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Sports Columns

Friday, March 19, 2010

This past Tuesday marked the end of the TIMES NEWS area basketball season.

Both the Marian boys and Tamaqua girls dropped close games in the second round of the state playoffs to close out the 2009-10 campaign.

With the season just completed, it's time to hand out some unofficial awards.

Below are a few of our picks. One quick note the Players of the Year will be named at a later when the TIMES NEWS announces its seasonal awards.

Boys Team of the Year

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua's Garth Lakitsky came home from the PIAA Wrestling Championships with a 2A fourth place medal, best among the TIMES NEWS contingent that made it to Hershey.

The 2010 PIAA Wrestling Championships are now history.

On one level, it was a tough tournament for Lehigh Valley wrestlers, who for the first time since 1966 failed to crown a State champion. In Class AA, Liberty's Anthony Marino and Nazareth's Zach Horan each finished second, while in AA, Bethlehem Catholic's Randy Cruz and Kyle Dehaut had to settle for silver.

In fact, the only District 11 gold medal came from Blue Mountain senior Josh Kindig, who won for the second time. Eagles' teammate Corey Keener ended up placing second.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Less than two months ago, a Palmerton Area High School sophomore committed suicide. Word spread through the junior high school the next day, and many who knew the boy agonized over the loss.

This agony seemed to dredge up awful fears and memories in others, creating a classic example of the ripple effect. Tears begot tears, and by midday any attempts at school work were useless.

As kids sat in small groups comforting one another, more than once I heard the question asked.

Why?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Athletic directors are kind of like referees in a way. When they're doing a good job they usually go unnoticed. But when things go wrong, they're the ones out front dealing with problems.

Whether it's the unavoidable postponing and rescheduling of games during bad weather or when there are issues with coaches, players or parents, a school's athletic director is the person who has to find solutions.

"Sometimes our job is thankless," said Stroudsburg's Beth Ross. "That's why ADs are such a tight-knit group. Because no one really knows what we do except each other."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Districts and Regionals are completed, and Hershey looms ahead for 10 TIMES NEWS area wrestlers this week.

Those elite 10 will now get to navigate the rough waters of the PIAA State Championships, beginning Thursday at the Giant Center.

Four wins are what it takes to sail to the top of the 16-man brackets, but each match is a treacherous turn, with another top grappler battling to advance and to send another opponent tumbling into the consolation rounds.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Before you read on, take a moment or two and answer the following question: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

That question is the fifth of 19 that constitute what's know as Proust's Questionnaire, a feature found in each issue of Vanity Fair for more than 15 years. It's named after French novelist Marcel Proust for he felt that answering the questions ones that originally started as a parlor game in France revealed your true nature.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Over the next 24 hours, three TIMES NEWS area teams will play for District 11 basketball championships.

It's been almost a quarter of a century since the area has had at least three District champs. The last time that occurred was in 1986 when the Panther Valley boys and Marian girls won Class AA titles and the Weatherly boys and girls both won Class A crowns.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
BOB FORD/times news Panther Valley's 103 pounder Nick O'Donnell (top) won a silver medal at districts this past weekend and is one of 24 TIMES NEWS area grapplers to qualify for regionals.

District 11 wrestlers are at the midway point on the Road to Hershey this weekend as Regional competition looms.

The District tournaments are now history, and the survivors are headed for their respective Regionals, which is a chance for them to test their skills in interdistrict competition.

For Class AA matmen, this week's attention is turned toward Wilson (West Lawn) High School near Reading and the PIAA Southeast Regional with Districts 1 and 3.

For AAA grapplers, it's a trip to Bethlehem Freedom for the Northeast AAA Regional with Districts 2 and 4.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Although I rarely go to movies in theaters (last time was 1989 to see "Rainman") or even rent them, I find myself reading every best-of-the-year movie list I find. The same is true for best-of-the-year lists of music CDs (which I rarely buy) and theater productions (which I rarely attend).

Call it vicarious living if you will, but for some reason I'm drawn to best-of lists.

The same is true for articles that predict the trends for the upcoming year, especially the ones about health and fitness. I've probably read a dozen or so for 2010, and I feel the need to respond.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS JIm Thorpe's Dillon Smith wrestles Mike Priest of Wyomissing during last year's AA Regionals..

Earlier this season, Dillon Smith reached a milestone that will keep any wrestler wearing Jim Thorpe's red, white and blue chasing him for awhile.

The senior 145 pounder is now the Olympians' all-time winningest wrestler with 133 victories.

That puts him in select company in the Thorpe grappling annals, as he has surpassed Mike Wernett, a 2000 graduate who had 115 career wins; Ryan Bennick, a 2003 alumnus, who had 106; Shawn Bradley, a 2007 grad, who had 105; and his brother Ethan, who graduated with exactly 100 in 2007.