Ridge, 92-51. Now having to compete up in Susquehanna County can lend itself to track fans losing sight of the success of the programs. Don’t sleep on the Lady Sabers. Teresa Covert, a former multiple-time state champion, has energized the group as a coach, and her daughter Skyla Wilson let’s her running do her talking for her. Against rival Blue Ridge, Wilson won the 100, 200 and 400 where she ran a time of 1:00.24 (converted) — the best in the entire LTC.
That brings me to my next point. How about the outstanding athletes at Western Wayne, Lakeland, Dunmore, Holy Cross and now Susquehanna in Class 2A? Pretty good stuff, right there. All are great, well-coached programs, and will fuel a postseason, I truly can’t wait to cover.
Dates to remember
- May 4: 62nd Jordan Relays at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
- May 9: Robert Spagna Championships at at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
- May 15: District 2 Class 2A Championships at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
- May 16: District 2 Class 3A Championships at at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
While the girls meet took center stage, the boys meet between Lakeland and Dunmore had some intrigue early, but eventually the Chiefs prevailed, 105-45.
Cy Babcanec won the 100, 200, 400 and ran on the 400 relay. That schedule can be daunting considering three of his races are held in a seven-event span. It’s all about the training. Matt Pidgeon supplied the final exclamation point, erasing a 20-meter deficit in his final 400-meter leg of the 1,600 relay to finish Lakeland’s win. What is interesting here is, Lakeland is down three valuable starters. Junior Logan Bednash is on the shelf with a concussion after suffering a fall in the hurdles at the Icebreaker Relays, sophomore sprinters Tyler Prudente and Jerry Borosky, who got off to fast starts to their careers, are both nursing very tricky muscle injuries. If the Chiefs can’t get a lift from Mr. Miyagi and get healthy, their focus will shift in the postseason. But the team is still talented, and young as freshman Noah Chup picked up a couple of wins in the 1,600 and 800 against Dunmore.
- Holy Cross earned its first win of the season, beating Riverside, 76-65. Like the girls program, the Crusaders have some talented athletes who will be heard from in the postseason. Andrew Healey is an outstanding freshman distance runner, and senior Matt Nelson is one of the best jumpers in the conference.
In defeat, Riverside’s Donnie Clark won the shot, discus and javelin. He is a returning district champion in the shot and is one of those athletes who has high expectations in the postseason.
- Blue Ridge earned a 69-53 win over Susquehanna. Keep an eye on Hunter Conklin in the sprints for Blue Ridge. He is a returning District 2 Class 2A medal winner in the dashes.
As the regular season heads into its final two weeks, here are the qualifying standards for athletes who are aiming to compete at the District 2 Track and Field Championship meets, provided graciously by Mike Ognosky, District 2 track and field chairperson Danielle DePietro and piaad2.org.
As a track and field beat writer, you couldn’t ask for a better two weeks. The athletes in the LTC never cease to amaze me. Year-in and year-out their performances leave me amazed. The overall team efforts is what makes this special, as well. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much these LTC division titles and the precious winning streaks of programs means to the athletes.
Quick recap on those streaks:
- Abington Heights Lady Comets: 66 straight dual-meet wins.
- Lakeland Lady Chiefs: 30 straight dual-meet wins.
- Lakeland Chiefs: 29 straight dual-meet wins.
- Montrose Meteors: 22 straight LTC Division IV dual-meet wins.
Abington Heights and North Pocono are solid No. 1 teams at this point. Both are undefeated and have been impressive. This week, Abington Heights (3-0) will host Valley View (3-0) on Tuesday in a battle of Division I undefeated teams. Valley View is one of the feel-good stories of the season with its fast start. North Pocono (3-0) will host undefeated Delaware Valley (3-0), also on Tuesday. I will flip a coin to see where I am headed. The winners of those meets will clinch at least a tie for their respective division championships.
- Lakeland’s girls team moved up a notch to No. 3 after beating preseason favorite Dunmore in Division III. Western Wayne also moved up a spot after its terrific effort in a 76-74 loss to Wallenpaupack.
- There was no change in the boys poll as all five teams held serve this week.
1. Abington Heights (3-0). Last rank: 1. Next: Tuesday vs. Valley View (3-0).
- Beat Scranton Prep, 105-45.
2. Wallenpaupack (3-0), Last rank: 2. Next: Tuesday at rival Honesdale (1-2).
- Beat Western Wayne, 76-74.
3. Lakeland (3-0), Last rank: 4. Next: Wednesday at Carbondale Area (0-3).
- Beat Dunmore, 84-62.
4. Western Wayne (2-1), Last rank: 5. Next: Tuesday vs. West Scranton (0-3).
- Lost to Wallenpaupack, 76-74.
5. Dunmore (2-1), Last rank: 3. Next: Wednesday vs. Riverside (2-1).
- Lost to Lakeland, 84-62.
Others: Valley View (3-0), Susquehanna (2-0), Holy Cross (1-2).
1. North Pocono (3-0), Last rank: 1. Next: Tuesday vs. Delaware Valley (3-0).
- Defeated Honesdale, 108-42.
2. Lakeland (3-0), Last rank: 2. Next: Wednesday at Carbondale Area (2-1).
- Defeated Dunmore, 105-45.
3. Delaware Valley (3-0), Last rank: 3. Next: Tuesday at North Pocono (3-0).
- Beat Valley View, 111-30.
4. Wallenpaupack (2-1), Last rank: 4. Next: Tuesday at rival Honesdale (0-3).
- Beat Western Wayne, 82-67.
5. Scranton (2-1), Last rank: 4. Next: Tuesday vs. Scranton Prep (1-2).
- Beat West Scranton, 91-58.
Others: Montrose (2-0), Abington Heights (3-0).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
On Tuesday, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect and school records were crushed. On Wednesday, rain and slight wind pumped the breaks just a bit on school records. Still, there were so many great performances in Week 3 of a season, that believe it or not, is a month away from being just a memory.
Here are some of the athletes other than those stealing headlines who deserve being sited:
Won the 110 hurdles (15.7), 300 hurdles (41.3) and the triple jump (39-6.5) in a win over Scranton Prep and is quickly becoming someone who can make an impact in the postseason.
The Meteors have outstanding athletes and are very deep in the distance races. Mead won the 1,600 (4:36) in a showdown with Matt Kinback and the 800 (2:09) in a win over Lackawanna Trail.
Picked up wins in the long jump (19-11) and triple jump (38-10) and ran on the winning 400 relay and 1,600 relay in a 106-43 win over Carbondale Area to improve to 2-1.
Is quietly emerged as the fastest athlete in the LTC. He edged West Scranton’s Tamon Brown in the 100 (11.24) and won the 200 in a season-best time of 22.54 seconds.
Has been one of the leaders for the Lady Lions, who are off to a 2-0 start in the LTC Division IV. She won the 3,200 (13:57.94) and the javeliln (73-5), and ran on a winning 3,200 relay in an upset win over Montrose, 78-68.
Posted wins in the 300 hurdles (59.2) and the long jump (15-11), and ran on two winning relay teams to help the Lady Sabers to a 2-0 start with a win over Blue Ridge.
Won the 100 hurdles (16.3) and the 300 hurdles (49.2), and helped the 1,600 relay team to a win as the Cougars remained undefeated with a win over Delaware Valley.
Helped the Lady Knights to a 102-47 win over city rival West Scranton with victories in the 1,600 (5:53.34) and the 3,200 (13:04.64).
NEWS AND NOTES
- The North Pocono Twilight Invitational is Friday night. Hopefully, some of the top talent takes in this first-year event. Now, I am no weather expert, however, twilight and Moscow are two terms that send a chill down my spine, figuratively and literally. Look, it’s going to be chilly, and there is a threat for thunderstorms. Be prepared!
- The East Stroudsburg Red & Black Invitational is also set for Friday at East Stroudsburg University. In the past several LTC athletes did well at this meet.
- The third annual Jr. High Relay Rally at Mid Valley will be Saturday. There have 15 teams participating this year at Spartan Stadium.
- Susquehanna is at Lackawanna Trail – MONDAY
- Mountain View will be at Elk Lake – MONDAY
- Montrose will be at Mountain View – APRIL 26
That is all for today.
How spoiled am I with next week’s schedule?
Have a great weekend.