Woodland Hills wins WPIAL team rifle title in dominant fashion

| Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, 7:09 p.m.

Shooting the best team score in the history of the WPIAL rifle championships wasn't too lofty of a goal for senior Laura Valenti and her Woodland Hills teammates.

The Wolverines shot 800-74x at Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen's Club Tuesday during the team event to edge Hempfield (799-64x) and Bethel Park (799-60x).

The score — 800 indicates that eight shooters tallied perfect scores, 74 the total number of bull's eyes — eclipsed the event's previous best of 800-65x, which Woodland Hills shot while winning gold in 2012.

Further, if counting all 10 shooters and not excluding the normal two, Woodland Hills shot 1000-90x; the previous 10-shooter best was Woodland Hills' 1000-70x in 2012.

“I think we always had it in us,” Valenti said. “All year we were pushing closer and closer to these high scores. Shooting 1000 meant that we're here, and we're ready to shoot.”

Nobody shot less than 100-8x for Woodland Hills, which went 12-0 and captured the Section 2 title this season.

Valenti was one of three Woodland Hills shooters to record a perfect 100-10x. Becca DeVito and Seamus McGuigan were the others.

Woodland Hills won its fourth WPIAL rifle title, adding to others in 1992, 1998 and 2012.

“I tell them to have pride in their performance, and boy, they can be proud of this performance,” Woodland Hills coach Matt Rodrigues said. “It's a heck of a showing in a big match.”

Miranda Johnston, who along with Valenti is one of Woodland Hills' two senior captains, said the team set its goal to become WPIAL champs after finishing second to Hempfield last season.

After a season spent racking up 800s, Woodland Hills achieved its ultimate goal in dramatic fashion.

“We've had a very successful season, and we said we're going to shoot just like we did every other match because it's worked for us,” Johnston said. “Everybody came in clear-headed, calm. We tried to keep the nerves out. Everybody seemed really focused and excited.”

Sonny Breeger, Mike Krivi, Nick Fisher and Maria Brucker shot 100-9x; Johnston, Jake Klimko and Miguel Breight 100-8x.

Dena Simonelli shot 100-10x for Avella, which finished fifth at 797-50x.

Bethel Park got a 100-9x from Becca Kinzel. Kevin McCosby shot 100-9x to lead McGuffey, the Section 1 champ.

The Highlanders finished fourth at 797-55x. Butler was last at 795-53x.

Other perfect scores were turned in by Hempfield's Keegan Miller and Alex Thomas, but the second-place Spartans, who went 12-0 and won Section 3, couldn't match Woodland Hills' dominance.

Nobody in the history of the event could.

“I knew that Woodland Hills was on top of its game,” Hempfield coach Tom Miller said. “They've shot some big scores all season. Obviously from the scores they shot (Tuesday), they earned that title.”

The WPIAL individual rifle championships will be held Thursday at Dormont-Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen's Club.

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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