Another St. Peter's Fiesta sports season is in the books and once again, there were several memorable moments from the weekend's sporting events.
From the greasy pole to the seine boats, there was plenty of excitement, dominant individual performances and new champions. Let's rundown the top moments from the weekend.
Recently a young wave of walkers have taken over the greasy pole, and this year two more walkers established themselves among the elite as both Randy Sweet and Jake Wagner each have two flags.
Sweet made his greasy pole debut a memorable one as he took down both the Friday and Saturday flags. The last person to win both the Friday and Saturday greasy pole is Stew McGillivray, a six time champ.
Sweet was inches away from joining Jake Wood, a seven time champ, as the only walker to win all three competitions but he just missed the flag at the beginning of the third round, opening the door for Wagner to grab the win. An outstanding near miss from Lenny Taormina, another one of the elite walkers on the pole, was sandwiched in between Sweet's walk and Wagner's winning jaunt.
Wagner took down his second Sunday flag with relative ease in the third round. With most of the grease already fallen into the water thanks to about a dozen strong walks for the former champs and proteges on the Sunday platform, Wagner was able to flawlessly walk the length of the pole.
Both Wagner and Sweet look like a pair of walkers that aren't done winning either. Wagner is one of the more aggressive walkers on the platform as he attacks the pole with reckless abandon, and it works well for him. Sweet, on the other hand, is a slower, more methodical walker similar to Wood.
Add Sweet to the Sunday mix with Wagner, Taormina, Joe DaSilva and several other former champs that can win on any walk and we could be looking at some quick competitions in the coming years.
Men's Seine Boat Runaway
After Saturday's Men's Seine Boat Qualifying Race, Sunday's competition was shaping up to be a barn burner between three very good crews. The Merger held off Iron Will in a hotly contested Saturday race and the waiting 2016 champs, Forz'e Furia, wowed fans and fellow rowers the previous year.
Another tight race was expected, but The Merger made sure it was never really competitive. Led by coxswain Vito Giacalone, his four sons, five members of the Morrissey family along with rower Mike Mitchell and scuttler Joe Balbo, The Merger left no doubts as to which crew was the best crew this year by the midway point of the race.
The Merger grabbed a lead after a great start from all three crews and made the first move, and the second move, and the third move until the 2017 champs were coming out of the turn and heading for home before the other two crews even entered the turn.
By the time the Merger hit the beach, it would be 22 seconds before Iron Will crashed into the sand.
Blowouts can happen in many different ways and a lot of the time it's because somebody has a really bad day. That wasn't even close to the case on Sunday.
Second place Iron Will turned in a similar time on Sunday that it did on Saturday, when the eventual runners up hung right with The Merger.
Iron Will and Forz'e Furia rowed well, but the Merger was pretty much perfect. Giacalone and company did not wait for someone else to make a move, they did not capitalize on a mix up, they went out and snatched the 2017 championship with authority.
It was one of the most dominant race performances we have seen in a seine boat final and The Merger will certainly be the team to beat in 2018.
The 2017 champs were formed from last year's second and third place finishers, Lock n' Load and the Wharf Rats. Will there be another merger forming an all star crew to make a run at the champs next summer?
Odd Year Beasts
When it is an odd year, the Women's Seine Boat field is now basically a race for second. That's because Rowgue always seems to turn in its best performance on an odd year.
The 2017 champions have now won three of the last five championships in 2013, 2015 and most recently last Friday afternoon.
The Women's Final was a fight to the finish between all three crews as Oar'Dacious and 2016 champion Backlash pushed Rowgue from start to finish. But Rowgue was up to the task and was just too strong to be caught.
The now three-time champions have dominated when entering the field as the challenger building up to peak performance in two races.
Rowgue has proven to be an elite crew that can compete with, and win, against any women's crew out there. Separating Rowgue from the all time greatest women's crews, however, is a repeat championship. Oar'Daciousand Affirmative Action, the pioneers of the Women's Seine Boat Division that once rowed against the men, have strung together long championship streaks and that's the only thing missing from Rowgue's resume at the moment.
If Rowgue can repeat in 2018 and take home a fourth championship, it put them right up there with the all time best.
Greasy Pole Toppings
The greasy pole had a little bit of added flavor to it this year, literally.
The thick, heaping layer of grease that gave about 130 walkers fits was butter flavored crisco this year. If that weren't enough, the "Grease Gang" which greases up the pole on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings during the St. Peter's Fiesta, added donuts to the pole.
The greasy pole has been known to have banana peels hidden under the grease from time to time. It's tough to tell which is more difficult to traverse across, donuts or banana peels. Either way, all three days of competitions were top notch and both Randy Sweet and Jake Wagner didn't seem to have a ton of trouble with the buttery grease and donuts.
It was fitting that The Merger would take down the 2017 Men's Seine Boat championship as the crew was put together to pay homage to The Kids, one of the all time greats that were celebrating the 40 year anniversary of their first championship in 1977.
Vito Giacalone and Mike Morrissey were the two rowers that put The Kids together as recently graduated seniors in high school in 1977 and The Merger was comprised of four of Giacalone's and four of Morrissey's kids.
This weekend, The Kids got back together for a row to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that legendary row in the late 70's, the first of four championships for the crew.
The Kids are one of the best seine boat crews of all time, and now their kids are carrying the torch and winning multiple championships of their own.
Last Walk for a Legend
Sunday's greasy pole competition may have been the last time we see two of the sport's all time greats on the platform together.
Anthony "Matza" Giambanco, a five time champion, competed for the last time on Sunday and leaves behind a lasting legacy. Giambanco won both the Saturday and Sunday competition in 1975 and won again in 1977, 1978 and 1980. His most iconic win came when he remained standing at the end of the pole and stood next to the flag before bringing it down.
Salvi Benson, the all time champion with 11 flags, may have also made his final walk during Sunday's competition, although rumors of his retirement have been false in the past as he is truly the Michael Jordan of the greasy pole, the most decorated champion that keeps coming back because of his passion for the sport.
Whether it was their last walk or not, both Giambanco and Benson have clearly been great ambassadors of the sport for the younger walkers and helped make the greasy pole as popular as it is today.
Both legends may have another flag in their respective trophy cases if they had been able to walk on the Friday greasy pole, which debuted in 1999. If it weren't for walkers like Giambanco and Benson, we may not even have a Friday Greasy Pole competition.