STHS rifle team hits national mark
The varsity marksmanship rifle team of South Tahoe High School recently placed eighth in the country out of more than 700 teams in the Secretary of the Navy National Air Rifle Shooting Championships. This is the highest that the team has ever finished in its seventh year of competition, placing in the top 20 twice before. The team finished first in the precision air rifle division in Area Eleven, which consists of high schools in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii. In the sporter air rifle division, South Tahoe placed second and ninth of 81 teams in Area Eleven. “We had several shooters on the “A” team who have been shooting for several years for us, and because of that experience they have become very acccomplished,” said Matt Williams, a retired lieutenant commander who coaches the team with senior chief Darwin Sharpe. Top shooters on the South Tahoe “A” team in the national championships included Luis Gomez with a score of 258 out of a maximum of 300, placing him 13th in the United States out of nearly 3,000 shooters. “This year, I got to the level I wanted,” Gomez said. “But I think I have a better chance of getting a better score by next year.” Not bad for someone who has less than pefect eyesight. “I’m supposed to wear reading glasses, but they get in the way,” Gomez said. Additional Vikings finding the national mark were Chad Cason, 252 (31st place); Matt Hock, 249 (47th place); and Mary Griffin, 237 (113th place). Other noteworthy performances included cadets Ben Yang (230) and Jordan Sharpe (229). “It was really an exciting culmination of my shooting career,” Yang said. “I never expected to do this well when I started four years ago.” South Tahoe varsity shooters also included Nate Buffa, Aaron Dartt, Alejandra Loyola, Nicole Rider, Stephanie VanBuskirk and Diana Zepeda. During its season, which starts in November and ends in February, South Tahoe shooters captured the Northern Nevada League championship by winning seven matches and losing only one in a closely contested match against Churchill County. The Northern Nevada League consists of Carson, Churchill County, Incline, Reed and South Tahoe high schools. In five years of league competition, South Tahoe has won the league three times and has taken the second-place league trophy twice. “We have an exceptional coach and we really help each out,” Yang said. “Usually we get a couple of members who are extraordinary and they help the ones who aren’t as good and help them become better.” During the season, South Tahoe marksmen fared well in several national matches, winning a second-place trophy in Bayside, Fla., and two third-place trophies in the Ray, Texas and Aransas Pass, Texas. In the Midland Valley, S.C., South Tahoe placed fourth out of 154 teams. The sport of air rifle marksmanship requires athletes to shoot at bull’s-eyes one inch in diameter on 30 targets at a distance of 10 meters (about 33 feet). Athletes shoot from the prone, standing and kneeling positions for a possible score of 300. In order to score a 10 on any bulls-eye, the shooter must hit a target the size of the period at the end of this sentence. College scholarships in rifle marksmanship are available at over 40 universities in the nation, including the University of Nevada at Reno, which has one of the best shooting programs in the United States.