Pheasant permit created

by Bailey Kozalla, sports editor

In order to hunt pheasants in Pennsylvania in the fall, adult hunters will need to purchase a permit to hunt the birds along with their yearly license. In an attempt to increase revenue, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has created the $25 permit, and reduce the $4.7 million cost by $1.5 million to stock the pheasants every year.

Along with the admission of the permit, two of the four pheasant farms have closed, including the Western Game Farm in Cambridge Springs. Eight PGC employees lost their jobs at this farm, reducing $1.7 million from the annual budget.

According to the PGC website, the primary goal of raising and stocking pheasants is to “provide a quality game bird for regulated hunting opportunities.” However, some areas of the program had to be cut. Since 1998, the licenses haven’t been increased to cope with inflation, which led the PGC to cut down on some programs. The pheasant program happened to be one of them. This was the only way to keep the program in place. Pheasant populations peaked in 1971, when more than 700,000 hunters harvested an estimated 1.3 million birds. Last year, about 240,000 pheasants were harvested. The reason so many pheasants were harvested in the seventies lies within the discontinued Soil Bank, and Feed Grain Program. These federal programs idled areas of cropland from production that are vital to nesting pheasants. Approximately 716,000 acres of farmland was lost to urban development in the end of the twentieth century.

The state relies on an artificial pheasant population to be created, as the original thriving population in the 1960s and 1970s diminished. In the past, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was created to sustain pheasant populations on private farmland. Approximately one percent of farm fields in Pennsylvania are CRP managed. An updated federal version, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), was created to improve farmland species in joint with Pheasants Forever, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, county conservation districts, and Duck Unlimited. However, the current trends in pheasant habitat will make it very difficult in the coming years to restore thriving pheasants. Restoring these game birds will not only keep the sport alive, but it will also improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and assist other native species, thus securing the future of farmland species in Pennsylvania.


Saegertown team brings home bronze in state shoot

by Kaity Gage, special media projects editor 

Thirteen students from Saegertown High School traveled to Clairton on June 4 for the 2017 Pennsylvania State High School Clay Target League State Tournament.

Two of Saegertown’s students were incredibly successful and brought home medals to display.

Junior Dustin Hunter won a third place medal in the junior varsity division for his score of 86/100. “It was the best I’ve ever shot, and I was happy to take third place overall for my first year,” Hunter said.

Sophomore Sarah Swartout earned medals for being the third best female shooter at the tournament and second for having the best score overall from this season for females.

The students have been shooting every Sunday since April, with their scores submitted online to compete against other schools in Pennsylvania.

Overall, Saegertown High School came in third place as a team behind Corry High School and Portage Area High School.



Things get choppy (at taekwondo tournament)

by Hillary Twiford, staff writer

Two Saegertown High School sophomores recently participated in the Champion of the Sword taekwondo tournament at Northwestern High School on May 20. Mykenzie Connally and Renee Allen competed in multiple categories to earn four swords each.

There were four divisions: sparring, self-defense, kadas, and weapon kadas. Connally earned first place in sparring and third in the other three divisions, and Allen earned third in sparring and second in both self-defense, kadas, and weapon kadas.

“I had to go first for the very first event, which was self defense,” Connally said. “I was too nervous. I was shaking the whole time, so I think it ruined my form.”

For Allen, the most nerve-racking part was the judges. “I don’t like talking to people I don’t know, so I didn’t like talking to the judges.” However, she still enjoyed the tournament. “I had a lot of fun, and I didn’t hurt myself!”

Connally’s favorite part of the tournament was receiving her swords at the end, but she did share enthusiasm for Allen’s favorite portion. “We weren’t a part of this thing called music kadas, but I enjoyed watching it because they were so into their routines and so energetic,” Allen said.

After competing in the tournament, both contestants strive for enhancement in martial arts. “I would improve my stance. One of the judges told me I was leaning forward, so I would fix that,” Connally said. Allen looks for overall improvement. “I want to practice more because now I know what the judges are looking for,” Allen said. Connally and Allen look forward to participating in more tournaments in the future.


Hernandez’s heavy lifting qualifies him for Youth Nationals

By Kaity Gage, Special Media Projects Editor

Seventh grader, Anthony Hernandez, will be heading to Atlanta, Georgia from June 22 to June 25 to compete at the 2017 Youth National Championships. Hernandez will be competing in weightlifting in the snatch and the clean and jerk. He trains for the sport in Meadville at the Relentless Barbell Club, the only Olympic style weightlifting club in Crawford County.

The snatch is when the lifter takes his barbell and lifts it directly from the floor to above their head. When Hernandez is executing this motion in practice, he uses 46 pound weights. During the clean and jerk, Hernandez takes the barbell off the floor, brings it to his shoulders, and rests the weights on his deltoids, without letting it fully rest on his clavicles.

He spends an average of two hours lifting, three times a week at his gym. He enjoys the physical activity along with seeing his progression over time.

Hernandez’s inspiration to lift and to continue growing stronger comes from his father. “He’s done everything for me and helped me get where I am,” Hernandez said.  

Blair Erdeljac, one of Hernandez’s coaches, said, Anthony is one of the smallest kids in school, but through weightlifting, he has built confidence and become a more outgoing kid.  He has also demonstrated a high level of maturity: taking his training seriously and becoming a dedicated athlete with great work ethic.”

Saegertown gymnast qualifies for states

by Scout Van Cise, opinion editor and Braeden Kantz, staff writer

While baseball, softball, and volleyball are in season this time of year, many people overlook sports that are not affiliated with SHS. Gymnastics is one of those sports, and the state finals took place last month. Junior Hannah Smith was named runner up as a state finalist in Erie, Pa. as a member of the Greenville Gymnastics Academy and Cheer team.

Smith qualified for states with a score of 34 out of 40 and improved her final score to 37.775, earning second place overall. To prepare for this event, Smith spent approximately 20 hours and four days a week at the gym in Greenville. “I was ready to stop doing routines and work on other skills,” Smith said. But her efforts paid off, resulting in second on her floor and bars routines, third on vault, and fourth on beam. Smith has qualified for states eight years in a row, and she plans on attending next year to take home the gold.

What is Young Guns Wrestling?

By Cutter’b Pritchard, sports editor

Young Guns Wrestling is a club organization for the offseason allowing athletes to fine tune their skills and gain individual recognition. It’s a Pennsylvania exclusive club with grapplers from schools all over the state. With such a widespread range of talent and kids having to wrestle off for spots, only the best in the state are on the team. Junior Cody Mulligan, who won a state medal for the weight class of 182, said of his experience with the team: “I have learned a lot. The coaches are the best in the country.”

According to the organization’s website, “The coaching staff has decorated resumes along with training some of the greatest names in wrestling history. They look forward to passing that knowledge to willing wrestlers who are seeking more from their lives… like the opportunity to be GREAT!”

With the participation of a club sport, there is less stress than the regular season, but with such an elite group, the wrestlers work on skills only the top college teams work on.

“Young Guns practices are designed with the purpose of improving wrestling skills. Proper and precise technique is taught to eliminate bad habits. In addition, coaches work to teach relentless attack and response to key situations in wrestling,”their site said.

With this high demand of only the greatest, there comes a desire from the athletes. Their website says, “This desire becomes contagious among kids dedicated to achieving success at a higher level.”

When asked how this dedication would translate closer to home, Mulligan said, “I have learned so much from the experience, and it has really helped me bring what I have learned to Saegertown.”

Mulligan will travel to Virginia Beach on Friday to compete all Memorial Day Weekend at The Virginia Beach Convention Center. The club will be going toe-to-toe against ten of the top clubs in the country, facing off for the title. Young Guns achieved second place at the event last year.

Spring season holds high expectations

By Grant Phelan, staff writer

The spring season brings a roll of thunder with the warming temperatures, but thunder isn’t the only sound filling the Pennsylvanian forests this spring. On any given morning, one can probably travel to a nearby ridgetop or field and hear the booming gobble of a lovestruck wild turkey.

Gobblers will be seeking to breed hens. It’s an annual ritual starting in February and lasting until late May. Last Saturday, hunters were able to start sneaking into the predawn woods in hopes of filling their tags. “Since there wasn’t a high harvest rate last year, birds will be smarter. So you won’t be able to call them in. That or the birds that have never been called will be easier to call in. It’s seems like if they haven’t been messed with, you shouldn’t have too much trouble,” sophomore Seth Lang said.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), allows hunters to harvest one turkey per day and two per season if they have purchased a separate bonus tag. This tag costs $21.70 as of 2016. Although the season for adults began Saturday, it runs until May 31. From the opener to May 13, hunters may only be in the woods until noon. However, since 2011, hunters have been allowed to hunt in the afternoon during the latter half of the season. That latter half is from the May 14 until the last day this year.

It has been a week since the Youth Turkey Hunt Day on April 23. That was when Junior and Mentor Hunters ages sixteen and younger could try their luck at bagging a bird. When the regular season starts, youth who haven’t found a bird can still participate, but adults are added to the equation. Sophomore Devin Steiger was fortunate enough to bag a four inch bearded bird on the Youth Hunt.

With almost a month of hunting, Saegertown students will have plenty of opportunities, and lost sleep trying to harvest a big gobbler. “Get in early before the crowds and before sunrise,” Lang said. “If you can get in your spot and know where they are, start calling, and they will come right in.”
Email your successful hunts to grphelan@psdmailorg or tweet  them @PantherPressSHS.

Saegertown students take on taekwondo

By Hillary Twiford, staff writer

After school, many students participate in activities that no one knows about. For example, sophomores Renee Allen and Mykenzie Connally have been taking taekwondo lessons since October. They attend classes at Humes Martial Arts in Waterford two to three times a week to receive instruction from David Humes.

Their lessons focus on four different areas: sparring, self-defense, traditional movement patterns known as katas, and kata with weapons like bo staff and nunchucks.  However, classes in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and karadio, a mixture of karate and high intensity cardio combinations, are also available.

Allen’s favorite part of class is sparring, a match where you fight an opponent having little to no contact, whereas Connally prefers self-defense and katas because she feels like she has more control.

“I’ve been wanting to do taekwondo for awhile. I wanted to do something with fighting,” said Connally. “It seemed really cool, so Renee and I signed up to do it last minute.”

         Allen cites the reason for getting into taekwondo is because of her mother. “My mom was nagging me to do a self defense class so I said ‘hey why not?’”       

        They are currently yellow belts, but plan on surpassing orange belts and earning their blue belts in May before competing in the Champion of the Sword tournament on May 20 at Northwestern. “I’m excited for it, and we’re training really hard,” Connally said.


Anglers anticipate trout opener

By Grant Phelan, staff writer

Within a week, local streams will face an army of men and women clad in boots, waders, and fishing rods. Welcome to the Pennsylvania trout opener April 16, 2017. As with every other season, fishermen can wet their lines starting at 8 a.m. sharp. “Yeah, I’m pretty excited. I heard they stocked more trout this year in Woodcock Creek,” sophomore Brode Berger said.

The PA Fish and Boat Commission stocks roughly 3.15 million trout each year in approved waterways. In 2017, that number was bumped to 4.2 million. All of these fish are up for grabs (or hooks) for the droves of people who will line the banks in hopes of filling their stringers.

The Commission fills Pennsylvania’s waters with brown, rainbow, brook, and golden rainbow trout. The golden rainbows, or palomino, are less common than their counterparts, and are a novelty that many fishermen seek to catch on the first day. These fish are spawned from a mutation that occurred in a rainbow trout in the Appalachians in 1954. Most of the time, they are the largest fish stocked in the stream, adding even more allure to their reputation of being the bright yellow and the hardest to catch. Berger, who plans to once again hit the stream, was fortunate to catch one last year. “I caught it in Woodcock Creek, down by Stainbrook Park. It was fun, especially since it was my first ever.” The 19 inch palomino was caught on a Trout Magnet.

One of the major discussions included for this season is the fact that Easter is the day after the first day, which means that many people may not participate the first day due to holiday plans. But many will stay close to home and still wet their lines. “Most likely I will fish at Woodcock Creek. I like to be the first one to the hole and in my opinion the bite slows down later in the day. So I will probably only fish till about 12-1 p.m. Still will have all day Sunday to celebrate the holiday,” sophomore Wes Price said.

Historically, many will cast spinners, worms, crickets, and the classic silver spoon to be successful. “I like to use either a red eye ant with a grub or a trout magnet spinner,” Price said. Although the masses that make the trek each year are excited, not everyone will come home with filled stringers and empty bait cans. It is all part of the experience that has almost 600,000 anglers lining Pennsylvania’s streams every year.