The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 18, 2013

Setting her sights high: Portage senior’s shooting establishes school record

Frank Sojak
fsojak@tribdem.com

PORTAGE — Portage Area Junior-Senior High School student Candice Ramus says her entire school is aiming for success.

“We seem to do well in all sports, and we do well academically as well,” said the 17-year-old senior, who is a member of two athletic teams at the school.

Candice is doing her part to bolster the image of the school by participating on both the defending state champion rifle team and the girls basketball team.

The rifle team defeated 10 other teams in the spring for the title, she said.

“It was exciting,” said Candice, who was ranked fourth individually during the championship. “I was not expecting us to go that far.

“We have good coaching and all the members of the team are dedicated.”

The team, whose season runs from Dec. 18 to Feb. 7, is undefeated.

There is plenty of depth on this year’s team, Candice said.

“Another reason that our rifle team is so good is because if someone is having a bad shooting night, someone else is there to make up for the lost points.”

The team consists of 24 boys and girls from grades 9 through 12. The team practices and holds matches at the Portage Revolver and Pistol Club.

The team shoots .22-caliber rifles with open sights.

Candice started shooting when her friends got her interested in the sport five years ago. She competed with her friends as a member of the junior rifle league at the Portage Revolver and Pistol Club.

When Candice was in eighth grade, the Portage school district started its rifle team. She was permitted to join the team when she became a freshman.

“It’s a good experience,” she said about the rifle team. “It’s fun to be in. You make friends. It’s like a big family.

“It’s fun to shoot. It’s really competitive. With the success that we have been having, it’s really worth it.”

Candice has won numerous medals for her shooting skills, including the Distinguished Expert medal. She also holds the school record of 286 points out of a possible 300.

Ned Moore, head rifle coach, said Candice is an excellent shot and is one of the team’s anchor shooters.

“She’s extremely dependable and has tremendous drive,” he said.

“We were state champions last year. She was our top gun in that effort.”

Moore said he has a great team again this year.

“The team is scoring beautifully,” he said. “They work together beautifully. Our scoring depth is one of our strengths. We have some very high scorers.

“If one of our shooters is having a rough night, one of the others has his or her back.”

The other rifle team coaches are Bob Lutz, Jack Irwin, Lisa Style,  Chuck Onder, and Paul Lutz and his wife, Annette.

Since she was in seventh grade, Candice also has been playing basketball for the Lady Mustangs.

She played on the junior varsity team for two years before joining the varsity squad.

This is her first year as a starter.

“We are doing really well,” said the 5-foot-3-inch guard. “I’m one of four captains on the team.”

The team has good players and good coaches, she said.

“We’re a small team, but we have enthusiasm, speed and a good defense.

“Offensively, we work hard. We have depth on our team.

“Figuratively, we have two sets of starters on the team because no matter who is in, they will play just as well.

Candice said her parents, William and Francine Ramus, are supportive of her efforts with the rifle and basketball teams.

Lance Hudak, head coach of the girls varsity basketball team, said Candice is a role model for every student athlete at Portage.

“Through hard work, structure and commitment, she has balanced the rigors of academics, two varsity sports and excelled at each.

“Candice exhibits a maturity and discipline beyond her years and will undoubtedly realize great success in college and beyond.

“She has been a pleasure to coach and is the perfect example of what a captain and team player means to our Lady Mustangs basketball program.”

“Our girls varsity basketball team is off to one of the best starts in school history. We have a hard-working, talented, unselfish group of student athletes who accept individual roles and embrace the team concept,” Hudak said.

Ralph Cecere, junior-senior high school principal, said Candice is an outstanding young lady.

“She’s a leader,” he said. “She has a 3.95 grade-point average and is third in her class.”

Cecere said Portage Area is a great school.

“We’re a hidden gem,” he said. “We have students who excel academically, athletically and in the arts, and Candice is one of those students.”

Schools Superintendent Richard Bernazzoli said Candice is a model student with many interests.

“She is a contributor to our school in so many ways,” he said.

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