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The Tunkhannock swim team will host the third annual Ernie Shartle Swimming and Diving Invitational this Friday evening, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 18.

The Tigers will welcome 18 teams to town this season. From the Wyoming Valley Conference, Nanticoke, Wyoming Area, Wyoming Seminary, Wyoming Valley West, Holy Redeemer, and Lake-Lehman will be in attendance.

Elk Lake, Abington Heights, Delaware Valley, Scranton, West Scranton, Valley View, Wallenpaupack, and Holy Cross will represent the Lackawanna League. Athens, Towanda, and Wellsboro, from the Northern Tier League, will also join the hosting Tigers in the competition.

Last year, the Tigers boys and girls teams each finished fourth and the Elk Lake boys finished eighth, while the Lady Warriors finished ninth.

The Shartle Invitational was many years in the making and, according to boys head coach Tim Mislevy, was something he thought about doing for awhile before it came together.

“This is our third year holding the event, and in the first two years, it has run very smoothly,” said Mislevy, who is also the Tiger’s diving coach. “Our numbers are up this year, but we really won’t be doing anything different.”

On the opening day of competition, diving will begin at 5 p.m. after the divers are all given warm up time. This will be an 11 dive meet.

Saturday, the pool will open at 8 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. swim events to begin. Swimmers may choose a combination of any four events to participate in.

The Invitational meet is named for the inspirational coach who led the Tigers swimming and diving team from the early 1970s up until current coach Mislevy was hand picked by the coach.

Mislevy returned to Tunkhannock Area as a substitute teacher, and Shartle saw his name on the substitute teacher list for the day. The coach began a conversation with his former diver, and asked Mislevy to take the reins of the diving program, to which Mislevy eagerly agreed.

When Shartle finally made good on his retirement threats, in the 1998-99 season, he asked Mislevy to take over the entire program, and Mislevy agreed again. This time with the promise of Shartle’s guidance and tutelage.

Mislevy wasn’t the only former Tiger to recognize coach Shartle’s impact.

“I think about all the kids he reached through the Learn to Swim program and the Red Cross lessons,” said Ed Murach, one of Shartle’s swimmers who went on to coach at Elk Lake. “It is amazing how many people he nudged towards swimming by just being him.”

Murach, Elk Lake’s elementary gym teacher, also remembered Shartle as being totally dedicated to the team, and it being a pleasure to be coached by Shartle.

“The swimmers this weekend need to remember Coach’s dedication to the sport and all the athletes. He was very competitive, but it was more than that,” said Murach.

He continued, “It was joyful, I never felt pressured, but I knew I wanted to do well, to do my best, and be the best- and Coach brought that out.”

“Coach was passionate about swimming, diving, teaching and his family,” said Mislevy. in an interview with the Times-Tribune earlier this week. “He was a great role model to the kids he taught and the athletes he coached. Coach taught them more than just an academic subject or swimming and diving, but how to be the best you could be. Coach had a gift of being able to know how to get you out of your comfort zone to help you reach the next level. I was one of the lucky ones to have the opportunity to say I had Coach as a teacher, coach, mentor and friend.”

Mislevy added, “We hope to bring all the

District Two teams together for this. It

is good competition at every event throughout the meet.”