The value of a coach: Greg Molnar

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By William Hetrick

Coaches have banquets.  It has become a time-honored tradition with nearly all sports at all schools.

Athletes get awards, gifts, and accolades.  I suppose it’s a nice way to wrap up the season.

The coach gets a gift and thanks from the booster club, the season ends, and life goes on.  But not always.

Greg Molnar retired as boys basketball coach at Saegertown High School at the close of this past season, a season that saw him register his 100th win, one of only four coaches in our school’s history to achieve that feat.  Longevity.

He spent a decade and some change coaching our boys.  He’s coached pretty much consistently since his first gig in 1984.

It’s not easy sticking with something so long, especially in today’s environment where your credibility is measured in the win-loss column, and you have twenty or more “assistant coaches” in the stands at every game.

Coach Molnar stuck it out–through losing seasons, some good ones despite his record, and through winning seasons, ones he felt could have been better, I’m sure.  It’s the way of the true coach.

You can always do better, get better.  Usually, you remember the close losses more than the dominant wins.  The kids more than the outcome.  And that is why I’m telling you about Greg Molnar.

Sure, he teaches next door to me in the English department at school.  Yes, we’ve had discussions about coaching as we’ve been doing it, though in different sports, for a long time.

We both see the value in sport as a way to see to the core of what kids are capable of doing.  We both see how character is built one drill at a time.

Coaches come and go.  It’s the way of it, the way it’s supposed to be, in fact.  When you leave, the slow ebb of time washes away your achievements, your records, even your legacy.

The full body of your day in the sun becomes a shadow fading into the distance.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t say some things of value about our coach.

I saw him take a technical foul at Iroquois so a unique athlete on their team could make a basket.

It was one of the most selfless and thoughtful acts I’ve seen in my years of coaching.

I’ve seen him play athletes who should have never seen the court because they earned the right in practice.

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Coach Molnar received the game ball from his 100th win at the banquet. 

I’ve seen him allow players to miss practices to attend other activities, like go hunting with a grandfather or attend a school trip; many coaches I know think the world revolves around their practice schedule.

How dare you do anything other than my sport during our season!  Not Coach.  He is a small town coach in charge of small-town athletes.  And he sees the value in each small-town kid.

At his final banquet, Coach complimented his athletes, apologized to many, told his final story. I was there.  It was awesome.  He will go the way of all great coaches.

But I will remember.  His former players will remember.  They are better for having had him teach them basketball.

And life. And that is the real measure of a coach.  Greg, it was a great banquet.  And career.  You deserve to be remembered.

(William Hetrick  coaches cross country at Saegertown High School. He also teaches next door to Greg Molnar. Both are veteran English teachers and coaches.)

SHS Track Club is up and running

By Mason McClure, staff writer

SHS Track Club is just that–a club.  There are no varsity letters to earn or Region titles to win.  Runners participate in track just to see if they can meet the qualifying standard for the District 10 Championship held at Slippery Rock University on Saturday, May 8.

The runners, including seniors Gabe DeYoung and Ben Crowl, as well as several other returners like junior Maddie Mondi, are hard at practice to get ready.  They are able to run at MASH’s home meets and various invitationals in the region, such as at Franklin, Fairview, and Hermitage.

Coach Bill Hetrick said, “We are really just a great group of kids who run various distances from the 100-meter dash to the 3200-meter run, to see if they can make Districts.”  Senior captain Gabe DeYoung said, “I want everyone to work towards their goals and work hard during practice.”

Lady Panthers looking for redemption

By Nick Archacki, news editor

Last spring, the Saegertown softball team was on the prowl to win their first state title after having an unbelievable season on the diamond. Sadly though, the Panthers lost a battle to Mount Union 4-2 in the second playoff game of the PIAA Championships.

Even though the season ended in a grind against Mount Union, the Panthers had a year to remember as they posted a 20-5 record, led the Class AA rankings and won the Region 3 title for their fifth straight year.

Now that the season has officially started for the ladies, they are ready to conquer the field once again with leadership from four returning and very talented senior players: Elizabeth Hasko, Courtney Hess, Carlie Schlosser, and Sarah Swartout. The team also includes four juniors, two sophomores, and eight freshmen.

Hess, one of Saegertown softballs’ best pitchers ever, is confident about the upcoming season and her teammates: “I think we’ll be a good team this year, we just have to keep working at it and reach our goals.” Swartout, who is a dominant force on the infield, is also in good spirits about this year’s campaign. “I think we’ll do good if we work hard because we have a young team. I also believe we will do well if we all work together and complete the plays to win games.”

Both Hess and Swartout have goals for their final softball season: to have a good batting and fielding average and to improve [their] defensive skills. Hess also mentioned that she is going to try her best to continue to be a leader for the younger girls, inspiring them to work hard at the game of softball.

However, the team will have to cope with the loss of a beloved coach this season. Tom Brunot, who coached Saegertown softball for over a decade recently passed away at the age of 62 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Hess and Swartout both experienced Coach Brunot’s love for coaching and his players: “He’ll always be with us no matter where we go and no matter how good or bad we’re playing. He’s our driving force to do well and keep playing, we’re going to dedicate this season to him. He always had a positive attitude, always had your back, and made you feel like a great person.”

The Lady Cats are currently in Kissimmee, Florida for Spring Training and will return April 1. The Panthers’ next game is on April 3 at Rocky Grove and their next home game is on April 4 vs. Northwestern at 4 p.m.

Crowl advances to state finals in swimming

By Amanda Crowl, staff writer

Senior Ben Crowl and freshman Brittany Houck competed as part of the Meadville Bulldogs swim team at the  PIAA D10 championships, which were held at the Spire Institute on March 1-2. By the end of the first day, Crowl knew he was headed to the state finals as part of the 200 yard medley team that finished with a time of 1:40.59.

Crowl stands in 5th place after the 100 yard breaststroke competition.

There are a total of three relays and eight individual races spread across a two-day period. Crowl and Houck each swam in two relays and two individual events with the Meadville Bulldogs swim team.

Crowl qualified for districts in the 200 yard medley relay, 200 yard IM, 200 yard freestyle relay, and the 100 yard breaststroke. He took fifth place in his 200 yard IM (2:20.92), third in the 200 yard freestyle relay (1:39.20), and fifth in the 100 yard breaststroke (1:05.86). In his 100 yard breaststroke, he lost to one of his teammates by one hundredth of a second.

Swimming in two relays and two individual races, Brittany Houck took home three second places and one fourth place. Her times are as follows: 200 yard freestyle relay (1:41.25), 100 yard freestyle (55:15), 400 yard freestyle relay (3:49.87), 100 yard breaststroke (1:10.24).

Crowl and Houck gave their best last Friday and Saturday swimming at districts. Crowl will continue into states, and Houck will train harder to follow in his footsteps next year. “I definitely need to push harder at practice so it will benefit me in the long run,” Houck said.

The state finals will be held at Bucknell University on March 15. “I’m excited about the experience of being a state swimmer,” Crowl said.

Kiser and Kightlinger hunt for hardware at states

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

Saegertown wrestlers are headed to the PIAA AA Individual State Championship in Hershey. Junior Kenny Kiser will make his third consecutive appearance along with junior Alex Kightlinger, who will make his debut at the 2019 State Competition.

Last weekend at the North West Regional tournament, both Kiser and Kightlinger secured their place at states. Kiser claimed his second region title with a 6-2 decision over Rocco Bartolo from Reynolds. Kightlinger placed fourth, securing his first appearance in the state tournament.

The Saegertown Panthers have sent wrestlers to the PIAA State Championship for 11 consecutive years under the leadership of head coach Jimmy Mulligan. Mulligan has mentored ten state medalists, including four state champions.

Kiser, who is currently ranked second in the state by the PA Power Wrestling website, will attempt to capture his first state medal this weekend. After two consecutive losses in the “blood round” (a high stakes round in which you medal if you win, and go home if you lose), Kiser is excited to return to the Giant Center and attempt to bring home some hardware. “I don’t want to repeat what happened last year,” Kiser said. “I have a lot more confidence in my wrestling and my ability to compete at the top levels after this season.”

Kightlinger, who is also ranked by PA Power Wrestling, will make his first appearance as an individual in Hershey this weekend. After coming up short in the 2018 regional tournament, Kightlinger battled back in 2018-2019, boasting a (35-14) season record and placing fourth in the region, qualifying him for the state tournament. “I feel pretty proud that I’m here, and I’m ready to take home some hardware for the first time,” Kightlinger said.

Wrestling will begin tomorrow March 7 at 9 a.m. The tournament will continue on Friday and the finals and other medal rounds will take place on Saturday, March 9.

For live updates, follow us on twitter @PantherPressSHS.

Panthers move on in postseason run

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

The Saegertown Panthers capitalized on another trip to the District 10 tournament last weekend, advancing five wrestlers to the North West Regional tournament which kicks off today at Sharon High School.

In the mix for the Panthers are senior Dawson Bartholomew, junior Kenny Kiser, junior Alex Kightlinger, freshman Landon Caldwell, and breakout athlete of the week, sophomore Jaden Reagle.

Reagle was seeded second in the Section 1 tournament and was able to triumph in the finals over first-seeded senior from Union City, William Burgess 2-1.

This marked Reagle’s first tournament championship in his varsity career and merited his nomination and win as Breakout Athlete of the Week from GoErie.  Reagle went onto qualify for the region tournament by placing sixth at districts. “I’m excited to return to regions,” said Reagle. “I surprised I was nominated for the breakout athlete, but I hope to continue wrestling well this weekend.”

Kiser, who is currently ranked second in the state by papowerwrestling.com, captured his third consecutive Section 1 title beating Joel Huck from Fort LeBoeuf 16-3, earning a major decision. Kiser then took second place at the district tournament falling short in a last-minute effort from Alex Chess of Mercer. Kiser led Chess for the majority of the match, but Chess was able to rally with a last-second near fall to put Chess ahead 7-5. Kiser said “We both wrestled well, but (Chess) was able to beat me in the last few seconds. I’m planning on focusing on every match and look forward to wrestling (Chess) again.”

Veteran wrestlers Dawson Bartholomew and Alex Kightlinger also secured spots in the regional bracket. Kightlinger, who captured his first Section 1 Title this year, claimed his spot with a  third-place finish while Bartholomew placed fifth in the 132-pound bracket to make his first appearance in the District 10 tournament.

Freshman Landon Caldwell will also make his first appearance at regions after placing eighth in districts.

The North West Region tournament begins today, March 1 and 2, at Sharon High School. You can see the brackets and follow the action at pa-wrestling.com.

The top four from the region tournament will advance to the PIAA AA State Tournament which will be help March 7-9 at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Lady hoopers hope to compete in district finals

By Will Phelan, social media editor

Tonight will be the third time the Lady Panthers have faced the Maplewood Tigers. (contributed photo)

The Lady Panther basketball team looks to take down Maplewood in the district semifinal game tonight at Meadville High School.  

This will be their third bout against the Tigers this season as well as a tiebreaker, as they have split the first two games with a win apiece.  

Key player Kaylee Mulligan, junior, who missed playing time due to a knee injury (during which the girls lost to Maplewood) is now ready for tonight’s matchup.  “I missed playing with the team,” Mulligan said. “But now I’m ready to help get the win and play in the D-10 championship.”

A win tonight would place them in the district final game on March 2. Come out and support the Lady Panthers tonight at 7:30 p.m. You can also follow the action on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.

Super Bowl LIII teams set for showdown on Sunday

By Nick Archacki, news editor

On Sunday January 20, one of the most important days of the NFL season occurred for the NFC and AFC divisions as the Los Angeles Rams faced the New Orleans Saints, and the New England Patriots faced the Kansas City Chiefs to determine which two teams would advance to Super Bowl LIII (53).

The first game of the day, a battle between the Saints and Rams, transpired at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints held a comfortable lead at the end of the first quarter 13-0 until the Rams came back in the second quarter to close the gap 13-10 at the end of the first half.

The Saints had firm control of the game at the closing of the fourth quarter until an inexplicable no-call was made by the referees as the pass interference and hitting a defenseless receiver contact play was considered, by many, as the worst no-call in playoff history and one of the worst no-calls in NFL history. The result of this no-call led to the Rams tying the Saints at the end of regulation, 23-23.

The Saints got the ball at the start of overtime and the Rams connected for an interception off Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Rams brought the football within reach of the field goal and the Rams kicker sent L.A. to the Super Bowl with a 57-yard field goal conversion, winning 26-23.

Later that night, the Chiefs and the Patriots faced off in frigid temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots took an early lead 14-0 at the end of halftime. But the Chiefs answered New England’s call by tying the game at the end of regulation, 31-31, with the Chiefs kicker making a 3-point conversion.

The Chiefs scored 31 points after halftime and the Pats maintained by scoring 17 points in their third and fourth quarters, respectively. This was the first time in NFL history where both NFC and AFC championship games resulted in a tie at the end of the fourth quarter.

The Patriots received the ball in overtime and the Chiefs didn’t get the ball again the rest of the game. The Patriots running-back scored the game-winning touchdown with a 2-yard run into the end zone, ending a thriller, 37-31.

Now the excitement builds for the big game this Sunday. The Patriots and Rams will duel at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST. The Patriots will be looking for their record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory (The Pittsburgh Steelers currently hold the record), and the Rams will be looking to capture their second Vince Lombardi trophy.

History is also on the line for this game. If Tom Brady wins, he will be the oldest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 41. If Jared Goff wins, he will be the second youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl at age 24. If Goff starts, he will be the youngest quarterback to start the Super Bowl since Tom Brady in 2002.

The last time the Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl was 2002. Their opponent? The New England Patriots. The Rams lost the game, 20-17. Coincidence? That question will be answered on Sunday.

Saegertown basketball coach credits players with 100 win milestone

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

Coach Greg Molnar celebrated his 100th win on January 12.

Saegertown Basketball Coach Greg Molnar recently claimed his 100th varsity basketball win against the Tidioute Charter on Jan. 12. The 2018-19 season marks Coach Molnar’s eleventh season at Saegertown and his team is currently 8-7. With the win, Coach Molnar takes his place among three other varsity basketball coaches in Saegertown’s history to achieve 100 career wins.

Despite his recent achievement, Mr. Molnar has not enjoyed the spotlight. “It’s like this. I’m not the one who plays. I just pick five people to play, and they are the ones who win the games,” said Coach Molnar. “It’s nice to have people congratulating me but it’s just weird and it makes me uncomfortable.”

The Saegertown community, however, responded enthusiastically. After Saegertown’s win over Tidioute 48-43, Coach Molnar was surprised by players and fans who attended the match with a confetti cannon and a sign recognizing his accomplishment.

Mr. Molnar joins famed Saegertown basketball coaches Merle Darcangelo, Chuck Swick, and Dean Henderson as a part of the “100 win club.” Coach Molnar currently has 103 wins and has the chance to potentially challenge the current coaching win record of 109 wins held by Merle Darcangelo (109-42) and Dean Henderson (109-104).

Coach Molnar attributes his recent milestone at Saegertown to “the great athletes” that he has coached during his tenure, and is optimistic about his coaching future. “I’m just enjoying this as much as I can,” said Molnar. “I know that my time is very limited here. It’s going to come to an end, and I’m ready to move on to the next phase in my life.”

For more information on the history of Saegertown basketball, click here. The Saegertown varsity boys basketball team will make its next appearance tonight at 7 p.m. at Union City.

Saegertown bowlers back in championship contention as members of Cambridge team

By Nick Archacki and Will Phelan, news editor and social media editor

The Cambridge Springs bowling team, which includes bowlers from all three PENNCREST high schools, has dominated the season in the Ven-Craw (Venango and Crawford counties) high school bowling league as the Blue Devils primary team is among the top forces on the Ven-Craw leaderboard for the fourth straight year.

For the past three seasons, Cambridge has fought to secure a spot in the Ven-Craw championship but was denied by Saegertown in 2016 and Cranberry in both 2017 and 2018. With the addition of two Saegertown bowlers, senior Scott Proper and two-time Ven-Craw league champion, junior Nick Archacki, Cambridge is a top competitor in the league and has a great chance to advance to the championship this season.

The Cambridge Springs Blue team has owned the lumber since the start of the season.  The Blue team currently sits tied for second place, 0.5 points behind the Ven-Craw team leader, Conneaut Lake Blue. The Cambridge Black team holds sixth place. Both teams are currently eligible to make the Ven-Craw playoffs with one match left in the season, as the top eight teams earn a playoff spot.

Regarding the individual standings, Cambridge Springs’ Nick Archacki leads the fifty-eight bowlers of Ven-Craw with an average of 222.33 after 15 games. Following Archacki, his teammate, Maplewood’s Issac Heim, has an average of 206.63 while three bowlers from Conneaut Lake round out the top five with averages between 205 and 199.

The final match for Cambridge Springs and the Ven-Craw league for the regular season is this Sunday at Plaza Lanes in Meadville.