The JROTC Rifle Team returned home from the All Service JROTC National Championship in Anniston, Alabama, after a record-setting performance that gained them the national number two ranking after four months of qualifying matches.
The team, consisting of Cadet Majors Sabrina Keenan and Madeline Erikson, Cadet Captain Evan Jameson and Cadet Staff Sergeant Daniel Enger finished out their JROTC Rifle season after winning local and regional qualifying matches that had them placed as one of the top JROTC Rifle teams in the nation, gaining the team its fifth invite to the All Service Championship.
As the top Army precision rifle team that was invited, they competed against the number two, three and four ranked Army teams, as well as the top teams from Navy, Air Force and Marine JROTC programs in a two day contest held at the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s southern national competition center in Alabama.
Seventeen teams representing high school ROTC programs from schools across the country fired a course that included 20 record shots from each of three positions: prone, standing and kneeling. They shot on two separate days for a total possible score of 1200 points per shooter and 4800 points per team.
Each day concluded with a “final,” in which the top 8 individuals would square off for 10 final shots from the standing position to determine individual placement for the day. Scores from the final are not added to team scores. At the end of the first day Walla Walla produced a score of 2320 out of 2400, with none of its shooters holding a high enough score to enter the final.
“We shot a solid score, but not a spectacular score,” Rifle Coach Mark Mebes said. “Two years ago we would have been thrilled to shoot a 2320, but this match is becoming more competitive every year and right now it has us in fourth place.” On the second day, the team entered the range two hours prior to their scheduled start time to begin pre-match activities.
As the match began, each shooter fired 20 shots from the prone position, matching their team record of 799 out of 800 points. Senior Madeline Erikson produced the top prone score on the team, firing a 200 out of 200 both days of the match.
“I was really pleased with my scores both days,” Erikson said. “There were several college coaches there. I was hoping I could hold my position even though I knew they were watching. I just tried to block everything else out and focus on my plan for each shot.”
Moving to the standing position the Blue Devil cadets eclipsed their prior day’s offhand scores by 13 points including a nearly perfect 99 out of 100 from Keenan on her second target, and a 97 and 98 from Enger that left them both within range of breaking 590 for the day.
When the last kneeling shot was fired, Enger emerged at the top of the day’s competition with a 592, Keenan with a 590, Erikson at 584 and Jameson with a 575. Their one-day score of 2341 broke the old Wa-Hi team record of 2333, set last month by the same four shooters at the Army National Match in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The team also broke the school’s two-day school record with a 4661 out of 4800, enough to move the Blue Devils from fourth place into second place behind the Marine JROTC team from East Cowetta High School in Georgia. In the match final Enger defended his first place position, fending off a highly competitive field of challengers, including his teammate Keenan. On Saturday Enger emerged in first place for the day, with Keenan in seventh.
When the two-day scores and finals were combined, Enger placed fifth overall and Keenan 12th. “Scores in these matches are getting higher and higher each season,” Mebes said. “A few short years ago a 4661 would have won this match with plenty to spare. Now it is a signal to us that we are capable of shooting scores we didn’t think were previously possible, and there is still room to improve if we keep putting in the time and the work.”
Wa-Hi’s rifle team has now ended its JROTC season. They are preparing for the civilian rifle matches that will stretch throughout the summer. They will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to compete in the CMP Western Regional Championship in the hopes that they will win a bid to the CMP National Match in Camp Perry, Ohio, this July.