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Mustangs rifle teams optimistic about WPIAL chances this season

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

A high level of interest from Plum students in the offseason and high participation in open ranges this past fall created a lot of enthusiasm and optimism for the Plum varsity and junior varsity rifle teams.

Competitive tryouts produced 20-member varsity and junior varsity teams, and the returning talent from last year's squad has head coach Scott Kolar excited for what his shooters can accomplish.

“Our level of competitiveness has gone way up,” Kolar said. “I haven't seen our level of shooting be this good since I've been associated with the team. We have high hopes.”

Plum was scheduled to open its season Tuesday at Waynesburg Central, and the match was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Mustangs host Mt. Lebanon this Tuesday and then visit Butler on Dec. 13. All varsity matches are slated to begin at 3:30 p.m.

Kolar said close to 80 students showed interest in rifle at an offseason meeting, and about 60 tried out.

He said it is the first time there will be separate varsity and JV teams. The JV team will practice at the range while the varsity is at away matches, and the JV shooters also will compete alongside the varsity in their own match when Plum visits Butler on Dec. 13 and again on Jan. 17.

Plum will compete in Section 3 with Hempfield, Butler and Indiana. The other two sections have five teams, so the Mustangs will face the three other teams in Section 3 three times.

The season begins with shooters designated either varsity or JV, but, Kolar said, the shooters on JV always have a chance to move up to the varsity roster.

“A freshman, for example, who puts the time and effort in and shows he or she can shoot a consistent top score can shoot varsity,” he said. “They won't be stuck on the JV team.”

Kolar said a good core of shooters is back from last year's varsity team, including the only two seniors — Jake Danik and Scott Kolar.

Juniors Ian Michaels and Melissa LeClair also return and join Danik and Kolar as shooters reaching scores most consistently at 100, coach Kolar said.

Danik, coach Kolar said, shot a perfect 100-10x in practice last Friday.

LeClair, Danik and Kolar competed at the WPIAL championship meet last season, and LeClair led the Mustangs shooters with a 21st overall finish. Danik came in 24th.

Juniors Rebecca Hall, Mikaela Zacher, Anastasia Klonowski, Caleb Tarosky, Brendan Galdo and Josh Repasi also are back after contributing in varsity matches last season. Coach Kolar said they have been laying down 100s every other practice.

Each varsity match consists of 10 declared shooters, and the top eight finishers from that declared 10 count towards the team's score.

“The kids are really excited about what they can do this season,” coach Kolar said.

Juniors Alyssa Puskar and Georgiy Frolov and freshman Victoria Michaels are new Plum varsity rifle shooters.

“When you are around good shooters, you get better,” coach Kolar said.

“Victoria is already shooting 97s and above. Georgiy is new to the district. He never fired a rifle in his life. On Friday in practice, he shot a 99. He seems to be a natural talent.”

Coach Kolar said everyone is improving.

“This is a thinking person's sport,” he said.

“Discipline, focus and self-control are other key factors that contribute to a strong shooter. Being able to analyze and troubleshoot is important. Even if someone is just starting to shoot, they can be successful if they have those strengths.”

Also on the varsity team are juniors Jacob Boissnnault, Katie Chontos, Brittany Marsh, Stella Pratt and Michael Reddick; and sophomores Thomas Blaskovich and John Kudranski.

Junior varsity shooters heading into the season are juniors James Kocher and Ashley Oravetz; sophomores Daniel Allman, Michael Bell, Nicholas Comer, Faith Gratton, Zachary Knight, Jennifer Kvortek, Austin Leonzio, Christopher Mattheis and Kevin Ritchie; and freshmen Alyssa Doyle, Matthew Koma, Tyler Kurtz, Kirstin Palumbo, James Pattock, Stephen Shields, John Shipley, Vincent Starr and Alexander Tejchman.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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