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Hempfield wins WPIAL rifle championship

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Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

Her shirt was white, but the lettering of the words “Women hunt” and a silhouette of a buck's head were both pink.

For the second consecutive season at the WPIAL team rifle championships, Hempfield's Abbie Bache bettered not just all the guys — she was the only participant with a perfect 100-10x score.

Unlike last season, though, this time Bache's efforts led to a championship.

Led by Bache, Hempfield edged defending champion Woodland Hills to win the school's second WPIAL rifle title on Tuesday at Dormont/Mt. Lebanon Sportsman's Club in Canonsburg.

“It feels awesome,” said Bache, a junior. “Throughout the season, there hasn't been as much pressure, and I feel like I do a lot better under pressure. So this kind of validated that I'm good under pressure.

“The pressure kind of calms me down with the nerves.”

Bache was also the only shooter to score 100-10x last season, but Hempfield finished behind Woodland Hills when both had 800 points but the Wolverines' 65x topped the Spartans' 61x. (The “x” signifies the number of perfect bull's-eyes).

This season, again, Woodland Hills and Hempfield were the only teams to score 800. But it was the Spartans' 66x that topped the Wolverines' 57x, giving them their second title in the past four years.

“We were on a mission,” Hempfield coach Tom Miller said. “We knew what we had to get done. We finished second here last year — and they didn't like that.”

No one liked it less than Bache, who was one of four Hempfield shooters to place in the top 20 at the 2012 state championships, helping the Spartans to the title.

“Abbie is an impressive girl,” Miller said. “The girls typically handle the pressure better (than boys) in match situations like this and in high pressure situations, and Abbie definitely does.”

In addition to Bache, Hempfield also had three of the 10 shooters who scored 100-9x — senior Kayla Dowling and juniors Kelly O'Neill and Keegan Miller.

Also among the Spartans' top eight were junior Alex Thomas (100-8x), senior Alex Pedder (100-7x), junior Tyler Mincin (100-7x) and freshman Jake Prinkley (100-7x). Sophomore Nate Ligus and freshman Mason Kemerer were Hempfield's other starters (the top eight scores from each team's 10 participants count).

“I've been here for four years; the feeling's incredible,” Pedder said. “I've worked and put in a lot of work with my team and to be able to win it. ... the feeling's indescribable. The only thing you can say is the hard work paid off.”

Junior Laura Valenti shot 100-9x and Mike Krivi, Nick Fisher and Miguel Breight each shot 100-8x to pace Woodland Hills, the Section 2 champion that was out for its fourth WPIAL championship (old Churchill High won five titles in the 1970s and 80s).

“We know whenever we're shooting against Hempfield, that's a big rivalry,” Wolverines coach Matt Rodrigues said. “And the rivalry continues. But we know (Tuesday) was a great day of competition. There's no doubt about that.”

McGuffey (798-64x), Avella (797-62x), Trinity (797-59x) and Plum (796-56x) rounded out the competition.

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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