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Nardellis bring rivalry to Stealey Invitational

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- The Stealey Invitational is many things to many people.

For most area swimmers and coaches, it's the culmination of all the hard work they've put into the sport for the past two months.

But for third-year Clarksburg Country Club coach Louie Nardelli, it's one last chance, at least for this year, to beat his little sister.

For the past two seasons, Natalie Nardelli has served as Stealey's swim coach. Thus far, the younger sibling has gotten the better of their head-to-head meetings.

Stealey won the invitational last year and beat Clarksburg Country Club in their only head-to-head meeting this summer.

"I've told our kids at the beginning of practices that our main goal was to win the Stealey Invitational," Louie Nardelli said. "We've used each meet to get a little better and hopefully we'll peak out this weekend.

"The kids here know who's coaching Stealey and most of the kids know each other. So there's definitely some rivalry here.

"If we lose to them again, I may have to sleep in the garage for a while," he added with a smile.

While older brother has been hard at work trying to bring out the best in his group, Natalie Nardelli has no plans of submitting to her brother's goal.

"I think we're going to win it," Natalie Nardelli, who will be a sophomore at Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa., said. "I enjoy competing against my brother, and the kids enjoy competing against those kids.

"It's good competition but it's also fun competition where you try your best to win, but then shake hands and go home friends when it's over."

But the meet is not a two-team race, Natalie Nardelli reminded that there are other teams capable of bringing home the title.

"The Fairmont Aquatic team is always strong, and Morgantown and Bridgeport usually field real good teams, too," she said. "We can't be so concerned with each other as much as making sure we're doing our best."

Most of the records for the invitational have been broken during the past few years, although a few remain from the 1960s and '70s.

"Swimming has become a year-round sport for a lot of these kids," said Louie Nardelli, a swim team member at Wheeling Jesuit University. "Some of these kids practice as much as I do.

"When I was younger, it was more of who had the most natural ability. Now, it's who has the ability, plus who's practiced the most and worked the hardest to improve."

Coaching Stealey was always a dream for both.

"When I was ready, Stealey already had an established coach," Louie Nardelli, a senior at WJU, said. "So when I was offered the job here, I took it and haven't been sorry I did."

"Things kind of worked out for both of us," Natalie Nardelli said. "We're both doing something we've wanted to do since we were in middle school.

"I've had the time of my life coaching these kids. I hope I do half as much for them as they do for me."

The annual Stealey Invitational will take place this Friday and Saturday at the Stealey Pool, located at the end of Stealey Avenue in Clarksburg.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, which will feature individual trials. Individual finals and relays will be held on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com.

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