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Mitch's Sports Report: History Made At Daytona, But Repeats In Essex For Vermont Gymnastics Champs

A photo finish. A winning margin of zero-point-one-zero seconds. The closest race in the history of the Daytona 500.

Denny Hamlin created all of that yesterday, winning the Daytona by making a move from fourth place to first over the final two miles of the course and edging out Martin Truex, Jr. by a margin so slim it's hard to discern even in the high definition photo that confirmed Hamlin's victory.

Amazingly, Hamlin said the rush on the final lap that moved him from fourth to first was not even intentional. He told ESPN that he was just trying to block a rival driver from gaining the outside lane so that the other Toyota sponsored drivers ahead of him could get a higher finish. But the maneuver unintentionally gave him a surge and an open lane to make his move, one that ended in historic fashion.

The Boston Celtics were surging heading into the all-star break, breathed a sigh of relief when GM Danny Ainge kept the roster intact and made no trades at the deadline, and validated that non-move again by cruising to a 121-101 win over the Nuggets in Denver last night. Isaiah Thomas recorded a double-double of twenty-two points and twelve assists, and Avery Bradley added twenty as the Celtics beat the Nuggets for a fourth consecutive time.

In the NHL, the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings went scoreless for sixty minutes of hockey at Madison Square Garden last night, but Kevin Klein finished off a two-on-one with an overtime goal to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 win, a victory that had to feel extra good not just because it happened in extra time, but because the Rangers had one goal disallowed by video review in the third period, and had Wings goalie Jimmy Howard stop Jesper Fast on a penalty shot late in the game. The Rangers are in a good place right now, winners of seven of their last nine games. The Red Wings do pick up one point for the regulation tie and sit one point behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the tight-as-a-model-in-skinny-jeans Atlantic division. The B's get back to action tonight at home after a six game road trip in which they went four and two, their most recent win and impressive come from behind 7-3 victory over the Dallas Stars, but the Bruins need to start cleaning up their own house, where they have a losing record so far this season. They do get a chance to tidy up tonight when they host the cellar dwellers of the Metropolitan division, the Columbus Blue Jackets, who forced the Bruins to overtime in their contest last week in Ohio.

The state high school gymnastics championships were held over the weekend, and for the song remains the same for the Essex Hornets, who won the state title for the eleventh straight time. The Hornets' Allison Green took home top all-around individual honors after garnering a 9.4 in her signature floor exercise event, just edging out her teammate Abigail Gehsmann. There were other strong individual performances as well from the team that came in second overall, South Burlington, with Diana Gregoire in the running. Northfield’s Mallory Dutil was also putting pressure on Green and South Burlington's Posie Nash-Gibney was a candidate for top honors, but none could quite get past Green. Rounding out the top five teams were Champlain Valley in third, St. Johnsbury came in fourth, and Randolph finished fifth.

In mens' college hockey, the Middlebury Panthers goat goals from Zach Haggerty, Ronald Fishman and Jake Charles, beating Amherst 3-1 on senior day. The Panthers end the regular season as the number five seed heading into the NESCAC tournament, and will travel to Hamilton for a quarterfinal game this Saturday. The news on senior day not nearly as good for UVM as the Catamounts lost 4-1 Friday night against the Boston College Eagles and retain a tentative hold on seventh place in the Hockey East standings heading into their regular final season game against Merrimack.

In the mens' New England Hockey Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday the Norwich Cadets beat Castleton 4-1. The Spartan women have the number two seed in the NEHC tournament, and will host seventh-seeded Plymouth State in the quarterfinal round on Saturday.

Two boys' high school basketball playoff games are on the docket tonight...with semi finals set for number five Woodstock taking on eighth-seeded Mount St. Joseph in Division two play, and in Division four, fourth-seeded South Royalton tips off against number one Twinfield. Both games take place at Barre Auditorium tonight.

And in mens' college hoops UVM got a league win on Saturday, pummeling UMBC 99-54 behind a career-high twenty-four points from Cam Ward. Dre Wills added fifteen in the UVM romp.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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