Mercyhurst Preparatory School Athletic Overview

By William Bengel

In researching this article, this first thing I discovered was that records for the pre-70s era are very sketchy. The Great Depression and World War II impacted on the information available in yearbooks and student newspapers. There just wasn’t enough money and materials to devote space to athletic accomplishments. Athletic programs had not yet reached the status afforded them in today’s society and therefore less attention was paid to the activities portion of the overall educational program. The school’s records on the ’50s and ’60s are also somewhat limited.

The second discovery coming from this research was that the athletic program at Mercyhurst Prep has come a long way since the days of the “Sems.”

Athletics Pre-1970

According to the yearbook, the 1929 basketball season was described as “the keenest in school history.” The team, coached by Mr. Frank Schwab, finished the season with a 7-4 record. The season highlight was a 35-3 victory over St. Edwards.

At the end of the ’30s, the Seminary’s athletic offerings included: tennis, swimming, volleyball, field hockey and basketball. Many of the games involved spirited competitions between classes and just a few competitions against teams from other schools. Each year the big field hockey game was against The Park School of Buffalo. The 1938 basketball game against St. Benedict’s Academy was canceled because the Seminary faculty felt the rivalry caused a “physical output that interfered with lessons.” The “extra-mural” season featured two victories over Cranesville.

During the ’40s, field hockey was a very popular sport. The 1945-46 basketball season must have been a tough one. The memory book sends out a “rah rah’ to Miss Weary who led the Sems through “many a trying game.. The 1947-48 basketball team finished with a 5-3-2 record. (That’s right? – Two ties!) The big game of the year was the contest with St Benedict’s, which ended in a tie. (So much for the next day’s lessons!)

Mr. Ted Fuhrman coached the Sems to an 8-3 record during the 1963 basketball season. The offense was paced by Janet Reiser, Judy Rutkowski and Corrine Vickey. Defensive strategy revolved around Betty Hulick, Judy Williams and Kathy Meyers. (How many remember the three offensive, three defensive players format for girls’ basketball?. The 1966 team, coached by Mr. Clemens Lynch, claimed an exciting 27-25 win over St. Benedict’s. In ’68, Sue Finnegan led Mercyhurst to a city championship.

Certainly there were other athletic events of significance between 1926 and 1970, but the school’s records are very incomplete. If you can supply any additional information, I hope you will let us know.

The 1970s – Change is in the Air

The decade of the ’70’s saw greater emphasis placed on school’s co-curricular activities as educators saw the importance of supplementing classroom learning with meaningful after school programs. With the admission of male students in 1974, the activities program at Mercyhurst Prep began to expand in order to keep pace with increased interest on the part of both male and female students. The school colors officially became Kelly green and white and the athletic nickname “Lakers” was adopted.

In 1974, the girls’ tennis team, led by captain Anne Kelly, posts an impressive 13-1 record and claims a Metro championship. The squad was coached by Mrs. W. Kelly. The boys’ tennis team follows suit in 1976 when Mr. Chuck Stachera coached the team to a perfect 14-0 season and a Metro championship. Dennis Borczon, Mark Baginski and Ravinder Sabherwal go undefeated in match play. Mark Baginski and Ravinder Sabherwal met for the District 10 championship in 1978 while Matt Gregory and Joe LoCastro did the same in 1980. Mary Dailey claimed a District 10 championship for the girls’ program in 1978 and Wendy Sturm became Mercyhurst’s first state champion when she won the tennis championship that same year.

Bridget Whalen was a member of the 1975 volleyball team that claims the Upper Allegheny Valley League championship. Mercyhurst’s Gil Thorpe, Chuck Stachera coached the squad to a very successful season.

The first boys’ basketball team took the floor during the 1974-75 season. The team was coached by Mr. Joe Cook and competed in a conference comprised of private schools from Buffalo and Canada. At the conclusion of the first season of competition, the team posted a 9-4 record. The very next year the team is awarded a spot in the PIAA District 10 tournament.

In 1977, Ed Zenewicz took over the reigns of the boys’ program. Coach Zenewicz would lead the Lakers to several UAVL championships before Mercyhurst is admitted to the Metro League. In that same season, Betty Burke coached the girls’ squad to an Upper Allegheny Valley League championship.

Baseball became a varsity sport in the September of 1975. Nick Young and Joe Boesch provided the offensive punch for Mercyhurst’s first team.

As the decade ended, swimmer Mary Kaliszak earned a spot in the District 10 finals and qualified for the PIAA state meet.

The 80s – New Programs, New Heights

During the decade of the 80s, several new sports were added to the athletic offerings and the Mercyhurst Prep athletic teams reached levels never before experienced.

MPS principal, Sister Maura Smith saw the need for a program to provide an opportunity for participation by students who did not choose to play the “traditional” sports. Inspired by the acceptance and popularity of the program at Mercyhurst College, Sr. Maura established a rowing program at MPS. Mr. Jack Gartner was chosen to guide the newly formed sport and to procure the necessary shells and equipment. Needless to say, the sport caught on with students and parents alike. A boathouse was erected at the foot of Sommerheim Drive and the first MPS Regatta was held in 1981. In this very first home regatta, the Lakers emerged as champions. The men’s varsity-8 took first place in both the 1981 and 1982 regattas. The women’s varsity-8 claimed first place medals in 1981, 1982 and 1983. Paul Mokha took his abilities as a coxswain to Temple University and later became a rowing coach in Florida. In 1985, the Mercyhurst rowers claimed the Misery Bay Rowing Club Challenge Cup and Dave Bennett, Katie Connolly and Michelle Simmons were invited to attend Junior National Camp. This program would remain strong and continue to grow into the 90’s and up to present day.

Cross country became a varsity sport at MPS in 1982. By the mid-80’s, the girls’ program had become extremely competitive, due in part to the great individual performances turned in by Lisa Filutze. Lisa reigned as Section One champ in 1983, ’84 and ’85, setting the records at both Frontier Park (18:44) and Brown’s Farm (18:57). During the 1984 dual meet season, Lisa took seven firsts, losing only one race by one-half of a second. From 1983-85, Lisa qualified for the PIAA state tournament each year. She finished in the top twenty each year, her best finish being fourth in 1985. In 1986 Lisa’s mom, Barb took over the program and guided the girls to an undefeated Metro season. This team was paced by Section One champ Dana Butts, Rosanne Siggia, and Jen Horan. Both Jen and Dana qualified for states, finishing fifty-fourth and eighty-ninth respectively.

Another great individual performance in the 80s came from tennis star Kelly Erven. During her four years at MPS, Kelly won four District 10 titles (1983, 84, 85 and 86) and two PIAA state championships (1985 and 86.. Kelly was named to the National High School Athletic Coaches All-American team. If that was not enough, Kelly and tennis partner Brad Prince won the District 10 mixed doubles championship in 1986 and Kelly picked up another state championship medal as a member of the 1986 girls’ basketball championship team. Kelly has returned to Mercyhurst Prep to serve as our girls’ tennis coach.

Track and field was another sport new to Mercyhurst in the 80s and by 1989, MPS had an individual champion in the sprints. Allen Thomes won District 10 titles in the I00M, 200M and 400M in ’89. Having earned a trip to the PIAA state meet, Allen brought home the gold in both the 200M and 400M.

Girls’ basketball was not new to Mercyhurst, but the heights this team reached were new for any girls’ basketball team in Erie city or county. The Lady Lakers, who had won District 10 AA titles in 1984 and 85, completed a triple crown sweep in 1986, winning the Metro League, District 10 AAA and State AAA Championships. The team capped a 30-1 season with an exciting come-from-behind victory over Valley View in the state championship game. Fans who made the trip to Hershey certainly got their money’s worth as the Lakers trailed Valley View 20-26 at the half. Kelly Erven was assigned to guard Sue Serafini, who had already scored 20 points, in the second half. Kelly’s defense, along with the scoring and rebounding of Sue Heidt and Lisa Maxson, helped turn the tide for the Lakers. Point guard Renee Dahlkemper kept the ball in the hands of our scorers and Mary Haughney bounced off the bench to knock down four key long range baskets. Lisa Kaczenski contributed several key rebounds during the first half and Kelly Erven held Serafini to just four points in the second half. Sue Heidt hit three clutch free throws as time ran down and the Lady Lakers cut down the nets and accepted the championship trophy. Both Sue Heidt and Lisa Maxson scored over 1,000 points during their high school careers and both went on to be named All-Americans in college.

Several outstanding performances by the boys’ teams paved the way for formal admission to the Metro League in 1984. According to Sr. Maura Smith, “Becoming a co-educational school and being admitted to the Metro League served to place athletics in an even more important role. Both the boys’ and girls’ programs were strengthened by these moves. Coaches took our programs seriously and trained our athletes with good results.”

The boys’ basketball team had advanced to the state tournament in 1981 by defeating Commodore Perry and Maplewood in the District 10 tournament. The Lakers moved into the second round before falling to AC Valley. Howie Fox closed out his high school career with a total of 168 assists. To demonstrate that the Lakers were ready for Metro League competition, Ed Zenewicz’ squad posted a foot-stomping 63-60 overtime win over Strong Vincent during the 1982 season. Ivan McBride ended the season with 383 points while Pete Alex contributed 343. John Sargent pulled down 203 rebounds.

The school’s first District 10 team championship was won by the 1984 baseball team, coached by Mr. David Andrews. The Lakers were paced by the all around play of pitcher Ivan McBride who helped the team finish the season with a lofty 22-4 record. Other significant contributions came from Bo Veneziano, Dave Rezepecki, A. J. Lilly, Brian Donikowski, Kurt Wagner and the rest of the team.

Girls’ soccer made its debut in 1981 and this program proved to be a model of consistency throughout the 80s and the 90s. In 1982, the girls won their first Northwestern Pennsylvania Girls’ Soccer League championship. Erich Wollman coached the squad while Debbie Baldauf, Lynn Bielanin and Debbie DeWitt fulfilled the duties of co-captains. Offensive support came from Renee Dahlkemper, and Dina Lawson. Goalie Shelly King finished the season with a 1.375 goals against average. Coach Marikae Cerami continued the winning ways in 1983 and 84 by coaching the Lady Lakers to two more NWPAGSL championships. Over the course of the 1983 season, the team scored 88 goals while giving up only 10. The first Metro championship came in 1984 when the team finished with a 14-1 record. The Lakers claimed the crown by virtue of a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Villa. In 1986, coach Jamie Borowicz’s squad grabbed another Metro title as Veronica Sansom scored 21 goals over a 16 game stretch. “V” would go on to an outstanding soccer career at Mercyhurst College. Coach Borowicz’s 1988 team would go 16-2 and claim both the Metro and District 10 championships. Also during the 80’s, MPS standout Cindy Baldauf was named to the Western PA Select Soccer Team.

The boys’ soccer team under Coach Frank Amicucci brought home District 10 championships in both 1987 and 1988. Over his fifteen years of coaching at MPS, coach Amicucci’s teams won six District 10 titles. The 1986 team was the first to compete in the Metro League. Doug Bakka paced the Laker attack scoring 16 goals in 22 games. The 1987 squad shared the District 10 title with Fairview. The Lakers advanced to the western quarterfinals before bowing to AA power Peters Township. Captains Mark Baer and Brian Kridler sparked the Laker’s performance. Scott DeWitt and John Baldauf led the 1988 team to an outright District 10 title by virtue of a 1-0 victory over Fairview in the finals. Chris Trejchel and Brian Hurley were also players of note during the Lakers successful run of the ’80s.

Mercyhurst Prep swimmers and wrestlers also turned in standout performances during the 80s. In 1986, both Tina and Patty Kaliszak qualified for Nationals. Senior Pat Carroll won the District 10 championship for the 50 yard freestyle ‘in 1987. Pat clocked a time of 22:31 at the Edinboro pool. The next year, Kaisa Haikanen won two District titles and qualified for states in the 50 yard freestyle and the 100 yard butterfly.

The year 1985 was a stellar year for the now defunct MPS wrestling program. During that season, the Laker program produced three Section I champions: Brian Roach at 105 pounds, Kevin Pastewka at 132 pounds and John Bielanin at 138. Kevin Pastewka went on to win the District 10 AA championship and place fifth at the state tournament.

That same year, the bowling team won its third straight Metro title and the MPS volleyball team continued along its path of steady growth by posting its best season to date. Sister Joachim, Victoria Hoff, Carol Costello, Lynn Kellogg and Marlene Stroup all had a hand, as coaches, in the bowlers’ success. PBA bowler Ron Palombi honed his skills in the MPS intramural bowling program in the mid-’80’s. Coaches Chuck Stachera and Jennifer Maser relied heavily on the talents of Lisa Stroup, Sheryl Kroto, Leanne Madurski and Michelle Mallory to keep the volleyball program headed in the right direction.

The 1988 District 10 AAA softball title belonged to the Lady Lakers as Coaches Bridget Whalen and Mary Ann King led the Lakers to 14 straight wins. The arm of Kelso Brophy and the speed of Veronica Sansom were the keys in the Lakers 2-1 win over Villa to claim the crown. In that same year, the girls tennis doubles team of Denise Robison and Ashlie Franklin grabbed the District 10 crown and advanced to the state quarter finals.

As the decade came to a close, MPS golfer John Wiler won the 1989 District 10 title and placed fifth in the state while Jen Eberlein also qualified for the state tournament and finished fourteenth. And as an indication of good things yet to come, Khyl Horton led the Metro League in scoring with an 18.8 points per game average. Khyl will be heard from again as the Laker teams moved into the ’90s.

The 90s and Beyond: New Facilities, Two New Programs, and Kisses from Hershey

The 90s saw the opening of the new athletic wing and the dedication of the baseball field. Mercyhurst athletes were given the opportunity to participate in newly formed football and ice hockey programs. This decade was highlighted by the state championships in boys’ and girls’ basketball.

The addition of the new athletic wing gave MPS a regulation size gym for volleyball and basketball. The gym featured a hardwood floor with two side courts, separated by a retractable curtain, allowing for greater flexibility in the scheduling of physical education classes and athletic practices. A new weight room provided an area where athletes could condition and allowed weight lifting classes to have access to state of the art equipment. Four locker rooms, a classroom and office space were also part of the new wing.

The baseball field was an ongoing project coordinated by Mr. Mike McCormick. The field was constructed on land given by the Sisters of Mercy, just north of the athletic complex. Our baseball team finally had a home field for varsity and junior varsity games right outside our backdoor. The field is also used as a practice area for the football and track teams. Physical education classes are able to schedule outdoor activities on the field as the Erie weather permits. The first varsity game was played on March 31, 1999. On the mound for the Lakers was Greg (Tex) Ross and the first hit was delivered by Chris Allen as the Lakers beat Saegertown.

Football came to MPS in the fall of 1990 when a varsity reserve team was organized under the leadership of legendary coach Ron Costello. The team walked to their practice field on Gore Road each day and played home games at Biletnikoff Field and Mercyhurst College. This first edition team went 8-2 and brought home a Metro Reserve League championship. The first varsity win over a Metro opponent would come the very next season when the Lakers defeated East. By 1993, Terry Costello had taken over the program and continued to build on the foundation already established by Ron Costello. The team claimed its first Metro League AA/AAA championship and earned a berth in the District 10 tournament, losing to Northwestern in the first round. Standout performers on this team were Brian Ostrum, Mark Gorney, Russ Smith, Curtis Jones, Harry Carpenter and place kicker Bill Gehrlein. Eric Hicks received a full scholarship to the University of Maryland where he was a defensive co-captain for two years. Eric is currently playing for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.

The football program would go on to win three straight Metro AA/AAA titles in 1998, 99 and 2000 under coach Jeff Nichols. Major contributions came from Matt Dubowski, Donnie Staaf and Cory Rush in ’98. The ’99 team featured the line play of Ishmael Trainor, the kicking of Justin Harris, the hard running of Brian Morgan and the sure hands of receiver Joe McFadden. The 2000 edition earned a spot in the District 10 tournament to go along with their league title. Dywon Rowan broke Craig Woodard’s school scoring record while brother Levonne earned second team All-State recognition as a defensive back. Dan Bukowski and Zack Brandt were also recognized for their contributions at the end of the season. The team lost only two players to graduation, so a host of talented players will be returning to a team that coach Nichols feels should contend for the District 10 finals. Seems this team has some unfinished business

Ice hockey joined the list of MPS sports offerings in 1994. Greg Williams was tabbed to be the first coach of the team and this first team featured the talents of Bob Loomis, Jason Makin and Mackenzie Williams. The team had their most competitive season in 1996-97. In 1999 the program switched league affiliation and joined the PIHL. Coach Pierre Legace is set to lead the team into the 2001-02 season.

The MPS basketball teams received two Hershey “kisses” ‘in March of 1991. The boys’ team, having adopted the slogan “Whatever it takes!” made it to the state finals as the number three team from District 10. Coach Greg Majchrzak’s team brought a 26-5 record into the championship game against a 30-0 Wilkes Barre GAR team that featured the play of Bob Sura. (Sura went on to star at Florida State and to an NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers.) Sura and MPS star Khyl Horton took turns dominating the game as the Lakers trailed GAR 43-48 after three quarters. Craig Woodard and Brian Buerger hit key baskets at crunch time enabling the Lakers to pull ahead by a 54-53 score. Brian Dahlkemper’s driving basket with just 36 seconds to play clinched the championship for Mercyhurst. Final score: MPS 58, GAR 55. Khyl Horton scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the game while Brian Buerger and Craig Woodard chipped in with 12 and 13 points respectively. Brian Wedzik led the offense and controlled the tempo for Coach Majchrzak and solid defensive contributions came from Ron Swanson and Mike Modzelewski. Horton would go on to a solid collegiate career at George Mason and Gannon.

The girls’ team took the floor just as soon as the celebration ended. The girls were making their second appearance at Hershey in six years and were ready to square off against Allentown Central Catholic and Michelle Marciniak. Marciniak scored over three thousand points in her career and was Parade Magazine National Co-Player of the Year. The Lady Lakers had already claimed the Metro League and District 10 titles on their way to a 29-2 season. When Central Catholic grabbed the lead in the second quarter and switched to a zone defense, guards Jena DiBello, Danielle and Denise Baginski promptly knocked down outside shots to force CC back into a player-to-player defense. This enabled the Lakers to take advantage of their strong inside game. The inside duo of Teresa Szumigala and Angie Potthoff would combine for 50 points and 27 rebounds as the team would shoot 53% from the field. Stephanie Russo came off the bench to provide backup support for the potent inside game. The guard trio of Denise and Danielle Baginski and Jena DiBello combined for 17 points and Denise Baginski held Marciniak to 23 points. The girls’ victory (67-55) meant that the Lakers had “swept” Hershey and that the bus ride home and the victory parade in Erie would indeed be sweet. The team motto “Yes we can” quickly changed to “Yes we did.” Teresa Szumigala finished her high school career having scored 1,981 points. Teresa would go on to play at Mercyhurst College where she would earn All-American status. Angie continued her playing career at Penn State where she was named All Big Ten and All-American. She played professionally for the Columbus Quest and the Minnesota Lynx. Both Teresa and Angie have been voted into the Erie Metropolitan Sports Hall of Fame. Reflecting on the two state championships, Sr. Maura Smith stated, “This reinforces the notion that Mercyhurst students can excel in athletics as well as academics.”

The girls’ program would go on to win additional District 10 titles in 1992 and ’94. Coach Randy Bowers took over the program in 1997 and in that same year Amy Galla, who was headed for Mercyhurst College, won the Metro League scoring title with a 16.1 ppg average. In 2001, senior Amber Krumpe was accorded the honor of Metro League MVP.

The boys’ team would enjoy yet another solid season in 1998 as the Lakers received strong performances from Chris Kozik, Bryan Sammons and Ray Schlaufman. The Lakers earned a trip to the state tournament but fell in the first round to a powerful Aliquippa team. One year later, Bob Amendola’s troops shocked all of Pennsylvania by knocking off the state’s number 1 team in the AA division in the District 10 championship game. George junior Republic came into the game as a heavy favorite, but the Lakers, were able to pull off one of the greatest upsets in state basketball history. Bryan Sammons ran the ball control offense to perfection and the team benefited from solid performances from all of the starters. The senior leadership of Greg Merski and Sean Baer helped the Lakers maintain their composure against the bigger and quicker Tigers. Matt Burke converted a driving lay up late in the game as the four comers offense provided an easy basket that gave MPS control of the game. Sean Baer made a clutch steal as the clock wound down to clinch the upset victory and the District 10 title for Mercyhurst. The next days headlines read: “By George, the Lakers Beat the Tigers!”

The boys’ and girls’ soccer programs continued their pursuit of excellence throughout the ’90’s. Frank Amicucci’s program claimed District 10 titles in 1990, ’94, ’95 and ’98. The girls, under Jamie Borowicz, claimed District titles in 1990 and ’96. Both teams collected there share of Metro titles as well. This particular time period saw many talented players put on the green and white jerseys to represent their school and bring honor and glory to themselves and their programs. Over the course of the decade, Jason Kast, Dave DiSanza, Brian Hurley, Chris Trejchel, Dom DeLuca, Daryle Wingerter, Ara Pardini, David Novak-Sturm, Mark Malloy, Phil Miller, Andy Dulin, Sean Baer, Brian Donovan and Joe Stazer were among the many who contributed to the team’s success. The girls’ program benefited from the athletic abilities of Jena DiBello, Melissa Obmann, Lisa DeLuca, Erin Filutze, Lori Krzeszewski, Alyssa Murosky, Amanda Johnson, Megan Snyder, Mackenzie Williams, Nicki Krahe, Aja Pardini, Katie Brabender and many others. Needless to say these lists could go on and on. Special recognition also goes out to keepers Kevin Cornish and Julie DiGello for the job they did between the pipes during their tenures. Julie Byrne completed her high school soccer career as the leading scorer in MPS history, having scored 87 goals and Erica Mozdy’s talents earned her First Team All-State recognition.

The MPS rowers certainly had their share of glory in the ’90s under head coach Brad Fairfield. The Lakers dominated the Three Rivers Regatta, winning six team championships from 1991-98. In ’92, the team placed two boats in the finals of the Stotesbury Cup in Philadelphia. Over the years MPS has been a “bad host”, winning our own regatta in 1994, ’95, ’96, ’97 and ’98. In 1995 the Lakers, qualified no fewer than five boats for the US Nationals, with the men’s novice 8+ taking sixth place. At Canadian Nationals in 1996, Mercyhurst placed four boats in the finals, bringing home two bronze medals. The men’s heavyweight boat qualified for the finals at Canadian nationals for the first time in 1997. The guys placed fourth overall. During the course of the decade, the MPS rowing program benefited from outstanding performances by H.J. Bender, Matt Anderson, Liv Laiann, Jason Makin, Elicia Henry and Sherri Jaworski. Liv Laiann would later be selected to the Norwegian National Rowing Team. In 1997, Julie Lillis and Caitlin Welsh were named to the United States Rowing Association Honor Roll. Over the course of the decade, more than sixty MPS rowers went on to receive some form of financial aid to row in college. Mr. Dave Geiger is now in place to lead the program into the next decade.

The softball and baseball teams have each claimed their first Metro League championships in the past two years. Coach Brian Kirsch’s team took full advantage of the pitching talents of Nikki Pacinelli, the smooth fielding of Amanda Ross and hitting power of Melissa Rizzo and Michelle Munksgard to claim the title in 2001. Nikki Pacinelli was named league MVP on the basis of her 12-2 pitching record and her earned run average of 1.35. Nikki proved she can do it all on the field by batting a lofty .400. The Lady Lakers made it to the District 10 finals before losing to a very good Meadville team. Since Nikki is only a junior, league and district opponents will have to face her in yet another season!

In 1999 the baseball team, coached by Doug Owens, claimed their first Metro League title. League MVP Greg Ross teamed with catcher Donnie Staaf to keep opposing batters guessing while Chris Allen provided plenty of power at the plate. Allen’s consistent performances over his career earned him three first team All-Metro selections.

The Laker baseball squad had a strong AA tradition to build on. Under coach Ted DeSanti, the Lakers had claimed a District 10 title in 1994. Pitcher Hany Carpenter spun a nifty four hitter as the ‘Hurst beat Lakeview 3-2. Chris Sperdutto and Mike Dombkowski turned in stellar performances during the close contest. Dombkowski hit a two out, two run homer onto the roof of Roosevelt to put the team in a position to win. The Lakers advanced and won their first round game in the state tournament by a 5-0 score over Cannevin. The team claimed another District 10 title in 1996, this time under coach Doug Owens. Strong all-around performances came from Tony Cuzzola, Brian Meyers, Mike Driehorst, Mike Cirino and Dave Leisering as the Lakers beat Cranberry 5-1 at Jerry Uht Park.

The MPS bowlers of coach Ed Rohrbach claimed three league titles in the ’90’s as consistently high averages were attained by Natalie Stano, Shelby Wiley, Nikki Michali, Bethany Johnson and Johanna Hanes.

The girls’ tennis team had a remarkable run of three straight Metro championships beginning in 1995. Over a three year period, the girls would post a 35-1-1 record for coach Sally Reed. The team’s lone loss came at the start of the ’97 season to Warren by a 3-4 score. District 10 doubles championships were claimed by Leah Batkiewicz and Jane Reed in ’94, by Leah Batkiewicz and Natalie Brown in ’96, by Laura Schindelholz and Lindsay Zimin in ’99 and by Laura Schindelholz and Stacey Batkiewicz in ’00. Based on their strong performances in the state tournament, Natalie Brown and Leah Batkiewicz were selected to the Second Team All-State squad while Jane Reed and Lindsay Zimm were accorded Honorable Mention. In 1999, Lindsay Zimm and Laura Schindelholz also claimed the PIAA AAA state championship in doubles play. The Lady Lakers, under Kelly Erven-Maslar won the District 10 team title in 2000.

The boys’ tennis team would send Pat McCreary and Antonio Camara to the state tournament in 1998. Pat would return to the state tournament the very next year.

The MPS volleyball team posted very respectable records in ’95 and ’96, going 10-5 and 11-4 over the two year stretch.

MPS cross country runner Tullia Bruno had her chance to shine in ’98 when she claimed the Section I championship.

During the ’99-00 season, the girls’ swim team would claim win number one hundred for the program as Cindy Haibach and Beth Warner helped Tom Doyle’s Lakers race to a 14-4 season.

Members of Mercyhurst Prep’s track teams also distinguished themselves over the course of the ’90’s. In 1990, Melissa Bules won the District 10 championship in the 400m run. Craig Woodard claimed the Metro title in the high jump (6’4″) and the long jump (21’9″) in ’92. In that same year, Metro championships were also won by Tony Tate in the 100m (11.15) and by the 400m relay team of Tate, Woodard, Chris James, Darren Jones and Jeff Sansom. Andy Ruppersberg claimed another Metro championship in ’94 by winning the 1600m run. One year later, DJ Fuhrman ran a 41.14 to claim the Metro title in the 300m hurdles. Performances that would have to be described as remarkable were turned in by Erin Filutze and Amanda Johnson. Erin claimed the Metro gold in the ’93 1600m (5:27) the ’94 800m (2:27) and the 1600m (5:21). Erin capped her career by claiming a championship in the 3200m (11:24) at the District 10 meet. Amanda Johnson was also consistently strong in her events. Amanda was Metro champ in the 1600m run in ’95 (5:23) ’96 (5:27) and ’97 (5:31. In ’96 she also took a first in the 3200m with a time of 12:15. In that same year, Amanda claimed District 10 championships in both the 1600 and 3200m runs by turning in times of 5:27 and 11:52 on the McDowell track. The ’01 track season produced three more Metro champs for MPS. Sean McCullough and Lindsay Havko each took first place honors in the 1600m run while Kristy Allegier won the 300m hurdles. Lindsay made a trip to state meet as a freshman. Mercyhurst sprinter Levonne “Coop” Rowan represented our school well in the state AA meet by bringing home the gold in both the 100m (10.98) and 200m (22.42) dash. Coop hopes to return to states to defend his titles during his senior year.

Over the years, Mercyhurst teams have enjoyed and benefited from the enthusiasm of the various cheerleading squads and the Spirit Squad. We have had cheerleading squads on both the junior varsity and varsity levels for the sports of football and basketball. While the wrestling program was active, there was yet another eager group of cheerleaders present to lend their support. During the 80s, the school also sponsored some very talented twirlers. While cheerleading is not yet a sanctioned competitive sport, MPS coaches and athletes alike would indicate that our squads would undoubtedly fare well in any form of competition. The Spirit Squad was very active in the ’80s under the guidance of Mr. Jon Sedelmyer. The tradition has been kept alive in the ’90’s thanks to the leadership of faculty moderator Mr. Ed Curtin and a host of spirited seniors. No matter what the outcome of a given athletic event, “we’ve got the worm! The contributions made by these squads throughout the years cannot be truly measured but they are certainly appreciated by coaches, athletes and fans!

Also working hard to ensure the continued success of our athletic programs are the various sports specific booster groups. These organizations have done so much over the years to help strengthen our programs and to keep them strong. The involvement and support of these groups has been very much appreciated by the administration, coaches and athletes of MPS. It would be safe to say that we would not be where we are today without the strong commitment of these groups!

As the ’90s came to a close and the new millennium began, the Erie Times-News published a list of the “Best of the Century” and several MPS athletes were among those honored to be on the list. Topping the list of “Erie’s Top Female Athletes of the Century” was Mercyhurst’s own Angie Potthoff. Joining Angie on the list were May Ann Roberts Fessler, Teresa Szumigala, Kelly Erven-Maslar and Barb Filutze. Making the list of the “Century’s Best” were PBA Bowler Ron Palombi, Sue Heidt, Lisa Maxson, Kelso Brophy, Veronica Sansom, Khyl Horton and Eric Hicks. Former girls’ basketball coach Bill Bengel was listed as one of the “Top Coaches of Female Teams.”

All things considered, we have a lot to be proud of as a school. We have many outstanding team and individual athletic accomplishments to go along with our school’s strong academic tradition. Being a well-rounded individual is one of the trademarks of a Mercyhurst Prep education and this approach still provides plenty of opportunity for athletic accomplishments to come shining through. To all of the former Sems and Lakers, “thank you” for all you have done for Mercyhurst Prep over these past seventy-five years. We hope to continue to build on the traditions you have established for us and to consistently reach for even loftier standards of consistency and achievement while upholding the notion of the well-rounded Mercyhurst Prep graduate. Judging from the accomplishments of these past few years, we are well on our way!


This school year was truly a banner year for MPS athletics. By the end of the school year there were five District 10 championship banners hanging in the gym and three teams had advanced to the western finals in their respective state tournaments.

The football team kicked off the year by going a perfect 9-0 during the regular season before losing a hard fought contest to Sharon (7-14) in the first round of the District 10 tournament. The team’s success brought much attention from college coaches and two Lakers, Jovon Johnson (Iowa) and Levonne Rowan (Wisconsin) earned division one scholarships. Jason Sibley (Gannon) and Justin Gannoe (Mercyhurst) received division two packages for football. Andy Willis continued his football at Westminster College.

This talented Laker squad also made a great showing on the All-Metro teams. The first team offense included Jovon Johnson, Dywon Rowan, Jason Sibley, Zach Brandt and Mike Potter. Jovon Johnson became the first MPS player to be selected to and play in the Big 33 game.. Levonne Rowan, Jason Sibley and Jovon Johnson were named to the first team defense. Second team honorees were John North, Justin Gannoe and Craig Glover on offense and Mike Potter, Zach Brandt, Andy Willis and Dywon Rowan on defense.

The 2001-02 season was the first undefeated regular season as well as the best overall record in MPS football history! This was truly a season to remember!

The girls’ tennis team completed an undefeated regular season and claimed another Metro and District championship. The Lady Lakers finished with a 12-0 overall record, their only loss coming at the hands of Lower Merion in the state tournament. Stacey Batkiewicz was the District 10 singles champ and qualified for the state tournament and advanced to the quarter finals. District 10 doubles finalists were Erin Delaney and Jenny Wilson while Stacey Batkiewicz, Monica Capozziello and Allison Haener were selected to the first team All-Metro.

Strong showings by MPS teams during the winter made the season pass quickly and helped people forget about the long Erie winter. The boys’ basketball team racked up a 26-5 overall record while finishing second in the Metro League and first in the AA District. The Lakers brought home a first place trophy from the North Broward Holiday Tournament in Palm Beach, Florida and were only one win away from Hershey before losing in the Western Finals. Doug Merski surpassed the 1,000 point mark for his career and was a unanimous selection to first team All-Metro. Doug will continue his basketball career at Penn State Behrend.

The girls’ basketball team also excelled during their season. The Lady Lakers were co-champs of the Metro League and won the District 10 AAA championship. The youthful squad compiled a 25-7 record and made an appearance in the Western Finals. Chelsea Gordon was named D-10 Freshman Player of the Year by the Western PA Girls’ Basketball Association. During the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, the girls will move up to AAAA.

MPS diver Pat Bukowski finished second in the District 10 meet with a score of 392.35. His point total was the highest among Metro divers and earned Pat the Metro Diver of the Year award. Pat went on to place seventh in the state meet held at Penn State. S Only a sophomore, Pat has two seasons of high school diving to look forward to.

The Mercyhurst bowlers, paced by Lauren Eighmy’s 180.6 high average, went 11-0 and won the Metro League championship. The Lady Lakers went on to states and claimed second place in the “B” division. Michelle Munksgard bowled the tournament high series with a score of 618. Michelle Munksgard, Lauren Eighmy and Jen Munksgard were all selected for All Metro recognition.

The spring season brought still more outstanding performances by Laker teams. The baseball team rolled up a 16-8 record on their way to a second place finish in Metro. In the District 10 finals, the pitching of Bob Ohmer and the defensive play of Matt Calabrese and Chris Campbell made the only run of the game (scored by Zach Brandt) enough as the Lakers defeated Franklin to claim the championship. The guys advanced all the way to the Western Finals before being eliminated by Lewistown, the eventual state champions. Mike Potter wore the Metro League batting crown and Mark Tupek was awarded a gold glove for his play at second base. Matt Driehorst joined Potter and Tupek as first team All Metro selections. Bob Ohmer, Mark Fogel and Chris Campbell were named to the All Metro second team.

The softball team grabbed second place in the Metro League and compiled a 12-5 overall record. The Lady Lakers qualified for districts but were eliminated by Meadville in a classic pitchers’ duel, 3-2 in nine innings. Senior captains for this tear’s squad were Nikki Pacinelli and Nicole Palermo.

Track season brought additional honors to MPS student-athletes. The boys’ team surprised more than a few people in District 10 by racking up 81 points on their way to their first D-10 AA track championship. Strong individual performances during the season contributed to the teams’ overall success. Jason Sibley was the Metro shot and discus champ. Jason was also the district discus champion. Jovon Johnson excelled in the triple and long jumps, claiming first place in both events during the Metro meet. Levonne Rowan also claimed Metro championships in two events—the 100m and 200m dashes. “Coop” would go on to win his second gold medal in the 200m dash at the state meet. He was runner up in the 100m dash, bringing home a silver medal. Sean McCullough ran to district gold in the 1600m event and would go on to finish seventh in the same event at states. Lindsey Havko received recognition for the girls’ team as she was a dual district champion in the 800m and 1600m runs. Lindsay made a strong showing at states by finishing third in the 1600m event.

This school year’s achievements represent the best overall performances by MPS teams and student-athletes in school history. There was obviously much to cheer about and be proud of.


The 2002 season was one of rebuilding for the MPS football team. The leadership of seniors Kyle Bentley, Zach Brandt and Travis Matson helped hold the team together through the tough ten game schedule. Travis Matson was selected to play in the Save-an-Eye City-County game. The Lakers can look forward to the return of many underclassmen for the 2003 season.

The girls’ soccer team went undefeated in Metro League play on the way to posting a 13-3-4 season record. The girls advanced to the District 10 finals, where they lost to a very good General McLane team, 0-2. Junior Tami Krzeszewski earned first team All-Metro honors and was named to the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches’ Association All-State Team. Tami’s offensive stats were indeed impressive; she scored 12 goals and had 8 assists for the season.

It was all MPS when the District 10 tennis tournament concluded. The Lady Lakers of coach Kelly Erven-Maslar (MPS class of ’87) cruised through the league and district play undefeated. Marcie Cappiezzello and Stacey Batkiewicz advanced through their respective brackets to square off in the district finals. Stacey prevailed, thus claiming her second straight district title and earning a trip to the state tournament in Hershey, where she advanced to the quarterfinals. The team itself won their third straight district championship by defeating Warren in the finals. They were eliminated from the state tournament by Freedom, the eventual state champion. The District 10 doubles title was won by Alison Haener and Monica Cappozziello by virtue of a hard fought match against Cristina Schreckengost and Erin Delaney. Quite an impressive showing and a great representation for MPS!

The Mercyhurst volleyball team completed a successful season with a 13-8 record. The girls finished second in the Metro League and came in third in the District 10 tournament. Tracie Kendziora, Jenna Fitch and Melisa Rizzo were honored by being selected to the second team All-Metro.

Our boys’ golf team wrapped up a successful season on the links by finishing with a 9-4 record, good enough for a second place tie in the Metro League. During the course of the season, MPS defeated McDowell for the first time in school history.. Patrick Wiley was a second team All-Metro selection and he would choose to continue to cultivate his appreciation for the game of golf by enrolling in the Methodist University Professional Golf Management Program.

One of the highlights of the girls’ golf season would have to be their two consecutive victories over McDowell. Senior Allie Wisinski finished second in the Metro match while junior Rachel White took third. The Lady Lakers finished the season with eleven wins.

Brett Heher paced the boys’ cross country team by winning two Metro races. The fleet feet of Katie Froehlich and Cyndi Lee carried the dynamic duo to top twenty-five finishes in the district meet.. The team capped their season by running in the Disney 5K invitational.

After completing a grueling Metro League schedule, the boys’ basketball team found themselves facing Girard in a crucial first-round game of the District 10 tournament. Only the winner of this game would advance to second-round play and the Lakers needed to do just that if they were going to qualify for the state tournament for the third consecutive year. This hard-fought, see-saw battle came down to the last few seconds when Pat Wiley dropped in a short shot from the baseline to give the Lakers the lead with only seconds left to play. Girard managed a desperation shot from half court that fell short, giving the Lakers an opportunity to play Sharpsville in the second round. The Lakers would move on to face a clutch-shooting Eisenhower team in the finals, losing by just two points. MPS moved on to the state tournament for the third straight year, representing District 10 as the AA runner-up. Senior Mark Fogel was recognized for his solid guard play by being named to the second team All-Metro. Patrick Wiley finished his career with 1,078 points and was selected to the first team All-Metro.

The girls’ varsity basketball team moved through their league schedule without a loss and also captured the District 10AAAA title on their way to a sterling 26-3 season. Two of the three losses came at the hands of a strong Oakland Catholic squad that would go on to claim the AAAA state championship. With several key players returning and plenty of depth off the bench, the players and coaches are hoping to move even deeper into the playoffs next year. Chelsea Gordon and Mashea Williams were both tabbed for first team All-Metro honors while Erin Kerner was chosen for the second team. Chelsea was further honored by being named Metro League Player of the Year and by her selection to the third team class AAAA All-State Team. She was the only sophomore on the AAAA All-State Team.

MPS diver Pat Bukowski claimed the District 10 AA diving championship. Bowler Lauren Eighmy was named Times-News Bowler of the Year as the team won their second straight Metro title and qualified for the state tournament. Lauren Eighmy and Jen Munksgard were selected to the All-Metro first team while Emily Plonski was chosen for the second team and Sarah Gdaniec earned honorable mention.

The Lakers hockey team racked up eight wins during the regular season and led by seniors Wayne Zimmer and Jon Wallin made their first ever appearance in the Ohio League playoffs!

The spring sports season found the MPS softball team claiming their first District 10 title since 1988! The Lakers earned the crown by beating a tough McDowell team 4-2 at the Lincoln Avenue field in Meadville. Laura Bednar paced the offense by knocking in three runs while pitcher Jena Fitch scattered six hits and worked out of several tough situations. As always, the defense was solid behind Jena. Third baseman Lisa Oberacker came up with a big catch of a fly ball to end a Trojan rally in the third inning. The team advanced to the state quarter finals, the farthest any softball team had gone in school history.

Led by senior captains Mark Tupek and Mark Fogel, the baseball team advanced to the District semi-finals before their season came to an end. The Laker squad also received significant contributions from first baseman Zach Brandt, pitcher Ian Hodap and catcher Mike Mackowski. A definite highlight of the season was the opportunity to play a game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh against Montour.

The track team certainly grabbed their share of time in the local spotlight during the ’03 season.. Lindsay Havko was once again Metro champion in the 1600m and 800m runs, setting a record for the 800m (2:19.176) in the process. Lindsay was District champ in the 1600 (5:21.28) and earned another trip to states in her junior year. Tim Majewski grabbed the Metro gold medal in the 800m (2:00.43) event and thereby earned a chance to compete at the state meet.

Crew had a very successful season, starting with competition in four regattas where they captured several medals. Once the ice left the bay, the rowers made up for lost time and prepped themselves for top notch competitions in Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Ontario and U. S. Nationals in New Jersey. The Laker rowers proudly claimed the overall points trophy from our own MPS Regatta!

The boys’ tennis team made the trip to Hilton Head to better prepare for the tough Metro schedule. The trip must have been beneficial as the team advanced to the District 10 AA finals and Mike Amory made an appearance in the AA singles championship match.

And so at this point we close the book on 2002-03 and look forward to continued excellence and enjoyment in the athletic area during the seasons of 2003-04. May the Mark of Pride and Spirit continue to shine proudly upon the athletes and programs of MPS!


The 2003-04 athletic years would be the last hurrah for the Erie Metro League due to the realignment of District 10 that is set to go into effect in 2004-05.

Both the boys’ and girls’ golf teams ended Metro play with successful seasons. The girls’ team finished their season with an impressive 15-5 record which was good enough for a second place finish in the league. The team sent three players, Rachel White, Sherry Orinko and Angela Wisniewski, to districts. Rachel was the highest MPS finisher, claiming fifth place and earning a selection to the All-Metro first team. Angela, Sherry and Hillary Mando were named Honorable Mention. The boys’ team sported a 9-3 record and finished in a tie for second place in the Metro.

The team fared well in major tournaments at Warren, Franklin and MPS and was able to defeat McDowell for the first time in match play. Junior Chris Moore took third place in the District tournament and went on to States where he finished 48th. Chris was also named to first team All-Metro for his consistent play and scores.

The girls’ cross country team was led by freshman Lydia Wardi who finished first in four meets. The girls finished a respectable third in the Metro standings and Lydia was chosen for All-Metro honorable mention recognition. The boys’ team also claimed third place in the Metro League. The team was paced by freshman Mike Stolar who finished first in five meets. Mike and teammate Andy Nowak were named first team All-Metro. Both the boys and girls enjoyed and benefited from the opportunity to go to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Disney 5K.

The varsity football team was overall a young squad that was still able to display pride and courage in spite of a losing record. Seniors Shaun Carney, Brett Gephardt, Mike Baniszewski and Matt LeFavier helped the younger players stay motivated and focused as the team looked forward to better days ahead. Linebacker Joe Chevalier was named to the second team All-Metro defense.

The girls’ tennis team continued to play at a high level by finishing their season with an outstanding 8-1 record and yet another District 10 team title. The Lakers also picked up the singles championship when Allison Haener defeated teammate Jenny Wilson for the crown. Jenny and Ashley Zuern went on to make it an MPS sweep by defeating McDowell for the District doubles title. Allison, Jenny and Ashley were honored as first team All-Metro selections.

The girls’ volleyball team wrapped up their season as champions of the Iroquois Tournament and with an overall record of 9-3. Their regular season performance was good enough to earn the team an invitation to the District 10 tournament where they lost to McDowell in the first round. Seniors Megan Ferrie and Melanie Blais were tabbed for first team All-Metro honors while Jenna Fitch and Kate Pisano were named to the second team. Megan Ferrie was further honored by her selection as Times News Player of the Year!

The boys’ soccer team ended the regular season campaign with a 9-10-1 record, good enough for a third place finish in the league. The season highlight was a hard – fought victory over East at MPS on Senior Night. Colin Cook was chosen for the first team All-Metro while freshman Zack Miller was named to the second team.

The girls’ soccer squad battled their way through the regular season and the District 10 semis on the way to a finals match up against McDowell. The match would prove to be a classic struggle between two evenly matched teams. Unfortunately it would also prove to be a heartbreaker for the Lady Lakers and their fans as the team lost to McDowell 1-2 in overtime. The season concluded with the Lady Lakers sporting 14-7-1 record. Molly Rinn, Karla Vogt and Tami