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.)

 

Bowlers hold on to make Ven-Craw playoffs

by Nick Archacki, staff writer

Nick Archacki

Saegertown sophmore Nick Archacki bowling on Jan. 3.

After a rough start to the season, the Saegertown bowling team has advanced to the Ven-Craw quarter-finals by placing sixth of eight teams that could’ve advanced to the first round of playoffs. Saegertown was able to maintain its sixth place position with the help of a fourth place finish in the final regular season match at Buffalo Street Lanes in Franklin.

The teams that have made this years playoffs are Cranberry Maroon (No.1 seed), Conneaut Lake Blue (2), Meadville Red (3), Conneaut Lake Silver (4), Cambridge Springs Blue (5), Saegertown (6), Oil City Blue (7) and Cranberry White (8).

“It’s been a pretty tough year for us I’d say because we lost two seniors that helped us win the last two championships and losing that kind of talent has been hard for us to adjust to,” senior Michael Costello said. “Although, I’m very thankful that our two new bowlers, junior Scott Proper and eighth grader Alex Kightlinger, joined the team to fill our lost spots this year. They’ve both improved greatly from the first day they joined, and they deserve so much credit for being on our team and helping us make the playoffs.”

The Ven-Craw league competed in ten regular season matches between Nov. 2017 and Jan. 2018. The Panthers ended the regular season with a cumulative season total of ninety-five points, earning a spot in the playoffs by over twenty points.

In the individual standings, sophomore Nick Archacki and senior Michael Costello earned first and second of the eighty bowlers in the Ven-Craw league this year. Archacki won high average honors for the fifth consecutive year with a 212.58 average over eighteen individual games while Costello’s average was 208.00.

Moving forward, the Panthers have the opportunity to claim their place in the finals of the Ven-Craw league playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. “I believe we can do it again (win a title),” senior Michael Costello said. “We just have to have fun and psych out our competition. I believe we can three-peat and be the greatest team the Ven-Craw league will ever see.”

The quarter-finals will be held at Seneca Lanes on Feb. 12 at  6 p.m. The Panthers will face the Meadville Red team.

Nick Archacki: Reflections on a Panther’s experience at Team USA bowling trials

by Nick Archacki, staff writer

On January 1, I boarded an airplane with my dad and aunt and flew to Las Vegas to compete in the USBC Team USA Trials/ U.S. Amateur Championships for the second consecutive year.

The tournament was held at The Orleans Hotel and Casino where 175 bowlers from around the country competed, attempting to qualify for either Junior Team USA or Team USA. Bowlers who are classified as amateurs or youth are eligible to compete for the U.S. Amateur Championship, and the pros, amateurs, and youth are combined in the overall standings to attempt to win a spot on Team USA and compete at the World Cup. I was bowling for the U.S. Amateur Championship and a spot on Junior Team USA because I am currently sixteen years old and will not meet the age requirement needed for Team USA until I turn 21.

How can bowlers qualify for Junior Team USA? First off, they must finish the event in one of the top four positions in the youth standings, and if they do, they will automatically earn a spot on Junior Team USA. Secondly, the National Selection Committee for the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) will select two more youth bowlers based on their performances at the Team Trials for Junior Team USA. Youth bowlers can also earn additional spots on the junior team based on their performances at the Junior Gold Championships in the U20 division. The bowlers in the U20 division will join the team if they qualify in the top five positions in qualifying along with the highest match play finalist if they meet the age requirements.

Beginning on the first day of the tournament on Jan. 3, I came into the tournament with an open mind not sure what to expect, but I was ready for the challenges. On day one, I bowled on Los Angeles, a 38′ (foot) oil pattern on a sixty-foot lane from the foul line to the front of the pin deck, going -50 for the day, which is fifty pins under a 200 average for the day being an even score, with games of 191, 178, 191, 179, 190, and 221.

On day two, I bowled on London, a 44′ oil pattern, where I shot scores of 172, 182, 165, 204, 247, and 161 to go -69 for the day, my worst day in the event. On day three I bowled on Athens, a 40′ oil pattern, where I shot games of 183, 159, 223, 222, 212, and 177 to go -24 for the day. On day four I bowled on Melbourne, a 37′ oil pattern, and made a big comeback as I shot games of 192, 192, 227, 137, 211, and 243 to go +3 for the day. On day five, the final day of the tournament, I bowled on Rome, a 41′ oil pattern, where I shot games of 220, 196, 170, 206, 199, and 167 to finish out the day -42 as well as the thirty game marathon with a strike.

As I think back on the experience, I feel like this tournament was by far the hardest I’d ever competed in, and that says a lot for the kind of competitive bowler that I am. I’m both proud of and a bit discouraged by my performance because I ended up doing better this year than last year in the event, and I was able to hold my own on very tough oil patterns against some of the best from PBA pros to the best youth bowlers in the country.

My mom, Ann Archacki, said, “I am very proud of Nick. He was out there with amazing bowlers from all over the country. He has learned many things about himself and what needs to be done to improve his game, mentally and physically.” She added: “I hope this leads Nick to choose a college which will help him achieve his goal of being a successful pro bowler.”

Thank you Mom! Once again, it was a great experience and it sparked a fire inside me which has allowed me to have a successful year thus far. I want to thank the community, the Meadville Tribune, my family, friends and fellow Panthers for all of your support and kind words. I greatly appreciate it!

(Contributed photos: In the photo above, Archacki stands next to professional bowler Kyle Troup who ended up winning the Team USA Trials. In the photo below, Archacki bowls his final frame of the event on Jan. 7, with a nine, spare and a strike.)

Nick Archacki

 

Mulligan makes history at Tool City Tournament

by Braeden Kantz and Laura Monico, sports editor and social media editor

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Cody Mulligan captured his fourth straight  Tool City title on Jan. 6.

PIAA state champion wrestler Cody Mulligan became only the seventh wrestler to claim the gold medal four times at the Tool City Tournament.  On Jan. 6,  some of the state’s best wrestlers met in the 39th annual tournament finals where two of Saegertown’s best found themselves on the podium. Junior Kenny Kiser placed second,  and senior Cody Mulligan captured his fourth straight title. After beating rival Julian Gorring from Fort LeBoeuf 8-1 in the finals, Mulligan joins a small group of elite wrestlers who have accomplished such a feat.  

Going into this year’s tournament, Mulligan had beaten all of his opponents in the finals by one point. Mulligan said “Before the match, all I could think about was that I had only won by a point in the finals the last three years, so this year I was looking to dominate whoever I wrestled.” Mulligan is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation with a season record of 24-3. He has the chance to become Crawford County’s first ever two time PIAA State Champion.

The head coach of the Saegertown wrestling team, Jim Mulligan said, “Looking forward our goal is to keep wrestling well throughout the season and ultimately to be selected for the Dapper Dan tournament.” Even after such a feat, Mulligan is still working towards achieving his national level goals. He hopes to win his second state title and be nominated for the Dapper Dan team where the best athletes in the country are selected to compete on a team against Pennsylvania’s best wrestlers. In the wrestling community, being selected for this team is a huge feat.

Mulligan has already accomplished many of his personal goals this season, but he plans to achieve greater things. Mulligan’s Tool City win has credited him as one of Crawford County’s best wrestlers, but he is striving to become one of the nation’s best this year.  

Lady Panthers looking to make playoffs

by Braeden Kantz, sports editor

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Junior Carlie Schlosser defending against the Lady Blue Devils on Dec. 13.

Returning from an unfavorable 2016-17 season, the Lady Panthers are back and have set their sights on a playoff championship.

After losing no team members to graduation, the Saegertown girls basketball team looks stronger than ever.

Last year the team was able to clinch a playoff berth with a 12-12 record, but they were unable to top West Middlesex in the playoff quarterfinals on Feb. 25.

The five starters this year include sophomores Katelyn Young and Kaylee Mulligan, juniors Carlie Schlosser and Courtney Hess, and seniors Haley Hess and Marissa Henry. Schlosser, the team’s point guard said, “We all played together last year and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so I think we’ll work better as a team.”

The Lady Panthers’ record is 4-2 as they defeated the Youngsville Eagles last Thursday with a score of 68-30.

The ladies will be back in action tonight at home against Eisenhower. If you can’t be at the game, be sure to follow live updates on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.

Greco takes the helm of junior high basketball team

by Autumn Jones, marketing director

The junior high boys basketball kicked off the season, beginning with the Conneaut Valley game on Dec. 11 where the seventh grade team won 36-22 and the eighth grade team won 36-23. The eighth grade team’s current record is 3-3 after losses to Titusville, Rocky Grove, and Cambridge Springs, while the seventh grade team’s record is 6-0.

Coach Chris Greco is in his first season coaching junior high boys’ basketball at Saegertown. With experience coaching junior high girls’ basketball at Maplewood and Saegertown elementary basketball, he’s excited for the new opportunities.

“I think we will be competitive. I don’t know much about the other teams we are playing as a first year coach, but I tell the team to always focus on the things they control, like playing good defense, running in offense, and playing hard,” Coach Greco said.  “I think the team needs to gain confidence and play better team defense and if those things happen it’ll be a good team. Having coached these players since they were in third or fourth grade I know their strengths and what they need to improve on and I am starting to see that they are gaining a better understanding of the game of basketball.”

Key players this year include Isaac Johnson, Jaden Wilkins, Dylan Flinchbaugh, Zach Balog, Brady Greco, and Henry Shaffer. “This season is going well. I look forward to all of the bus rides to our games. Especially to the far away ones. My advice for the team before each game is to try as hard as possible,” Zach Balog said.

Brady Greco said, “I think this season is going pretty well. I look forward to getting better as a player. I think the team should always go out and try their best each game.”

Boys basketball team tops two sets of Eagles

by Bailey Kozalla, editor-in-chief

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Coach Greg Molnar rallies players during Dec. 15 game against Visionquest Eagles. 

The varsity Panthers basketball team waited for their chance and pounced. Despite three heartbreaking losses in the first week of the season, the boys took home their first win following their first home game Dec. 15 against the Visionquest Eagles.

Reflecting on the results thus far, senior captain Stevie Siple said, “If we can bond more as a team we could limit the mistakes and hopefully we can put together a few wins throughout the season.” Senior captain Owen Chess concurred. “I think we are all talented individually, but we aren’t playing as well as a team right now, but when we start playing as a team, we will definitely get some wins this season.”

After the two losses against Karns City and AC Valley at the Hoops for Heroes Tournament, as well as the heartbreaking defeat at Jamestown, Coach Greg Molnar diagnosed the faults of the team. “If we could learn how to stop making mistakes and beating ourselves, we could win this year. Karns City and AC Valley didn’t beat us, we beat us.”

Their win against Visionquest certainly boosted the morale of the team. Compared to their 58-46 win last year, the Panthers topped the Eagles again 50-32 this year, updating their record to 1-3. Halfway through the first quarter, freshman Max Fuller drained two three-pointers, contributing to their 11-4 lead at the end of the first. Junior Ryan Sherry, along with junior Eli Draa and Chess dominated their offensive game, leading 35-20 concluding the third quarter. With 3:48 on the clock, the score was 43-23 following some impressive drives from sophomore Tariq Barnes. Towards the end of the fourth quarter, junior Brady Merkel sunk a deep three, lighting up the Panther bench. With five seconds left in the game, senior Jarrett DeJohn drained his first varsity points in his high school basketball career; and it was a heavily defended nineteen footer. The gym exploded with cheer, commending DeJohn.

The boys were able to secure another win at Youngsville on Dec. 20 with the JV and varsity teams winning both games 37-34 and 46-42 respectively. The boys played a tough game on Dec. 22 at Iroquois, coming up short with a score of 72-37. The JV team lost a heartbreaker in overtime 34-31.

The team also traveled to a holiday tournament at Northwestern High School. They lost to Northwestern 72-28 and General McLane 76-28. Following the results of these games, the JV record is 1-2 and the varsity is currently 2-6.

The Panthers will be back in action again at home this Friday against the Cambridge Springs Blue Devils. Stay tuned for live updates on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.