Class of 2000
John Dale Swogger- During his seven years as head boys’ basketball coach of the Mustangs, Mercer appeared in 5 state championship games (1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, and 1967) and won back to back state championships in 1966 and 1967. Swogger was the architect of Mercer’s devastating fast break offense, which averaged nearly 100 points per game in 1966 and 1967. During his 7-year tenure as Mercer’s coach, the Mustangs compiled a remarkable 155-31 record. Prior to coming to Mercer, Swogger started as a player for two legendary basketball coaches, L. Butler Hennon at Wampum High School and Cliff Aultman at Geneva College.
Tim Thompson- He is believed to be the first athlete in Mercer High School history to individually qualify for the state championships in two sports – wrestling and track and field. As a premiere wrestler at the 167 pound weight class, Tim placed third at the state tournament. He was also a two-time Section 3 champion and a two-time Northwest Regional qualifier in wrestling. Tim also was a state qualifier in the intermediate hurdles and advanced to the state finals in the triple jump. While at Slippery Rock University he wrestled for three years on the varsity squad at the Division I level.
Chuck Jaskowak- A 2-sport star at Mercer High School, Chuck was the state champion his junior year in the javelin throw. He again placed third in the state his senior year and was nationally ranked among all high school throwers. In 1981 he was one of only to Pennsylvania high school students to ever be invited to the National Championship where he placed second. During his high school career he set 14 different meet, stadium, school, and league records in the javelin, which have not been broken. Chuck went on to compete in the javelin for the University of Florida where he placed 3rd at the junior nationals in 1982. Chuck was also a standout quarterback and punter in football at Mercer and was named to the All-Tri County team three times.
1966 State Championship Basketball Team- This was Mercer’s first of two consecutive state title teams in the mid 1960’s. This tall and talented team parlayed exceptional discipline and a devastating offense in recording the only undefeated basketball season in Mercer history (28-0). The team rampaged through opponents during the regular season, averaging nearly 100 points per game. Led by the dynamic starting 5 of All-State lefty sharpshooter Bill Snodgrass, all-around standout Posey Rhoads, 6’5 ½ shooting star Tom Filer, steady point guard Mont Mattocks, and power rebounding forward Larry Woods, coach John Dale Swogger’s Mustangs capped a storybook season with a heart stopping 55-52 overtime win over Darby Colwyn in the PIAA State Champtionship at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena. Five players on this title team went on to have solid basketball careers at the collegiate level. Other members of this team included: Larry Reichard, Dave Knowlton, Dick ―Pickle‖ Harris, Art Adair, Denny Mathieson, Les Peters, Brent Long, and managers Alex Ellis, Hugh Ringer, Jack Sampson, Harry Snyder, and Jim Hamer.
Bob “Posey” Rhoads- In what is a rich basketball tradition at Mercer High, Posey ranks as the school’s greatest boys’ basketall player and all-time leading scorer with 1,516 career points. He was a starter on 2 state championship teams in 1966 and 1967 and as a senior was virtually unstoppable, scoring more than 30 points in 14 games. During his remarkable senior season, Posey tallied 50 or more points in two games, averaged 30.2 points per game, and scored 816 points, which was a Mercer County single season scoring record that lasted until 1990. Posey, who was named first team All-State and received All-American mention his senior year, went on to have an outstanding career at Wake Forest University where he was a double figure scorer for the Demon Deacons.
Sandi Bittler- Mercer’s greatest girls’ basketball player ever was a 3-sport star in high school, excelling in basketball, track, and cross-country. She ranks as one of the best pure shooters in Mercer County girls’ basketball history. Sandi was a 4-year letter winner for the Lady M’s and, during her senior year in 1986, she led her team to a 26-2 record and the PIAA District 10 Championship. Sandi was graduated from Princeton University where she ranks as the school’s all-time leading scorer in women’s basketball and was named Princeton’s women’s basketball athlete of the century. Upon graduation from Princeton, Sandi worked for the National Basketball Association office in New York City. Currently she is VicePresident of Business Operations for the Portland Fire in the WNBA
Class of 2001
Renzie Hoffman- Mercer boys’ basketball coach from 1943 to 1956, Mr. Hoffman won 74% of his games during that 13-year span. His teams won seven District X championships, with six of these clubs reaching the state final four before bowing to the WPIAL champions. Three of his former players: Jim McElrath, Gary Peters, and Tom Clayton scored more than 1,000 career points. During his tenure, Mr. Hoffman also coached football, track, and girls’ basketball. He is given credit for reinstating Mercer’s football program in the mid 1940s. Coach Hoffman retired from education in 1958 and he passed away in 1976.
Chuck Marsh- Chuck Marsh is believed to be the first ever track and field state champion at Mercer High School. In 1966 Chuck was undefeated in the javelin throw, where he broke his own school record six times. He was also the first ever Mercer County track athlete to eclipse the 200’ mark with a throw of 203’9‖. Chuck then went on to establish record setting throws at the collegiate level while attending Indiana State University. Chuck was active in the Mercer community throughout his life until he passed away in 1997.
Mark Brown- Generally recognized as the most versatile of all the outstanding basketball players during Mercer’s championship runs in the 1960s, he was the first player in Pennsylvania basketball history to start three straight state championship games, first as a point guard on the 1962 and 1963 teams and then as a forward on the 1964 state finalist club. Mark Brown’s 1,133 career points are the 7th best in Mercer boys’ basketball history. This exceptional all-around player is the school’s career assist leader, hold the school record for scoring as a sophomore, and holds the Mercer High School record for most consecutive made free throws (21 in 1963-64).
Ken Tarczy- Regarded as perhaps Mercer’s finest all-around athlete, Ken was a 3-sport star in high school excelling in football, basketball, and track where he earned a state medal. His 937 career points ranks 10th in Mercer boys’ basketball history. He also rushed for over 1,300 yards in football his senior year, and then qualified for the track and field state championships in three events the same year. Ken was graduated from Harvard University where he earned three varsity football letters and was named All-Ivy League, All-New England, and Honorable Mention All-American during his collegiate career.
1967 State Championship Basketball Team- The second of Mercer’s two consecutive state title teams in the mid-1960s, this tall, lightening quick, fast breaking team rolled to a 25-2 season under the leadership of Hall of Fame coach John Dale Swogger. The Mustangs posted a 20-2 regular season record. Led by All-State and All-American Hall of Famer Bob ―Posey‖ Rhoads, 6’7‖ rebounder and defender Art Adair, and the fast breaking back court trio of point guard Dave Knowlton, and wings Denny Mathieson and Dick ―Pickle‖ Harris, the Mustangs dominated four Western regional playoff opponents before running Eastern Regional champion Montrose off the Harrisburg Farm Show Arena floor 61-52 to capture the PIAA Class B championship. Other members of this championship team included sixth man Brent Long, along with Les Peters, Bernie Pyle, Jake Amos, Andy Frydrych, Jack Smolnik, and managers Tom Zimmerman, Calvin Redfoot, Harry Snyder, and Dick Burns.
Mark Hannay- Coach Hannay was selected for membership in a special category. This long-time track and field coach has been a member of the USA Track and Field’s National and Olympic Pole Vault Development and Education Committee and the National Pole Vault Coaches Staff. A noted expert in pole vault, Coach Hannay has published and co-authored articles, manuals, and exams on this track and field event. During Coach Hannay’s nine years as the Mercer Boys’ Head Track and Field Coach, his squads produced the highest winning percentage of all sports in Mercer Varsity Athletics’ history. Coaching record: 94% win/loss record (102 wins and 7 losses), three consecutive District X titles, five undefeated seasons, six Mercer County Championships, seven consecutive Tri-County Championships, six Mercer ―Coach of the Year‖ awards, seven Tri-County ―Coach of the Year‖ awards, and 48 Pennsylvania State Championship medals.
Class of 2002
Jim McElrath- Tyke‖ as he is known in basketball circles ranks as one of the top basketball players to come out of Mercer County and still ranks as one of Mercer County’s top all-time point makers. During his three-year span with the Mustangs beginning in 1950-1951, he tallied 1,404 career points, second in school history, and led his team to a three-year record of 6012, two District 10 Championships, and two trips to the Western Regional Finals. A twotime second team All-State selection, Jim McElrath scored 30 or more points in 12 games during his career.
Tom Clayton- Tom Clayton is Mercer’s 4th leading basketball scorer of all time with 1,176 career points and starred on three of Mercer’s outstanding teams in the 1950s under Coach Renzi Hoffman. Tom started on three Mustang teams that reached the Western Regional Class B Finals from 1952-1954. He was the Mercer County scoring leader and was named First Team All-State in his senior year.
John Harbison- John Harbison is generally recognized as the best rebounder in Mercer Baskeball History, not only was this 6’6—1958 strongman dominant off the glass, but he gave coach John Dale Swogger’s Mustangs an unstoppable inside scoring threat during both the 1961-1962 and 1962-1963 seasons as he helped lead the Mustangs to back-to-back Western Regional Championships. John Harbison ranks as Mercer’s 3rd leading scorer of all time with 1,249 points.
Jerry Woods- Jerry Woods was one of the most prolific long-range shooters in Mercer Basketball history. Jerry ranks as Mercer’s 7th leading all-time scorer with 1,159 points. A four-year basketball letter winner, he was the team leader in both scoring and assists in 1977-1978 and 19781979 on teams that advanced into the District 10 playoffs. Jerry Woods was noted for his ability to destroy all types of ―junk‖ defenses with his exceptional shooting range.
1985 State Champion 3200 Relay Team- This was Mercer’s first-ever State Championship Relay Team in Track. After qualifying for the state meet at a hotly contested District 10 Championship meet that year, the team coached by Jim Waldorf and Mark Hannay ran its best race of the season to capture the gold medal. Team members included regular runners Alex Borowicz, Kevin Cameron, Roland Hawk, and Steve Forrester and alternates Steve Podlaski and Jim Brady.
Jim Waldorf- Jim Waldorf is recognized as one of Mercer County’s most knowledgeable and most successful middle and long distance coaches in both Track and Cross Country. During Jim’s 36 ½ years as a coach, 35 of his athletes won state medals. His 1985, 3200 meter relay team won the PIAA State Championship, one of six state medalist relay teams that were under his direction. In Cross Country Jim Waldorf coached two District 10 Championship Teams and three teams that medaled at the State Championship Meet.
Class of 2003
Kevin Kubalic- Kevin was a multiple-sport participant in Mercer. He earned four varsity letters in track and wrestling and two in football. Kevin was the first wrestler in school history to record 100 career victories with a career record of 101-22. He was two-time section champion, threeyear place winner at District 10, three-year qualifier for the Northwest Region tournament and three-time qualifier for the Pennsylvania Junior National Freestyle team. He continued his wrestling career at NCAA Division I Slippery Rock University where was a three-time place winner at the regional tournament. Kevin holds the school record in pole vault with a vault of 14’5 ¾‖. After college Kevin turned his attention to coaching and expressed prior to his death in 2002, that he wanted to be remembered more for his coaching and dedication to the young people of Mercer than his own athletic accomplishments.
Eric O’Brien- Eric O’Brien was a two-time District 10 runner-up and one-time champion in the javelin. In 1988, as a sophomore, he became the District 10 Champion and earned a 4th place medal at the state championships at Shippensburg University. In 1989, as a junior, he was District 10 runner-up and placed 6th at the state championships. As a senior in 1990, he was again the District 10 runner-up, but went on to cap his senior year by standing on the highest platform and earning the title of state champion in the javelin. This was the third of his state place-winning awards. Eric is actively involved in the Junior Olympic Wrestling Program by coaching here at Mercer.
1971 Undefeated Tri-County League Championship Football Team- This squad remains the only Mustang football team to record an unbeaten and untied season in Mercer gridiron history. Led by their beloved coach, Gene Blakely, the Mustangs rolled through the rugged Tri-County League in posting a 9-0 season record. Mercer’s high powered wishbone offense, led by all-league quarterback Art Amos and all-state running back Gary Yeager, was virtually unstoppable all year. Defensively, the Mustangs were a swarming, hard-hitting unit keyed by Yeager and all-league middle linebacker Joe ―Butch‖ Burk. The signature games in Mercer’s unbeaten season included a mid-season home win over the powerful Mohawk team. And, in the next to the last game of the season in what was labeled the ―Battle of the Unbeatens,‖ the Mustangs outlasted a strong Shenango team on the road to put the exclamation point on Mercer’s memorable gridiron campaign. The 1971 team was represented by five All-Tri County first team members, five second team members, and the MVP of both the first and second team offenses.
Gina Scarsella-Trombley- This fine all-around student-athlete excelled in basketball, volleyball, and track. Her basketball honors include earning four varsity letters, being named second team all-county in 1986, first team all-county in 1987, and the all-county MVP in her senior year of 1988. She was also a standout in volleyball, leading the Lady M’s to their only M.C.A.C. volleyball title in 1988 while earning four varsity letters, being named to the all-county first team in her sophomore, junior, and senior years. Gina excelled in track and field earning three varsity letters and qualifying for the District 10 championships in her sophomore, junior, and senior years. She was also a state qualifier in the 1987-1988 season in the 100 meter hurdles. She is a graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point where she was a four-year letter winner in basketball, team captain, and earned first team all-conference honors. In 1993 she was named NCAA Woman of the Year at West Point.
David Palmer- David Palmer is perhaps the best pure shooter of all the great Mustang guards in Mercer basketball history. David, known for having the quickest shot release in Mercer basketball history, scored 595 points his junior year and 549 points his senior year. This sharpshooter, teamed with John Harbison, led coach John Dale Swogger’s Mustangs to back-to-back Western Regional Championships. Palmer earned third team all-state honors his junior year in high school and first team all-state honors his senior year in high school. AS the MVP for the Mustangs his senior year, he also was the leading scorer in Mercer County and was recipient of the Hoyle award. David ranks as Mercer’s 6th leading scorer of all time with 1,157 career points. After high school, Palmer earned a full athletic scholarship to West Virginia University. WVU utilized his skills as a player for four years and as a coach for an additional two. While at West Virginia University, David Palmer was a three-year starter and letter winner.
Class of 2004
William Snodgrass- Bill Snodgrass was one of the greatest shooters in Mercer High School Basketball history and was the proven finisher to the famed fast break attack. He was a three-year letter winner in basketball and a member of the 1965-1966 undefeated (28-0) state championship basketball team. He served as captain of the undefeated 1966 PIAA Class B State Champions, while leading his team in scoring during his junior and senior seasons scoring 353 and 642 points respectively. His 87.2 free-throw percentage is the best single season mark in school history. During his senior year he was the team MVP, named to the first team All-State (Class B), fourth team All-State (all classifications), and honorable mention All-American in 1966. Bill Snodgrass is a member of the 1000-point club at Mercer ranking 10th in school history with 1115 points. He went on to play college basketball at Division I St. Francis on a full scholarship. While at St. Francis, he was a three-year starter and letter winner, led the team in scoring during his junior year, named third team AllDistrict that same year.
Milo R. “Mike” Ringer- Mike Ringer was the first truly talented big man to wear the Mercer colors of Blue and White. As a freshman, he scored 122 points ranking second among all ninth graders in Mercer High School history; this was followed by team leading points of 163 and 314 in his sophomore and junior years respectively. His 766 career points rank him 18th in Mercer basketball history, despite missing most of his senior year. He led his team to a District 10 runner-up finish during that junior year of 1946-1947. Mike went on to play Division I basketball at Duquesne University, graduated in 1953 with a degree in accounting, earned a Masters degree in accounting from the University of Arizona and became a CPA. During his retirement, Mike was an avid fan of the Arizona Wildcats following the golf, basketball, and football teams around the country.
Class of 2005
Eric McKay- Eric holds the career record for wins in Mercer wrestling with an overall record of 119-16. A four-year letter winner for the Mustangs, he was a four-time champion at Grove City’s Fred Bell Memorial Tournament. In addition, Eric was a three-time District 10 champion and was a PIAA state qualifier in the 112-pound weight class in 1989. McKay earned four varsity letters while wrestling at Slippery Rock University and served as captain for the 1995-1996 SRU team. While at Slippery Rock University he placed third, as a runner-up, and as champion at the eastern regional wrestling tournament in 1994, 1995, and 1996 respectively. Eric was also a Division I national qualifier in 1996. Eric McKay was a graduate assistant at Slippery Rock University from 1996-1998 and earned both a bachelors and masters degree in accounting.
Dave Knowlton- The lightning quick point guard for Coach John Swogger’s 1966-1967 PIAA state championship team, Knowlton orchestrated Mercer’s devastating fast-break offense that rolled over five western regional playoff opponents, culminating in a state championship gave victory over Montrose at Harrisburg’s Farm Show Arena. A three-year letter winner in basketball at Mercer, Knowlton scored 439 career points and was an all-state honorable mention selection at the end of the 1966-1967 season. Knowlton continued his basketball career at Edinboro State College where he was a three-year varsity starter and an allconference selection in 1969. In 1991 Knowlton was inducted into the Edinboro Hall of Fame. Dave taught history for seven years at both Cadiz, Ohio High School and West Middlesex High School, serving as boys’ basketball coach at both schools.Dave Cook- Only the legendary Farrell coach Ed McCluskey won more games as a head boys’ basketball coach in Mercer County than Dave Cook. During his 26-year tenure as coach of the Mustangs, Cook compiled a win-loss record of 401-290, winning 58% of his games. Cook’s teams advanced into the District 10 playoffs 18 of his 26 years as head coach, winning two District 10 championships and six district runner-up trophies. His 1976-1977 Mustangs won the western regional championship and advanced to the PIAA state title game, losing to Cocalico at Hershey Park Arena. During Cook’s 26-year head coaching career, he compiled seven 20-win seasons and 16 winning seasons. Dave Cook taught mathematics at Mercer High School for 35 years.
1962 State Runner-Up Basketball Team- The 1961-1962 Mustangs under head coach John Swogger, assisted by Al Kornbau, became the first of six Mercer Basketball squads to play in a PIAA state final. This upstart team, made up of entirely underclassmen, rolled to a 25-5 record, winning the Tri County League championship. En route to the state title game, the Mustangs defeated playoff opponents Reynolds, 48-45, North East 76-71, and captured the District 10 title with a 5736 win over Linesville at Allegheny College. In the inter-district playoff, the Mustangs rolled over Emporium 69-59 to earn the right to face heavily favored WPIAL champion Edgewood in the western finals. In what may rank as the most memorable moment in Mustang Basketball history, junior sharpshooter Dave Palmer fired in a desperation shot from just inside the half-court line with seconds remaining in the game to give the Mustangs a thrilling two-point victory that catapulted Mercer into the state title game at Reading’s Albright College. There the Mustangs battled gamely against a tall and talented Darby-Colwyn team before falling 51-42.