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Hempfield junior Bache basks in glory of WPIAL title

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 10:03 p.m.
Keegan Miller, 17, of Hempfield shoots during the WPIAL individual rifle championships in the Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen's Club in Canonsburg on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Melissa LeClair, 16, of Plum takes aim during the WPIAL individual rifle championships in the Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen's Club in Canonsburg on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

In the immediate aftermath of being crowned the WPIAL individual rifle champion, Hempfield's Abbie Bache physically couldn't contain her excitement.

“I'm shaking really bad right now,” she said Thursday from inside the range at the Dormont/Mt. Lebanon Sportsman's Club near Canonsburg, a gold medal draped around her neck.

She might have been shaking after but during? The picture of calm and cool. Bache laughed when told it's better she was shaking upon the conclusion of her relays and not while competing.

“A lot better,” she said. “That would have messed my target up a lot.”

Bache, a junior, was almost perfect. Two days after being just that — perfect — in the WPIAL team rifle championships at the same site, Bache shot a 200-19x with eight center shots.

Within 48 hours, Bache had been the biggest single reason Hempfield won its second WPIAL team championship and the Spartans' second consecutive individual champion. Former teammate Nicole Metz won last year.

“It has become commonplace with this program that they work real hard,” Hempfield coach Tom Miller said. “Some kids work real hard, and it works out for them. They succeed as individuals because of the hard work they put into it.”

It showed Thursday when Hempfield boasted four of the top 12 finishers. All four qualified for the state championship Monday at the Frazier Simplex Rifle Club in Washington.

Spartans juniors Keegan Miller (200-18x, with three center shots) placed fifth, Kelly O'Neill (200-17x, five center shots) eighth and Alex Thomas (200-17x, three center shots) 12th.

Trinity (Kayla Huffman, Tyler James Miller), Plum (Melissa Leclair, Scott Kolar), McGuffey (Courtney Stiles, Casadi Stainbruck) and Avella (Brent Morgan, Cassandra Hamilton) each placed two shooters among the top 14.

Huffman, who shot 200-19x with five center shots, edged Stiles in a tiebreaker to be the runner-up.

“I'm really proud of myself; I had a good season, but this just puts it over the top,” said Huffman, a junior.

“This is all a concentration. You've got to have it.”

Not many handle the pressure better than Bache, who had the only 100-10x score Tuesday. On Thursday, she had perfect bull's-eyes in 19 of her 20 shots over two targets. In a meet-high eight of her shots, she completely destroyed the “10” ring (no one else had more than six center shots).

“She definitely deserves to get first,” Keegan Miller said. “So I give her props, and I'm very proud of her. She did really good.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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