It’s an exciting time for Wheeling Park High School’s Mia Sunseri.
On Saturday, the Patriot senior qualified for the 2021 Olympic Trials in the 200-meter breaststroke following her fourth-place performance in the U.S. Open in Richmond, Va. She said she was thrilled with her achievement, but her finish Saturday was even more rewarding because she feels she underperformed at the same event a year ago. Sunseri, a swimmer for the Wheeling YMCA team, said she will never forget sharing the moment with her father, Anthony Sunseri, who is also her coach.
“When I looked at the scoreboard Saturday, it meant to so much to me because I had finally done it,” she said. “There were tears in my eyes, and the first person I looked to was my dad. He’s my coach, and we’ve been working toward this for years.
“I’m honestly just very happy, excited and grateful for making it,” Sunseri added. “ I’m also a little relieved because I fell short last year at the U.S. Open. I’m honestly still shocked, and it’s still setting in.”
A chance at becoming a United States Olympian is not the only opportunity Sunseri is looking forward to. Next fall, she will be a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the Panther Swimming and Diving Team. She will swim under head coach John Hargis who was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team.
Sunseri said she chose Pitt for several reasons. She said the school is well respected for academics and athletics, and she is also following in the footsteps of her father and other family members.
“My dad was a swimmer at Pitt,” she said. “My father’s uncle, Sal Sunseri, was a football All American there, and my cousin, Tino Sunseri, was the quarterback there. I couldn’t be more excited to join Pitt’s team and family. I can’t wait to race and train with everyone on the team.”
Sunseri is a member of the National Honor Society, and she is a three-time U.S. Swimming Scholastic All-American. She plans to major in communications and minor in political science at Pitt, and she may pursue a career in broadcasting. Sunseri said she became interested in broadcasting after taking the broadcasting classes of teacher Caroline Dillon in the Career and Technical Education Department at Wheeling Park.
“I’m going to be completer (of the program) this year,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed that program a lot.”
Sunseri has been swimming for years as a member of the Wheeling YMCA team. As a 13-year-old eighth grader, she placed 14th in the 200-meter breaststroke at the YMCA Long Course Nationals. Sunseri was one of only 87 competitors to qualify for the event that included experienced high school athletes who went on to swim at the collegiate level. Three years later, in 2019, Mia swam to gold in the 200-meter breaststroke at YMCA Nationals.
Sunseri said she truly loves swimming for the Wheeling YMCA, and she thanked her family, teammates and mentors for helping her to achieve her goals.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said. “One that I would have never realized without the support of my mother, father and sister.”