Penn-Trafford rifle team prepared to be contender
By: Nathan Smith
Friday, January 11, 2019 | 8:24 PM
The Penn-Trafford rifle team is ready to take another step forward.
Last season, the Warriors were on the verge of qualifying for the WPIAL team championships in only their fourth season of competition. Penn-Trafford came up a bit short in its trek for the seventh spot, falling to Trinity and West Green in a three-team wild-card match.
Coach Diana Long said her team has picked up where it left off.
“We are doing better than what we have done in past years,” Long said. “The kids are performing well. We are just focused on getting them to perform where they need to be on the same day.”
Penn-Trafford already has a statement win this season. The Warriors topped West Greene, 795-793, on Dec. 19 in a nonsection showdown. It was Penn-Trafford’s first win over the Pioneers.
The Warriors also showed their ability to compete with some of the best in the WPIAL. Penn-Trafford dropped a 796-795 decision to Woodland Hills on Dec. 20. Woodland Hills is a rifle powerhouse with six WPIAL titles.
“Shooting an 800 is nothing to them,” Long said. “To shoot a 795 on their home field and only lose by a point, if anything I consider that a win. They are one of the, if not the, best WPIAL teams every year. It was a confidence booster to be so close.”
Morgan Nedley has been a leader this season. The senior finished in 55th out of 81 shooters at the WPIAL individual championships last season. Brooke Sargent and Declan Mooney return after strong freshman seasons.
“Samantha Snowden has been really good,” Long said. “Her individual scores are up dramatically from last year. She is one of the top-10 contenders in each match.”
Joining the team this season is Jason Pernick.
“He started to shoot over the summer with us through the Murrysville Junior Rifle program,” Long said. “He decided he wanted to join the Penn-Trafford team when the season came along. He is doing really well. He has shown a big initiative.
“If he is unhappy with a score, he wants to shoot in practice to correct his mistakes.”
Becka Mills, Dan Newsom, Brie Deyermine, Nick Deyerman and Kaylee Tatters also have been on target.
With a solid lineup and growing confidence, the Warriors are focusing on their next goal. While it missed the team playoffs last season, Penn-Trafford is ready to be one of the final seven teams in the WPIAL.
“Getting into the WPIAL championships would be huge for the team,” Long said. “I hope to claim a wild-card spot and shoot for seventh. I’d even like to skip the wild card and solidify our spot as one of the top two teams in the section.
“We want to take the next step and go a little further than last year. We want to be a contender.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.