Athlete of the Month: Frankie Ruggiero

Athlete of the Month - Frankie Ruggiero golf

A multi-talented athlete at Dunmore High School, sophomore Frankie Ruggiero excels on the golf course.

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore High School sophomore Frankie Ruggiero is multi talented.

Son of Vito and Christine Ruggiero, Dunmore, Frankie is a three-sport athlete and sophomore class president.

He was a starting second baseman as a freshman for the Dunmore baseball team under coach Mike “Sid” Hallinan.

He was the backup point guard as a freshman on the varsity basketball team. And his best sport is golf where he was superb as a freshman and sophomore.

His coach for basketball and golf is Tony Lacertoso.

As a freshman golfer last year, he won the Jackman tournament in the freshman division and was team MVP.

He has 30 individual wins in match play in two years.

He is the seventh golfer in the last nine years to make it to the Regional Tournament.

The scholar-athlete, an honor student with a 90 academic average, qualified in districts (top six scores in District AA) and made the Regional Tournament this year. That took place at Golden Oak golf course in Fleetwood, PA. He missed the cut by one stroke to go to the states.

For this past season, he was named to the first team small school division all stars.

The talented sophomore talked about what it takes to excel in golf. “You need to practice a lot on your own,” he said. “You need the time to practice. It’s an individual sport.

Athlete of the Month - Frankie Ruggiero & Coach Lac

Frankie Ruggiero poses with his golf coach, Tony Lacertoso, during this past season.

“When I was a kid, I watched my dad and uncle playing golf. I thought it would be fun. So I took it up and practiced and practiced.”

Frankie said he has learned a lot from his golf coach at Dunmore, Tony Lacertoso.

“He is real good on the course. He gets me into a zone and calms everyone down. He is a very good coach.”

The three-sport star made sure to mention his baseball coach at Dunmore, Sid Hallinan.

“He makes it fun to be there every single day. We have a good time, but also work hard at it.”

Frankie, whose best academic subject is math, said his parents teach him “to always be respectful.”

He talked about his future goals. “I want to go to college and see where the road takes me. I would like to play golf or baseball in college if possible. But eventually, I want to become a doctor.”

He mentioned an interest in orthopedics.

Humble in nature, Frankie is well versed in school. Besides playing three varsity sports and being sophomore class president, he is a member of the Health Careers Club, the French Club and is a sophomore Class Officer.

Athlete of the Month - Frankie Ruggiero baseball

Frankie Ruggiero is second baseman for the Dunmore High School’s baseball team.

He plays Legion baseball in the summer and played several years of travel baseball with The Sandlot under Chris Davis and Frank Cwalinski.

As a golfer, he made Regionals last year and missed by a stroke to go to States.

“My goal as a golfer is to make it further and go as far as possible in States. I want to continue improving my golf game. And I want to continue having a good time playing.”

Frankie said he loves playing the three sports and his hobbies are fishing and hunting.

“I also like hanging out with my friends.”

He talked about what it is like going to Dunmore High School. “It’s a great school. I like it a lot. We get the job done with our work in the classroom. It’s a great school and the teachers are great to talk to.

“I would not want to go anywhere else.”

Lacertoso Keeping Dunmore Golf Program in High Gear

DHS Varsity golf team

Members of the Dunmore High School varsity golf team include, from left: Coach Tony Lacertoso, Sean Dempsey, Frankie Ruggiero, Christopher Murray, Owen Haggerty, Dominic DePietro and Brian McKitish. The team finished with an overall record of 15-2, the most wins in the school’s history.

By Steve Svetovich

Tony Lacertoso is entering his 14th season as the Dunmore High School basketball coach, but he took on a new venture this year.

He just completed his first season as the Dunmore varsity golf coach.

And it was a highly successful season as a group of six starters, including four seniors, led the golf team to a 15-2 record. The team finished second in the league before battling Scranton Prep in the championship during playoff action.  Dunmore had to win two rounds before getting to Scranton Prep in the championship.

Dunmore and Prep were tied after 18 holes in the championship. Then the Bucks lost to the Cavaliers in a one hole playoff.

The Dunmore golf team had 23 members this season. The four senior starters were Dominick DiPietro, Chris Murray, Sean Dempsey and Brian McKitish. The other two starters were sophomore Owen Haggerty and freshman Frank Rugierio.

“All six of our starters qualified for districts at Elmhurst Country Club,” said Lacertoso. “It was a tremendous feat for these six boys.”

Lacertoso gave a lot of credit to the four seniors for the team’s great success. “Our four seniors showed great leadership. They took the younger guys under their wing right from the start. All four of them played four years on the golf team.

“I am so proud of these boys. They work so hard and excel both on the golf team and in the classroom. There are so many times I heard them talking about their tests and homework assignments on the bus going to and from a match. They are so respectful of everyone.”

Lacertoso talked about what it takes to succeed as a high school golfer. “You need to play the game. You can’t just come to tryouts without playing in the summer. You have to play the game as much as possible to be successful at it. Playing the game is the most important thing. Keep practicing.”

Lacertoso said DiPietro had a special accomplishment during the season when he qualified for Regionals at the Golden Oak Country Club in Reading.  

He talked about making the transition as a golf coach. “Well, I did assist Mark Finan for three years previously. So I had some experience at it. It is totally different from basketball. It’s a totally different ball game. Coaching basketball is so intense. Golf is more laid back. Still, golf can be nerve wracking. It does require a lot of attention.

“I enjoyed it tremendously. And I am really looking forward to next season. We are losing the four seniors, but Haggerty and Rugierio and the rest of the team learned from them and have some experience now. We want to keep the team at a highly competitive level.

“The team played very well this year. Every kid had double digit wins this year. The two younger starters really have a lot of experience now. Everyone on the team helped each other out. It was a great season and situation for all of us.”

In the meantime, Lacertoso is gearing up for his 14th season as Dunmore basketball coach. “We are in conditioning already.”


Athlete of the Month: John Mandarano

athlete-of-the-month-mandarano-2By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore Bucks senior guard John Mandarano comes from a family full of athletes, so being a leader seems to come rather natural.

And that’s what he has been in the early going for his coach Tony Lacertoso.

Son of John and Rita Mandarano, Dunmore, the quick senior guard scored 12 points in the team’s opening game, a tough 44-40 loss to North Pocono.

However, he led the Bucks with 11 points in Dunmore’s second game, a 35-34 win over West Scranton.

Daniel Walsh added eight points for the Bucks in the win.

A three-year member of Dunmore’s varsity basketball team, Mandarano will be playing his fourth year of baseball this season. A pitcher-outfielder, he batted .310 last season while showing great promise on the mound. He is also a three-year member of Dunmore’s cross country team.

John’s older brother P.J., a 2015 Dunmore graduate, excelled in baseball and basketball at the school.

His younger brother Joe plays baseball, basketball and runs cross country as a freshman at Dunmore.

His sister Bella, a sophomore at Dunmore, plays softball and basketball at the school.

His sister Mia, a junior at Dunmore, plays basketball and softball at the school.

John averaged over 12 points per game as a junior last season for the Bucks.

A 90 student academically, he is a member of the Spanish Club and is usually on the honor roll.

The scholar-athlete said he is not sure yet where he will attend college, but may study business management and wants to continue playing baseball or basketball.

He talked about what it takes to be a good guard in high school basketball. “You need to work hard. You need to find the open man or take the open shot for an easy basket.”

mandarano-1He said coach Lacertoso has taught him a lot.

“He taught me to never give up whether winning or losing. He tells me to always stay positive and give a strong effort.”

His parents give him similar advice. “They tell me I can do anything I want in life. They tell me to just work hard at it and never give up. Never give up your dreams. With hard work, you can fulfill your dreams.”

He talked about his future goals and the immediate goals of the team.

“I want to go to a good college and play baseball or basketball. I want to see where that takes me. I want to do well in school and get a good job.

“As far as the team, I want to help us finish with a good record, win the division and win the district title. Then we can try to go further.”

A country music and Luke Bryan fan, the senior stalwart talked about the Dunmore team concept. “We try to work together as a team. We take one game at a time. We play as a team and do what we can on the court to be successful. It is a team game for all of us.”

And with a family member playing sports in every single grade at Dunmore High School this year, John has certainly enjoyed his experiences. “I have really enjoyed my family, friends and work in the classroom at Dunmore. The experiences in the classroom and with sports have been great. I have made a lot of friends. It is a great place to be for me.”