Five teams invaded the lounge at Blue Trail Range in Wallingford on February 15, 2017 to compete for the High School League Championship title. Xavier High School (Middletown) and Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA) earned the right to compete by going undefeated in their respective Central and Quinnipiac Conferences; the first time for each team in many moons (so long ago that everyone is sure of one thing; the archives do not exist to determine the number of years). The two teams charged in like bulls in a ring out for blood, both sporting recent championship titles under their belt; WMA the previous week capturing the Gallery Match “Prep School” team title after a 28-year long hiatus and Xavier returning to defend the conference championship title. Next in the doors was the Suffield Academy team, the only team on record of sporting seven-consecutive team “high school championship shoot-off” titles. Joining as “wild cards” were North Haven and Bunnell High Schools (Stratford). Each team would be allowed ten shooters, two to the line on each of five relays. Teams all have different strategies – send the best in first or keep them to the last relay, while other coaches make it “shooters choice”, and some are dictated by splitting the shooters up based on sharing of equipment. Whatever the team strategy, everyone enters the range with a clean slate; all season averages, wins and losses are forgotten.
After the third relay, it was evident to the spectators that this would be a match too close to call until the last shot was fired. Adding to the excitement, a female athlete was enjoying an astronomical personal best (PB is the acronym for “personal best” in a shooter’s dictionary). Leticia Sadilina, Suffield Academy, posting a 10th place individual average of 191.13 the entire season, burst into the lounge declaring, “Coach said I shot a perfect score of 50 in prone AND offhand”. It was such a privilege for anyone around her to share her moment. When she learned that she had the top score of 198 for the evening–7 points higher than her average in the toughest match of her career–she quickly went to fetch her targets. Joining her for a PB and firing above her average of 187 was North Haven’s Camille Sahirul and Bunnell’s Hope Kvulich (firing a 196 with a 2nd high overall season average of 195.75). All three of these young ladies were top scorers for their team. While Leticia might have provided the largest upset for the evening, two lads produced just the opposite. While everyone knows that having an athlete that excels in the sport on your school team will push the more novice teammates out of their “comfort zone” to hopefully post better scores, it is still nice to see that they manage their composure so well on a night when everyone is constantly looking up to their “team leader” to set the pace for a good team performance. Both juniors, Xavier’s Michael Acampora and Wilbraham’s Dan Wesson did not let their teammates down. Posting the top score for their team of five aggregate, Michael had the league winning season average of 197 and fired a 197 for the match, while Dan had the 3rd highest league average of 195 and ended the evening with a 195. Both fine marksmen and gentlemen that put a lot of time into their sport, both on a personal level and for their team.
When the match came to a close; and the writer was through struggling with learning the quirks of a new Orion scoring system with a few setbacks during the evening of “operator error”; and, and fielding a couple challenges made to Orion’s accuracy parameters of .40mm radial error set by the International Shooting Sports Federation, Match Director David Lyman declared the results final and official. The undefeated Quinnipiac Conference champions, were declared the High School League Shoot-Off Team Champions by a mere two points. Congratulations Wilbraham & Monson Academy! They fired a team total of 953 to push the 2015/2016 season champions, Xavier High School, with their team score of 915, into 2nd place. Only 4 points behind with a 947 was Bunnell for 3rd. Suffield Academy posted a 942 for 4th and North Haven a 935 for 5th. It is interesting to note, that although North Haven might have had to settle for a last-place team finish, their top five scores ranged from a 188-186 (a mere two points!) with their 6th and 7th scores following with a 185 and 183, a total spread of only five points. North Haven’s goal for this year was to get back into the conference championship match this year and they successfully met the challenge.With this young team only losing one senior this year, and if they practice as hard at the beginning of this coming season like they did this year, if I was in Wilbraham’s and Xavier’s shoes, I would enjoy the moment, but wouldn’t rest too easy on my laurels. Thanks for your patience with the new scoring system and good shooting everyone. It truly was a GREAT match.
For complete results of the shoot-off, go to http://www.orionresults.com/csrra or click here Results High School Championship 2017.02.15. For complete article, click here Article – WMA HS League Shoot-Off Champions 2017.02.28
Blue Trail Range Match Results