Approaching the $400,000 mark, the Miracle Field of Indiana County got another boost Wednesday night as a result of the fifth annual Larry Panaia Memorial Bocce Tournament.
Tournament winners Chris Guerrieri and Joe Mauro, who have finished first in four of the five years the event has been held, had to go extra innings to bring home the top prize of $600, which they handed over to the YMCA where the proposed Miracle Field is to be located.
Guerrieri and Mauro bested the duo of Jim Mentch and Nathaniel Arthurs in a playoff where they took a turn at each of the four events in the tournament: bocce, horse shoes, corn hole and ring toss.
Held at the Morganti Sports and Recreation Complex on Creekside Road, the tourney drew its largest field to date with 20 two-man teams and approximately 30 other individuals who came to spectate and donate to the charities supported by the event.
In past years the cash collected, more that $6,000, has been given to the Indiana Library, Visiting Nurse Association, Chevy Chase Community Center and, of course, the Larry Panaia Scholarship Fund at IUP. This year the total collected was approximately $3,000, making the grand total for five years about $9,000.
Panaia’s widow, Carole, was there for the opening ceremony that included the national anthem, played and sung by Indiana musician Terry Sabo.
Chefs Dawn and Dave Cowen cooked up the hamburgers, sausage and wings, which were donated by Giant Eagle.
Many of the participants, who are regular members of the Wednesday Night Bocce League, also brought food and it was a veritable gourmet buffet with everything from stuffed hot peppers to delectable zucchini bread.
Door prizes included gift certificates from Benjamin’s and the Grapevine restaurants and a year’s memership to the YMCA.
Steelers tickets, donated by George Cummins, Denny Roumm and Bob Marcus, were auctioned with proceeds added to the pot.
A special thanks goes out to John Morganti and his wife, Laurae, who graciously host the event each year.
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Here’s an unusual twist. He got inducted into the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame in May and became a member of the board of directors on Thursday.
That would be Ab Dettore, former head football coach at Blairsville High School.
The Blairsville area has not had a representative on the board since the resignation of Bob Robinson several years ago. Since he resigned from both teaching and coaching at the conclusion of the school year, Dettore is a perfect fit for the hall of fame board.
In his 26 years at Blairsville, Dettore racked up a record of 147-99-4. He is a 1972 graduate of Blairsville High School and played at IUP under coach Bill Neal. He has also served as a PIAA basketball referee for 33 years.
Dettore will also embark on a new career when the current high school football season gets under way as he will join Chuck Clark as a color analyst on Blairsville Bobcats football broadcasts.
In other action Thursday evening the hall of fame board named Bill Hastings, of White Township, a director emeritus. Hastings was a member of the founding board in 1983 and has been a member since that time.