Penn-Trafford rifle team continues growing, finding success

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Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 8:01 AM


The Penn-Trafford co-ed rifle team has come a long way in a short time.

The program was started in 2015, and by 2020 the Warriors had developed into one of the WPIAL’s top teams.

They placed third in the WPIAL last winter and qualified for the state competition, where they placed sixth.

The team is looking to continue its success this season.

Diana (Long) Cholock has been coaching the team since its inception. She has been amazed by how the program has taken off from just 12 shooters to now more than 30.

Cholock is a certified National Rifle Association instructor. She teaches the 3- and 4-position competition. In high school, the prone position is used in competition.

Penn-Trafford went 10-0 in the regular season a year ago, and the team is off to 1-1 start this winter. The Warriors defeated Mt. Lebanon, but lost by one bulls-eye to rival Hempfield.

Because of the coronavirus, teams compete virtually and shoot at their home range.

“There is a trust factor among the coaches,” Cholock said. “If a match is close, coaches will meet and look at the targets.”

Teams are made up of 10 shooters per competition with the top eight scores counting toward the team total.

“I have a very consistent group of shooters,” Cholock said. “I have several shooters that I can count on scoring 100 every time they compete. Many have stepped up this season.”

Penn-Trafford’s top shooters include seniors Declan Mooney (captain), Kyle Dynys, Brooke Sargent, Jonathan French and Daniel Newsome; sophomores Mallory McRae and Seth Baughman and junior Jason Pernick.

Cholock considers Mooney a cool customer who doesn’t let things bother him. Dynys is a shooter who came on during his junior season, and Sargent is someone who regularly competes in three-position (prone, standing and kneeling) competitions.

Cholock added that French is a determined shooter who puts a lot of pressure on himself, McRae was someone who picked up things quickly, Pernick is confident in his abilities, Baughman is consistent and Newsome is a shooter who had things click this season.

Pernick has served as a co-captain for two seasons.

There are five shooters who alternate in and out of the lineup — seniors Connor Watson and Ben DiMatteo, juniors Kyle Kelly and Becca Mills and sophomore Olivia Bankosh.

“A lot of the kids are hunters or just into the sport,” Cholock said. “Others came out and love the sport. It’s a good group.”

Cholock is a 2000 graduate of Norwin. She didn’t compete in the sport at the high school level because Norwin didn’t sponsor the sport.

She started shooting because of her father Dale Emerick and brother Dewayne. Both are avid hunters and shooters. She became a hunter and competitor herself. Her dad is her assistant coach.

She trains the team at the Murrysville Gun Club.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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