Penny Weichel has changed the name of her website to www.route8rivalry.com It will be changed in the story below as well. Weichel continues to update and add to this wonderful history of Venango sports. And follow her on Twitter @FootballVenango for what's going on everyday.
It's possible that is why she is still elbow deep into Venango high school sports in 2021, more than eight years after she retired from The Derrick and News-Herald.
"January 23, 2013."
She, like every great statistician, remembers the exact day.
This attention to detail is why she is still combing old articles to find stats that may have been missing in old reports. One of her missions is to see if Red Law actually was the best we've ever had. Law held many records for decades, but Weichel thinks his numbers might be better than what the school records indicate, especially since records weren't kept as well back in the day. She searches archive after archive to see if yardage or points are missing from the record book totals.
What drives her attention for details after all these years? Why would a retired sports editor in her 70s care?
Because she does.
She began a website to basically have a place for everything Venango County football has to offer.
route8rivalry.com has some feature stories and just about every statistic you can think is important. Maybe even ones you don't think are important. It's loaded with information.
"I do it because I want to, because I like to do it," she said. "It's not unusual for me to get up at 2 a.m. to update the website." She is also quite active on Twitter and follows many of the local squads, tweeting and retweeting results.
Her website now serves as a place for information and research. "It's the best kept secret in Venango County," she laughed. Not a ton of daily traffic, but she had thousands of clicks over the years.
She wants the site to be a valuable archive.
And it is.
Need to know if a 98-yard run is a county record? You can look on the website and see Noah Petro holds record that from just a few years back as well as who else had long runs. You can also check on rivalries and who has the most career yards.
Guys like Red Law, who in the early 60s was a site to behold with a pigskin, are benefitting historically from her dedication. Weichel said she has been looking through newspaper archives because his freshman through junior years are unrecorded in his official record. But since he is only about a thousand yards off the all-time leader, she thinks Law could be the top.
She won't rest until she finds those unaccounted yards.
Weichel spent her youngest years leaving near the Phillies, and has remained a devout fan ever since. "When they had their 23 game losing streak, I listened to every inning."
She came to Franklin when her dad became a school administrator. She graduated from Franklin High School and ventured on to Robert Morris and Penn State universities.
After college, she took job at The Derrick in Oil City and soon after became one of the first female sports editors ever. In 1971, "female sports editor" wasn't exactly in the dictionary. In 2021, it's still not commonplace.
But to her, it wasn't about being a woman in the sports world, it was just about the sports. She didn't carry the mantle for female athletics, she was a journalist reporting. It was up to female athletics to rise or not, and when they did, she took note.
The Cranberry girls basketball team in the 90s caught her attention. A game against Corry stands out among the accomplishments of that team. "I swear, they played a perfect game that night," she said. She recalled contemplating her story for the next day's paper, and feeling the weight of her job. "How can I explain [what I just witnessed] to our readers? You had to see it."
But she did, she wrote about that game and entered it into the annals of history. And she documented thousands of other match-ups too.
In recent years, she has been particularly impressed watching the Oil City football team. "I wish I could've gone to the games last year," she said noting this run has been pretty impressive and special. Though she prefers being in the stands, she is thankful for the live feeds on the internet during COVID-19.
in 2020, when sports were basically cancelled and her former employer was trying to figure out how to fill sports pages without sports going on, she stepped up and wrote several history pieces to help fill the void.
Those trips down memory lane are exactly why her website is such an incredible resource and a gem for local high school sports.
Visit her website at https://www.route8rivalry.com and see where your kid, or dad, or grandpa fits into the Venango County record books. And if you can't find someone you think should be there and have proof, give her a tweet. Especially if you have Red Law's missing years.