State champion Hempfield rifle team poised for promising future
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The Hempfield High School rifle team may not be the most well-known group in the WPIAL, but it's quickly — and quietly — becoming one of its most decorated.
The Spartans recently captured their second consecutive state championship, which was held at the Frazier Simplex Rifle Club in Washington.
The state crown came days after Hempfield won the WPIAL team championship.
Defending the state team title at the beginning of the season, however, may have seemed like a long shot.
Tom Miller, known as a demanding coach, lost some key team members from a year ago and had to fill the starting lineup with several inexperienced underclassmen — including two freshmen. The Spartans have just two seniors.
“This was definitely a harder title to win,” Miller said. “We had to fill some spaces in the starting lineup with some kids with little or no experience. I can't say enough about the amount of work they put in to win another title. They really put in a lot of hard work all season.”
The Spartans edged runner-up McGuffey, 974-969, at the state competition. Tyler Mincin, Kayla Dowling and Alex Thomas led Hempfield with scores of 198, 195 and 194, respectively. All three were named to the all-tournament team.
“For kids to do well in this sport, it takes several things,” Miller said.
“First off, they have to be willing to learn and have a drive to do it. They must be able to be mentally prepared. This group was able to do all those things and perform at a very high level under stressful circumstances.”
On an individual basis, the Spartans had four members finish in the top 25 — Abbie Bache (10th), Alex Thomas (12th), Keegan Miller (15th) and Kelly O'Neill (24th).
At the WPIAL individual championships, Bache won her second consecutive gold.
Hempfield could be poised for a potential state three-peat next year: Bache, Miller, O'Neill and Thomas are all juniors.
Miller is banking on the program's success as the key to it continuing to grow.
“When you win, and win at a high level, kids recruit themselves,” Miller said. “I like to think our record does the recruiting. This is a hard sport. We spend half of each practice on the mental side of things. Most of our kids come to us with little or no firearm experience, which we prefer because they won't have too many bad habits. But these are smart kids. They take what we teach them and apply it.”
But, as Miller's track record shows, he's awfully good at teaching the sport.
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Happ’s strong start, Ramirez’s homer pace Pirates past Rockies
- QB Vick hits ground running in debut
- Butler organization seeks answers for unexplained phenomena
- Pitt star running back Conner remains grounded despite success
- Starting 9: Pirates place renewed emphasis on nabbing base-stealers
- Biertempfel: Pittsburgh native faced quick learning curve as Marlins GM
- Pitt’s cancer institute marks 30 years with eye toward future
- Exclusive to the Trib: Lift the oil export ban? Think again