Saegertown players shine in Lions Club All-Star basketball game

by Bailey Kozalla, editor-in-chief

Lions_Clubs_International_logo.svg_-1024x971.pngSaegertown seniors Owen Chess and Stevie Siple brought their basketball talents to Maplewood High School on March 26 in the All-Star game. Sponsored by Townville Lions Club, the game featured two teams of seniors separated into East and West teams. Chess and Siple played for the West.

The East was coached by Dave Gjovic of Maplewood and the West was coached by Mark McElhinny of Meadville. The Crawford County players included seniors from Saegertown, Cambridge Springs, Maplewood, Meadville, Cochranton, and General McLane.

The annual All-Star game is laid-back and high scoring by nature. Combining impressive shot attempts, and a plan to drive in with either a cool pass or an open three-point shot, the East team defeated the West with a score of 106-66.

Despite the loss, Siple and Chess contributed with two and eight points respectively.

“I got to really enjoy my last game without all the stress of competition. I am grateful for the experience to play,”Siple said.

Chess said, “It was a really fun game overall even though it was more relaxed. It was fun to go out on the court and just enjoy myself.”

In a Meadville Tribune interview, Harry Zurasky of the Townville Lions Club said, “It was an interesting game. They all shared the ball well. They all had fun and they compete all those years, and tonight they get to just have fun together.”

United States athletes make history at 2018 Winter Olympics

by Nick Archacki, staff writer

After sixteen straight days of televised competition for winter athletes all around the world last month starting on Feb. 10, the twenty-third Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea concluded with the extinguishment of the Olympic torch at the closing ceremonies. From rising stars to veterans, our United States athletes had an impressive showing at the Olympics, creating historic moments along the way.

On Feb. 11, a pair of U.S. athletes, Red Gerard and Chris Mazdzer, brought home medals in the Men’s Slopestyle Snowboarding and Men’s Singles Luge competition. Gerard, a seventeen year old snowboarder, brought home the United States first gold medal in the games and his first Winter Olympics medal. Mazdzer brought home the United States first ever medal, another gold, in Men’s Singles Luge, Mazdzer’s first ever Olympic medal as well.

Feb. 12 was another good day for the U.S. as snowboarder Jamie Anderson brought home her second consecutive gold medal in the Ladies’ Slopestyle competition, making her the first female snowboarder to win more than one Olympic gold medal. The U.S. Figure Skating Team also brought home a bronze medal on the twelfth.

Feb. 13-14 were historic days for the United States because of the performances from two U.S. athletes. On Feb. 13, Chloe Kim, a seventeen year old snowboarder, brought home gold in the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe with fellow American Arielle Gold placing third in the same competition to earn the bronze medal. With Kim’s win, she became the youngest woman ever to win an Olympic snowboarding medal.

Feb. 14 was the start of another memorable Olympic moment for Shaun White. The thirty-one year old icon, who holds the record for the most X-Games gold medals and also has the most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder, won his third Olympic gold medal in the Snowboard Men’s Halfpipe competition. Not only did White complete his third run with a fantastic 97.75 score, he won the United States their one-hundredth Winter Olympics gold medal, the second ever country to accomplish that feat in the Winter Olympics.

The next five days were pretty tame for the United States, except for Feb. 15. On that day one of the most famous winter athletes in the world currently, Mikaela Shiffrin, won her second gold medal in the Ladies’ Giant Slalom competition. Shiffrin’s win tied her with Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence for the most Olympic gold medals ever won by an American Olympian in alpine skiing. There were no medals won by the U.S. on February 16 and 19, but there were still a pair of athletes who brought home medals on February 17 and 18. Pittsburgh native John-Henry Krueger brought home a silver medal for the United States in the Short Track Speed Skating competition on February 17 and on the eighteenth, Nick Goepper brought home another silver medal for the U.S. in the Men’s Ski Slopestyle competition.

Feb. 20-22 were fantastic days for U.S. athletes in figure skating, skiing, and hockey. On Feb. 20, siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani brought home a bronze medal in the Figure Skating Ice Dance competition along with Brita Sigourney bringing home another bronze for the United States in the Ladies’ Ski Halfpipe competition.

Feb. 21 was a day of rejoice for all the U.S. medalists winners and a sad one for one skiing legend, Lindsey Vonn. Vonn, age thirty-three, announced earlier in the week that this would most likely be her final Olympics in her storied career. Even though this would supposedly be Vonn’s last Olympics, she still gave her best effort even through years of injury by bringing home a bronze medal for the United States in the Ladies’ Downhill Skiing competition. Although a great career would be coming to an end, that was by far not the top headline of the day with multiple medals being won by the female U.S. athletes.

The U.S. Ladies’ Speed Skating team won a bronze medal, the U.S. Women’s Bobsleigh team came home with a silver medal, and the biggest highlight of the day was when the team of Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall brought home the United States first ever medal, a gold medal, in U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Skiing history in the Team Free Sprint competition. Diggins, who finished out the final half of the competition while Randall started the run, beat out her opponent by half a ski length to earn the United States another medal.

The concluding days at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics witnessed even more historic moments for the United States on Feb. 22 and 24 as the Americans did not win medals on Feb. 23 and 25. Feb. 22 another big day for the United States as Mikaela Shiffrin made another run at a gold medal, this time in the Ladies’ Alpine Combined competition, coming up just short earning a silver medal. David Wise won back-to-back gold medals in the Men’s Ski Halfpipe competition with U.S. teammate Alex Ferreira standing right beside him on the podium, winning the silver medal. Also, on the twenty-second, the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team won our country’s first ever gold medal in the competition, beating Canada in a penalty shootout, 3-2. Ending the day for the U.S., Jamie Anderson also brought home a silver medal in the Ladies’ Snowboard Big Air Competition.

The final medals were earned for the United States on Feb. 24 and another first time milestone was achieved for the U.S. Men’s Curling team. The team of Team Shuster brought home the United States first ever gold medal in Men’s Curling. In conclusion, the final U.S. medal was earned by snowboarder Kyle Mack in the Men’s Big Air competition and bringing the overall medal count for the United States to twenty-three. All the medals consisted of nine gold, eight silver, and eight bronze medals, the fourth best country in the Winter Olympics this year.

To end the journey for United States at the Olympics, the U.S. Paralympic Team competed in the 2018 Paralympic Winter Olympics, also in PyeongChang, from March 9-18. Our United States paralympic athletes had an impressive performance at the games, their best in sixteen years, by bringing home thirteen gold, fifthteen silver, and eight bronze medals, leading all of the countries in medals this year in the paralympic games.

The next Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China in 2022.

Crowl caps successful swim season at Districts

by Dustin Steiger, broadcast director

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Ben Crowl successfully completes the 100 breaststroke on Saturday, Mar. 3.

Junior Ben Crowl has been pushing all season for districts, and his efforts most certainly paid off.

For three years, Crowl has been swimming for Meadville Bulldog swim team, but this season has been his best. He qualified for districts in the 200 IM with a time of 2:25:34, and in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:12:29. This all led to the pinnacle of his season. On March 2-3 Crowl went with his team to Districts at the Spire Institute of Ohio, prepared to go big or go home.

At Districts, he smashed his own PR in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08:75, shaving an entire 3.5 seconds off and placing eighth in the event overall. He also swam a 2:22:61 in the 200 IM, once again beating his own record and placing seventh in the process. This winning streak continued as Crowl and his team placed third in the 200 medley relay and second in the 400 free relay, ending the team’s season with a bang.

“It was my best [season] so far…” Crowl said. “I’m going to train hard in the off season and prepare to go even faster next year.”

PIAA State Wrestling: A pair of grapplers head to Hershey

by Laura Monico, social media editor

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Kenny Kiser and Cody Mulligan will arrive in Hershey this afternoon to prepare for the state wrestling tournament.

Two Panthers headed to Hershey this morning, March 7, to compete at the 2018 PIAA State Wrestling Championships. Grapplers Cody Mulligan and Kenny Kiser will each look to earn a spot on the podium.

Mulligan is a returning 2017 State Champion, and he is hoping to earn his second title this weekend at the 182 lbs. weight class. “My goal is to wrestle my best and hopefully earn my second state title,” he said. Mulligan has had a very successful high school career thus far and will continue his career at Edinboro University. He has many emotions heading into the final tournament of his high school career. “I have some mixed feelings about this being my last tournament, but I’m ready for the future,” Mulligan said.

Kiser, a sophomore who wrestles at 126 lbs., is also excited for the big weekend ahead.  He said, “I’m excited to see how far my hard work will get me.” Although Kiser qualified for the 2017 Championships, he fell short of earning a medal. This year he has higher hopes. “My goal is to medal in the top four of my weight class.” 

Mulligan and Kiser will begin their journey on Thurs. March 8 at 9 a.m.. Depending on the wrestlers’ performance, the medal round will be held on Sat. March 10 at 7 p.m..

For updates, follow The Panther Press on twitter @PantherPressSHS. Sports editor Braeden Kantz will be tweeting live throughout the tournament. 

Lone Panther qualifies for Districts in swimming

by Laura Monico, social media editor

Ben Crowl

Junior Ben Crowl, who swims for the Meadville Bulldogs, will swim at districts this weekend.

Saegertown junior Ben Crowl has clinched his spot for the 2018 District 10 championships at the SPIRE Institute. Crowl, who swims for the Meadville Bulldogs, will compete in four events starting this Friday March 2.  

Crowl has qualified for the 200 IM, Medley relay, 100 m breaststroke, and the 400 m free relay. He qualified for the 200 IM with a time of 2:25:34 and the 100 m breaststroke with a time of 1:12:29. For the two individual events in which he qualified, Crowl’s time was a personal best. “I am a lot better than last year. I started lifting weights and swimming over the summer to better prepare for this season,” Crowl said. For this weekend, he hopes to “swim fast and set new personal records.”

Districts begins this Friday and Crowl will be competing in the 200 IM and the medley relay. He will race in the 100 M breaststroke and the 400 M free relay on Saturday. Crowl feels like he is prepared for this weekend. “My coaches have been a huge influence on my swimming abilities this past season,” he said.  

 

McCutchen trade creates roller coaster emotions for Pirates fans

by Nick Archacki, staff writer

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Nick Archacki, staff writer

As a Pirates fan, I believe it is time to touch on what has been a very tough start to the year for Pirates fans around the world with the trade of five time MLB All-Star and 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen’s trade to the San Francisco Giants on Jan. 15 created anger amongst Pirates fans as their star player and the face of the Pirates franchise was traded away. The Pirates received a disappointing and unfair trade deal from the Giants, receiving two low profile players along with a low amount of cash, for the amount of love, talent, and pride McCutchen gave to Pirates fans as well as fans having the same connections to McCutchen. In addition, just three days prior to the McCutchen trade, Pirates ace pitcher Gerritt Cole was traded to the Houston Astros, making Pirate fans ever more frustrated.

McCutchen was drafted by the Pirates in 2005 as a first round pick and had a successful as an Indianapolis Indian, the AAA Pittsburgh Pirates farm team, prior to starting in the MLB. The 5’10” rookie started his first game as a Pirate on June 4, 2009 with a hit in his first at bat in the big leagues, brought in an RBI and scored three runs in their victory against the New York Mets. McCutchen’s performance gave Pittsburgh hope that their team might have a rising star who would bring their team out of the dust and into the spotlight. Five years later, the Pirates and their fans were able to see that dream come true as McCutchen led the Bucs to the playoffs in 2013, 2014, and 2015 after a twenty year playoff drought.

McCutchen was the biggest star for the team ever since Willie Stargel, changing the team from being one of the worst in the MLB for many years to one the best in the National League. As McCutchen will be starting a new career and life in San Francisco, he has been very excited and emotional about his new life and how much he cares for the city of Pittsburgh and his Pirate fans. The day the trade was announced, McCutchen wrote a touching tweet to his fans on Twitter: “Pittsburgh. My Home. My Fans. My City. The place that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart. A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect, Cutch.”

McCutchen also wrote an emotional article to Pittsburgh for The Players Tribune saying, “It’s just a trade. It’s not an eraser to my time as a Pirate, and it’s definitely not a goodbye to the city of Pittsburgh. My time playing for this team… it doesn’t go away, just because I’m going to play for another. If you see me, say hey and maybe throw a “Cutch!” in if you’re in the mood. I’ll be the guy who looks familiar, walking around like he knows the place with a few fresh tears, and a big ol’ smile with San Francisco on his shirt, and Pittsburgh in his heart.”

As the years went on, McCutchen created many memories for Pittsburgh Pirates fans to cherish for the rest of their lives including his performance in his first ever game as a Pirate, his fantastic walk-off home run against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park in 2015, and his first ever grand-slam in his career in 2017.  Us Pirates fans will remember these moments forever, but sadly we will most likely never see him again evolve as a player in a Pirates uniform and all we have to share now with friends, family, and fellow Bucco fans are McCutchen’s memories as a Pirate, which is going to be more than difficult to see him not at PNC Park playing in center field or building our inner excitement as McCutchen would be coming up to bat.  For Pirate fans all around, it’ll especially be hard to see Cutch at PNC Park this year playing the game he loves in the city he loves, wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey. Just remember these words from McCutchen: “Pittsburgh…It’s Home. It Will Always Be Home.”

 

Super Bowl LII satisfies local fans

by Autumn Jones, marketing director

There’s one game which is so highly anticipated throughout the football season and rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars. This game is an annual tradition in the NFL and is the goal for every single team in the league as they play their hearts out in the sixteen regular season games. This year’s Super Bowl LII was held at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4.

Leading up to the game, the Super Bowl Host Committee hosted a ten day festival called Super Bowl LIVE. The festival featured free concerts, ice sculptures, food, and other attractions. The activities were all held at Nicollet Mall, a twelve block portion of Nicollet Ave running through downtown Minneapolis. Super Bowl LIVE was presented by Verizon Wireless and ran from Jan. 26 to Feb. 4. Concerts included many smaller name acts, as well as a few larger name acts such as Rae Sremmurd and X Ambassadors. All activities were free of charge to those who attended.

To open the highly anticipated game, well-known pop singer P!nk sang the National Anthem rather beautifully, despite battling the flu the week before. She refused to give up what she considers one of the biggest honors and a dream of hers since watching Whitney Houston perform at the Super Bowl. P!nk gave a stellar performance, only struggling a little towards the end of the anthem.

The AFC champion New England Patriots faced the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, with the Eagles winning 41-33. Going into the game, fans were skeptical of who would win. Mrs. Melissa Statman said,  “It depends on which team shows up for the Philadelphia Eagles.”

The Super Bowl LII win was chalked up as a first for the Eagle’s throughout the entire franchise’s history, despite this being their third trip. Third time’s a charm, right? The Patriots’ returned to the Super Bowl for the tenth time, being the first team in NFL history to return with that record. As for records, the combined total yardage between the Eagles and Patriots set a new record throughout both regular season and playoff season in NFL history at 1,150 total yards.

How about we talk money? Want to purchase a 30 second commercial to be aired and seen by millions between plays during the game? You’ll have to shell out 7.7 million dollars. What about the tickets? An average Super Bowl LII ticket cost in the range of $2,500 to $3,000. Think that’s a lot of money? That wasn’t anywhere close to the most expensive tickets sold for the game. The most expensive tickets, costing a whopping $20,500, were for a pair of seats near the 50-yard line.

Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance included a tribute to Minnesota native Prince. He started the show with his song “Filthy,” from his new album which released on Feb. 2. The new release was followed by throwbacks such as “Rock Your Body” and “Sexy Back.” The entire performance was filled with energy, dancing, lights, and many transitions.  He then wrapped up the performance with the tribute to Prince, which featured a projection of Prince singing “I Would Die 4 You” while Timberlake performed on the piano and sang alongside the projection. Deadline.com called the tribute a “botched performance,” however; senior Dominic Steiger said, “I enjoyed the tribute to Prince towards the end. It was a good performance by Justin.”

Many believe the fate of the game was sealed in the fourth quarter when Tom Brady was sacked by defensive end Brandon Graham and was recovered by the Eagles, giving them possession of the ball. Steiger said, “When I saw the fumble happen, I was singing the Eagles’ Fight Song for the next two hours and into the next day at school.” He added, “Overall it was a good game. We (Eagles) just wanted it more and deserved it more. The Patriots couldn’t match the intensity throughout the game.”

Coach Greg Molnar takes technical for Iroquois teen

By Bailey Kozalla, Kaity Gage, and Stevie Siple, Editor-in-Chief, Design Editor, Staff Writer

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Coach Greg Molnar

Doing the right thing when the opportunity presents itself is one of the unspoken rules of being a coach. That is exactly what Saegertown boys basketball coach Greg Molnar did on Dec. 22 at Iroquois High School.

With a definite loss in sight for the Panthers, Iroquois basketball coach Brad Breese substituted physically challenged junior Jared Anderson into the game, hoping he could score his first points in his varsity career.

With less than two minutes left on the clock, and the score 71-32, Molnar told Breese to call a timeout. He knew that Anderson’s best chance at scoring was to shoot from the foul line.

Molnar spoke to the official, “If he misses the shot, and we get the rebound, then give me a technical.”

Working according to plan, Saegertown recovered the ball, and the referee blew his whistle signaling a technical foul. Anderson went to the foul line.

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Iroquois player Jared Anderson takes his first of two shots at the line after Saegertown Coach Greg Molnar receives a technical foul.

At this moment, the atmosphere of competition in the gym transitioned to one of emotional camaraderie. After Anderson missed the first free throw, the gym fell silent for his final shot. Once the ball left Anderson’s hand, it banked off the backboard, and swished.

Before the ball even hit the floor, the crowd erupted in cheers that lasted for what seemed like minutes.

Anderson also scored the final shot in the game, taking his total points for the evening to three. 

Coach Molnar described the moment with characteristic humility:  “It was an opportunity to provide a memory and normalcy for a kid who obviously loved basketball but faces challenges no one of us can understand.”

Anderson has been playing the game since he was four years old. Thirteen years later, all of his hard work paid off. “I felt awesome. I’d like to thank your coach and your players being so nice about it. It was a Christmas present for being able to get in and score a basket.”

Anderson plans to attend Edinboro University for either sports medicine or management while also playing on a wheelchair basketball team.

A devoted fan, Charles Curtis expressed his viewpoint in a letter to Principal Tom Baker: “I was very impressed by the way your coach allowed a disabled boy on our Iroquois team to take a shot following a requested technical on Molnar’s part. It was a very emotional moment for me and the people in the gym went wild.”

Curtis has followed local basketball teams for many years, and has never witnessed anything like it. “The young man will remember this moment for the rest of his life. This is what high school sports is all about. Your coach should be recognized for his courtesy.”

Iroquois Assistant Principal Jeannene Willow was also impressed by Saegertown’s sportsmanship. “That was certainly my favorite game of the season this year. I really thought it showed a lot of class on Saegertown’s part. I’m going to remember that game for a long time,” Willow said. 

Experiencing the emotion of the crowd, Willow said, “There weren’t too many dry eyes in the gym that night.”

Karen Anderson, Jared’s mother and biggest fan, was speechless. “I was holding my breath. He’s played wheelchair basketball before. That’s been basically all he could do. He managed last year, and I convinced him to play this year.”

Mrs. Anderson has been anticipating his first moments of playing, “When they put him in finally, it was the greatest thing I have ever seen. He works hard at everything he does.”

She described her emotions while watching her son: “When I saw him out on the floor, I wanted to cry and I wanted to scream and I wanted to cheer all at the same time.”

Mrs. Anderson expressed her gratitude to Saegertown as a whole. “I thank the coach, I thank the fans, and I thank the players. I appreciate your school and how they reacted. The sportsmanship they showed means so much.”

(This story was originally published in the Feb. 14 issue of The Panther Press.)