Mars senior swimmer Maggie Gruber (seated) signed a letter of intent Wednesday to continue her academic and athletic careers at Virginia Tech. She is pictured with her parents, Bill and Corinne Gruber, in the Mars High School Athletic Office.
JUSTIN GUIDO/CRANBERRY EAGLE
ADAMS TWP — A Planet, a WPIAL champion and a state champion — all have been used to describe Mars star swimmer Maggie Gruber over the last few years. Beginning next fall, you can add Hokie to that list. The senior Wednesday signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and swimming careers at Virginia Tech. In her three previous seasons as a varsity swimmer, Gruber has won four WPIAL titles and four state titles, all in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke. “Her success has brought a lot of attention to our program,” said Mars coach Heidi Brandon. “It’s encouraged a lot of other girls to come out for the team.” It also had a plethora of Division I swimming programs knocking at Gruber’s door. “I started to get a lot of offers last year,” she said. “It was very overwhelming and I didn’t know how to narrow it down. “Then I realized what I was really looking for in a college,” she added. “I wanted to go to a good school with a nice campus and a well-coached team.” That wish list brought Gruber to Virginia Tech. Coach Ned Skinner has led the Hokies for the past 14 years. He has compiled a 117-39 record, including a 9-4 finish last season. “I visited the campus in September,” said Gruber, who will receive a full scholarship. “Coach Skinner is so nice and I know he can take me to the next level. It was a good fit for me.” Skinner plans to use Gruber in her two specialty events, the butterfly and backstroke, but she added, “They don’t want to pigeon-hole me and I could end up swimming other events. “I hope to do well at the (Atlantic Coast Conference) meet and I definitely want to qualify for NCAAs,” she added. “I know there are a lot of swimmers out there just as good as me.” Gruber, who plans to major in business, is relieved to have her college decision behind her before her senior season at Mars. “There just seems to be less pressure on me now,” she said. “I know I’m going to college and I know where I’m going.” Gruber also competes for the Fox Chapel Killer Whales swim club. Last summer, she swam the butterfly and backstroke at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. “I entered the arena and was speechless,” she said. “No words can describe it, but I think that experience will help me over the next few years.” Skinner could not be reached for comment.