Penn-Trafford senior Carlee Valenta signs with UTEP rifle team

Sunday, January 7, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Penn-Trafford senior Carlee Valenta said she was 12 years old when her grandfather, John Malazich, taught her how to shoot a rifle in his backyard.

“We’d shoot at soda cans,” Valenta said. “Then my uncle Andy (John Andrew Malazich) got me involved in a local shooting club.”

She honed her skills and joined the Penn-Trafford rifle team as a junior and helped them to their first state title.

Last month, Valenta, 17, signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Texas El Paso where she will compete in college.

After starting with her grandfather and uncle, she continued to improve her skills at different clubs. That’s where she developed her talent capable of shooting at the college level.

Valenta also competes for the Jerome Junior Rifle Team and Team Winning Solutions where she must be able to compete in three college positions — prone, standing and kneeling. In high school, a competitor only competes in the prone position.

She recently won the Dave Cramer Award for perfection.

“I wasn’t sure I wanted to shoot in college until my junior year,” Valenta said. “Getting the scholarship will help pay for college. UTEP also has a good language program where I can learn to be bilingual. It’s a great opportunity for me.”

Valenta feels being near the U.S./Mexico border will help her with her future pursuits.

Valenta and her sister, Emily, played key roles in helping Penn-Trafford win a state title last winter. She hopes the team can go back-to-back this season.

“I think we have a shot,” she said. “We’re a close knit group and that was a big reason why we won last year.

“We didn’t know what to expect. I knew we were a solid team. We just performed well at the end. It was exciting to win as a team. We’re like family. It was an amazing feeling.”

Penn-Trafford coach Diana Cholock said the Valenta sisters were perfect fits for the team and made the team stronger.

In addition to their team success last season, Carlee Valenta also held a special accomplishment at the WPIAL level.

Carlee Valenta and teammate Seth Baughman were honored by the WPIAL for recording perfect seasons.

Valenta shot 200-13x at the WPIAL individual championships and just missed out on advancing to states.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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