CAMP PERRY, OH -- Walla Walla High School’s JROTC Rifle Teams traveled to Camp Perry, Ohio last week for the Army JROTC Regional Rifle Championship. Over 120 of the top qualifying high school ROTC marksmen from across the northern region of the US met at the Gary Anderson National Shooting Complex for the two day match.
The Camp Perry match is the third of three matches that pitted the top Army JROTC shooters against each other vying for honors and an invitation to the All Service JROTC National Championship in March. Over 400 high school JROTC programs compete in local qualifying matches to gain an invitation to the event. The team, captained this year by Cadet Major Madeline Steinle received invitations for both the precision class and sporter class rifle teams. Sporter Team members are Cadet First Sergeant Zakary Gray, Cadet First Sergeant Dakota Buman, Cadet Sergeant Ayden Lanphear, Cadet Sergeant Paige Lockwood and Cadet Sergeant Emily Jerald. Serving on the Precision Team are Steinle, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Brock Betzler, Cadet Lieutenant Katherine Thompson, Cadet Sergeant Jose Gonzalez and Cadet Corporal Ramon Lopez.
The match consisted of 2 days of Olympic-Style air rifle shooting with competitors shooting 20 record shots in each of three firing positions; prone, standing and kneeling. Each shot is worth a total of 10 points, with each shooting a daily score out of a possible 600 each day.
Shooters were divided into 3 relays each day, with the sporter teams shooting the first relay and precision teams shooting later in the day.
The Blue Devil sporter team shot their highest score all year on day 1, led by junior Zakary Gray who produced a 519, followed by Lanphear at 512 and Lockwood with a 502. Their team score of 2026 put them in 12th place out of the 21 teams present.
The Precision team finished the first day with a team total of 2278, putting them in a tie for first place with the team from Stuttgart, Germany. Steinle held WAHI’s top score of the day with a 583, a career high for her which included a perfect 200 in prone and a 192 from the offhand position.
"I made up my mind today that I was going to trust my instincts and enjoy myself." Said Steinle on Saturday "I promised myself that I wasn’t going to overthink things."
At the end of the first day Steinle held the number one spot in the precision class with teammate Betzler just 4 points behind in 2nd place with a 579.
On the second day of competition the sporter team turned another season-high score of 2051, bettering their placement to 9th overall, led again by Gray who shot a career high score of 542.
"Zak was absolutely on fire today" Said Mebes "He’s been turning nothing but outstanding scores in the last few matches. I’m really proud of the work he’s done to get to this point, and it’s great to see it paying off. This is one of the highest scores a WAHI sporter marksman has produced at a national match in several years."
In the precision class, the Blue Devils turned a slightly lower score the second day of the match, dropping into second place behind the team from Stuttgart. Betzler replicated his score from the first day with another 579, giving him a career high two day total of 1158 and placing him in 2nd place overall going into the final match. Steinle dropped into the 3rd place spot for the final behind a 569 giving her a two day total of 1152.
The championship concluded with a final match on Sunday afternoon. In the final, the 8 shooters with the highest 2 day totals trade blows for 10 shots from the standing position to determine final placement and medals.
In the final Betzler and Stuttgart’s Maria Tortoreli dueled shot for shot, matching each other’s pace so that the two of them were never as much as 2 points apart at any time. By the 10th and final shot Betzler had closed Tortoreli’s lead to 1/10th of a point and was poised to take the gold. As the crowd waited for the final shot, Betzler fired a 9.1 and Tortoreli registered a 10.6, ending the contest.
"That is the closest match final I have seen since 2015" Commented Mebes "You could have cut the tension with a knife."
"This is the match I’ve been trying to have all year” Said Betzler of his performance “It was great to have everything come together here."
Steinle successfully defended her 3rd place spot after Stuttgart shooter Kayla Boudreaux closed in on her from the 5th place position, cementing her placement with a 10.7 on her 7th shot that put enough space between her and Boudreaux to finish nearly 3 points ahead of 4th.
At the matches’ conclusion, Betzler claimed Silver, Steinle claimed Bronze and WAHI’s Precision Team took 2nd place in Ohio and 5th place nationally. This placement will earn the Blue Devils an invitation for 4 shooters to attend the All Service JROTC National Championship in Anniston, Alabama March 22nd and 23rd.