Blue Devil rifle team defends regional title

Wa-Hi Precision Team shooters Nathan Brewer (left) and Daniel Enger shoot at the Western Regional Championship last weekend.

Wa-Hi Precision Team shooters Nathan Brewer (left) and Daniel Enger shoot at the Western Regional Championship last weekend.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Walla Walla High School’s Blue Devil JROTC Precision Rifle Team claimed the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Western Regional Championship for the second year in a row here last weekend.

“The CMP has only held this match twice,” said Wa-Hi coach Mark Mebes. “There was some pressure returning here as the defending champions. The competition was a lot stiffer.”

Both of the Blue Devils’ rifle teams qualified for the match.

The Precision Team of Cadet Lieutenant Allison Juergensen, Cadet Lieutenant Sarah Jameson, Cadet First Sergeant Samantha French, Cadet Sergeant Nathan Brewer and Cadet Corporal Daniel Enger led the field at the finish of the first day’s shooting with a total score of 2,309 out of 2,400, a single point in front of the second-place team and two in front of third.

“We have never seen scores this close,” said Juergensen after the first day of shooting on Friday. “Only three points separated the top four teams. It was anyone’s match going into the second day.”

For Wa-Hi’s Sporter Team of Cadet First Sergeant McKenna French, Cadet Corporal Shandra Kelly, Cadet Corporal Sabrina Keenan, Cadet Corporal Danielle DeSalvo and Cadet Corporal Justin Mebes, this match was their team debut at an event of this size. Of the five sporters, only French had been to a regional-sized match before.

Kelly, the Blue Devils’ top shooter at the end of the first day, led the team with an individual score of 530 out of 600.

“That was my best match so far,” Kelly said on Friday. “Everything just felt really steady today and I fired two of the best kneeling targets I have shot. It all just came together.”

The Sporter team finished the day with a team total of 2,001, putting them in eighth place.

“That is an average of over 500,” said coach Mebes. “I am thrilled with these new shooters. They are going to make up the core of my teams next season, so I really needed them to come here and get some experience. For the new shooters, they are never going to have a match this intimidating again. I was really glad to see them perform well.”

On the second day, Jameson led the Precision Team with an individual score of 587, with Juergensen close behind with a 584, producing a team score of 2,317 for the day and widening the gap between the other teams. Wa-Hi’s two-day total of 4,626 finished 15 points ahead of Volcano Vista High School from New Mexico, which finished in a virtual tie with the third-place team from Salem, Ore.

After the 10-shot final match, Jameson’s score earned her the bronze medal individually.

Kelly again led the Sporter Team with a 523, followed closely by Keenan with a 519, finishing the match in 10th place overall as a team.

“This was a valuable experience for my sporter shooters,” said Mebes. “They got to take the line with the best shooters in the western U.S., and they held their own. They will come home from here much stronger.”

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