Haymaker Hammerheads claim 3rd straight Monroeville Invitational title
The Monroeville Invitational swim meet has been a summer tradition for five decades, and the competition and fellowship continued July 13 at Garden City pool.
More than 300 swimmers ages 5 to 18 from the five Monroeville club teams — Bel-Aire, Garden City, Gateway Heights, Haymaker and Park — took part in 30 events at the 50th annual event for local bragging rights.
“This is an amazing event each year, and it shows the dedication of numerous families and volunteers coming together to make it happen,” said Monroeville Mayor Nicholas Gresock, who, along with state Rep. Brandon Markosek, was on hand to offer congratulations to the participants and present the team trophies.
“There was a lot of great sportsmanship. Everyone wants to see this event continue in Monroeville for another 50 years,” Gresock said.
Invitational officials always hope for good weather — at least no rain — and this year, rain was nowhere to be found, and the sun was out and high in the sky.
By the end of the meet, temperatures rose into the mid 80s.
“The credit for this successful meet each year goes to the parents, the kids, the coaches and volunteers all being a team and making it a team effort,” Markosek said. “When that happens, everyone has a good time, and it’s a lot of fun.”
The Haymaker Hammerheads scored 301 team points and came away with their third straight invitational title and fourth in five years.
Haymaker coaches Kathy Bernardi and Brad Myser jumped in the pool for a celebration swim with their team after being crowned the victors.
“It was very hot today, so the water felt good. But it also felt good to win,” Bernardi said. “We’ve had injuries, and some kids were not able to swim for a bunch of reasons. A number of the kids really stepped up and did better than expected.
“The kids love this meet because it’s all the kids from Gateway in one place. They see their friends, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great tradition.”
The battle for second place was close as Bel-Aire (222 points) edged Gateway Heights (217) and Park (2016). Garden City placed fifth with 108 points.
In addition to the competition, a group of 12 seniors who recently graduated from Gateway and Penn-Trafford high schools were honored.
They are, from Gateway Heights: Ashley Botti and Conor Farren; from Park: John Fisher, Jenna Guido, Mary Kromka, Mike Reynolds and Bryce Sukel; from Garden City: Ciarra Hagerich, Randy Montgomery and Amanda Pugliano; and from Haymaker: Marc Migliorini and Hannah Muro.
Meet director Stacy Mazak said planning for the meet each year begins as soon as the current one ends.
“We are always looking for ways to make this a better invitational for everyone,” Mazak said.
Representatives from the five Monroeville clubs gather during the Eastern Swim Association’s end-of-season meeting to discuss what was done well at that year’s invitational and what can be improved for upcoming meets.
“We bring that feedback back to the board and the parents,” Mazak said. “We listen to positives and negatives.”
The Monroeville teams now are preparing for the season-ending Division I and II championship meets set for Saturday, July 27, at Forest Hills and Garden City pools.
Bel-Aire, Gateway Heights and Haymaker will do battle at the Division I meet at Forest Hills with Meadowink, Murrysville and Forest Hills.
Garden City will host Park, as well as Blackridge, Edgewood, Rosedale and White Oak, in Division II.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-856-7400 x8632, [email protected] or via Twitter .