The Walla Walla High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Blue Devils Precision Rifle Team fired a season-high score to capture the 14-school Cascade Mountain League two-state championship in a drill competition and rifle match hosted on home turf on March 11.
Teams from Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine programs participated.
Nearly 100 competitive high school marksmen from Washington and Oregon JROTC programs competed at the Wa-Hi rifle range during the final regional match of the 2016/2017 season, according to a release from the Walla Walla School District.
Cadets used .177-caliber, match-grade air rifles in sporter and precision levels, and fired on a 10-meter range.
Before a hometown audience, the Blue Devil Precision Squad turned out its best performance so far this season, posting 2,297 out of 2,400 points to clinch the championship over longtime rival North Salem High School.
Leading the team, Cadet Capt. Daniel Enger set a new precision class league record with 594 out of 600. He beat the closest opponent by 6 points and set a league record in the kneeling position of 199 out of 200.
“We have had a lot of matches canceled this season due to the weather,” said Wa-Hi JROTC rifle team coach Sgt. 1st Class Mark Mebes. “In most seasons we hold five league matches. This is only our second league rifle match this year.”
In the sporter class, Lebanon (Ore.) High School’s team won the championship and Wa-Hi placed second, shooting a 2,033. Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Warner fired a career high score of 518 out of 600 points, followed by Cadet 1st Sgt. Christopher Davin with a 506, Cadet 1st Sgt. Gavin Acevedo with a 505 and Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lemons with a 504.
“This was our highest team score all season,” Jeffery said.
“Everyone on the team broke 500, which is something we have been trying to do all year long. It was great to see it all come together for our last match.”
In individual shooting, Jeffery took first in the expert class and Wa-Hi’s Cadet 1st Sgt. Braden Salcedo placed second with a 505.
In the sharpshooter class, Wa-Hi shooter Cadet Pvt. 1st Class Katherine Thompson garneredfirst with a 490.
In the marksman category, the Blue Devils took the first and third positions, with Cadet Sgt. Jacob Bradshaw at 470 and Cadet 1st Lt. Sydnee Walker shooting a 456. Third place in the open class went to freshman Cadet Cpl. Grace Anderson,who posted a 476.
Precision class shooters competed on Wa-Hi’s electronic-scored Megalink Rifle Range, equipped with the same target sets used at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Precision matches were well attended as electronic target images are available on a large-screen TV in the range.
“This system is making shooting a more spectator-friendly sport. Each time a shooter fires a shot, microphones inside the target box triangulate the shot and send the image of the shot to a monitor that the shooter can see,” Mark said.
“The shot and the score then appear on the large-format TV screen in the range. You can watch each shot register almost the instant it is fired. This team has been doing a lot of work the last few weeks getting ready for this match. It was great to see it all come together and have the team know they can shoot a score like this.”
In addition to the team captain’s record-setting scores, teammate results were sophomore Cadet Sgt. Madeline Steinle, 575; Cadet Sgt. Brock Betzler, 573; Cadet Capt. Sammantha Scott, 568; Cadet Maj. Justin Mebes, 562; and Cadet 1st Lt. Connor Hoeft, 553, according to Daniel who was promoted to cadet major on March 14 at the Blue Devils’ Battalion staff meeting.
Blue Devil Precision Team resumed training for upcoming matches.
The team traveled to Anniston, Ala., on Wednesday for the JROTC National Championship, and in early April will participate in the Civilian Marksmanship Program Western Regional match in Salt Lake City.
Shooters Daniel and Brock just received invitations to the Olympic Training Center for Junior Olympic Nationals in April, Mark said, and so will be training for that match, too.
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 23 March 2017