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Haymaker claims Monroeville Invitational swimming championship

July 21, 2018
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The 49th Annual Monroeville Swin Invitational hosted by the Garden City Swim Club on Saturday, July 14 included swimmers from the Bel-Aire Barracudas, Gateway Heights Gators, Haymaker Hammerheads, Park Sharks and the Garden City Dolphins. Ben Echegarey, 11, and Jack Echegarey, 16, team up for the Garden City Dolphins in the boys 100 yard breaststroke relay. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review

The Monroeville Invitational is one of the longest-running club swim meets in Pennsylvania, and it will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

The lead-in to that milestone was one of the closest finishes in the history of the event.

Haymaker and Gateway Heights went down to the wire July 14 at Garden City Pool, and when the pool water settled for the final time, Haymaker edged its way to the top by four points to claim its second straight championship and third in four years.

“We had ideas it was going to be close,” Haymaker coach Ben Mendez said. “We attempted to score out the meet beforehand based on info we had. There were some really competitive races.”

Haymaker finished with 261 points on the strength of 10 first-place finishes out of the 31 individual and relay events. Gateway Heights, which had won in 2016 and tallied four victories in a row from 2011-14, recorded 257 points.

Bel-Aire captured several first-place finishes and took third with 218 points. Park (177) and Garden City (127) rounded out the team standings.

More than 300 boys and girls took part in the invitational.

“We talked with the kids before the meet about every place and every point being so important,” Mendez said. “We had to fight for every point. Getting a fourth versus a fifth was a huge deal. These bigger meets are a true test of your entire team.”

In addition to the competition, a group of 11 seniors who recently graduated from area high schools, including Gateway and Penn-Trafford, were honored.

They are, from Bel-Aire: Michael Bushnell; from Garden City: Savannah Plaskon and Jake Mears; from Gateway Heights: Luke DiPalma and Adam Wisner; from Haymaker: Mike Holmes, Sydney Smith, Zach Snelling and Mackenna Yakovich; and from Park: John Paul Kromka and David MacMurchy.

The Division I and II dual meets in the Eastern Swim Association concluded last Thursday.

Haymaker finished third in Division I behind league heavyweights Meadowink and Murrysville. Gateway Heights followed in fourth in the six-team standings.

Bel-Aire was crowed champion of the six teams in Division II with a perfect 5-0 record, while Park finished second in the standings.

The Division I and II championship meets will be Saturday at Forest Hills (Division I) and White Oak (Division II).

Battle of the Borders, an all-star meet pitting swimmers from Meadowink and Murrysville against those from the five Monroeville-based clubs was to be contested Tuesday at Gateway Heights, past the deadline for this week’s edition.

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