Raiders finish fourth in WPIAL rifle finals

Waynesburg Central finished fourth in the WPIAL Team Rifle Championships Tuesday afternoon with a team score of 798-55x. The Raiders also won the Section 1 crown with an 8-0 record. Members of the team include (front row, from left) Talia Tuttle, Shelby Burkett, Abby Ozohonish, Grace Kalsey, Taylor Burnfield, Colby Simkovic, (back row, from left) assistant coach Mark Pochron, Taylor Wasson, RJ Wolen, Bryce Bedilion, Tristan Cole, Zach Wilson and head coach Rich Rush. (Submitted photo)

Waynesburg Central and West Greene were solid on the range Tuesday afternoon, but the WPIAL Rifle Championships demand perfection as demonstrated by Butler’s gold-medal winning performance.

The Golden Tornado won the team title with a score of 800-67x. Actually, Butler’s 10 shooters didn’t drop a shot as all shot 100-6x or better.

Additionally, Butler had to play their way into the field, entering as the lone wild card team.

“That’s phenomenal. Ten kids didn’t drop a score,” praised West Greene coach Sam Crawford.

“It’s the team that has the capability to bang their way to an 800. Butler shot an 800 to get into the finals, too,” said Waynesburg Central coach Rich Rush. “That’s great. Today was their day.”

The Raiders were pretty close to perfect with their team score of 798-55x to finish fourth and earn a berth into the state team playoffs.

Colby Simkovic’s aim was true as he was one of four to shoot a perfect round of 100-10x.

Bryce Bedilion and Shelby Burkett both shot 100-7x. Taylor Burnfield finished with 100-6x. Tristan Cole and RJ Wolen both scored 100-5x. Talia Tuttle (99-9x) and Grace Kalsey (99-6x) rounded out the scoring.

Abby Ozohonish (99-5x) and Taylor Wasson (98-8x) did not factor in the final tally.

“We pretty much shot our average. Our ‘x count’ was down a little, but that’s to be expected,” Rush said of the Raiders, who won the Section 1 title with an 8-0 mark. “All of I ever ask of them is to shoot their best. That’s the way it’s been all year.”

Rush said his squad was solid throughout the season.

“Last year, we were a little top heavy. This year we have 10 solid kids. Abby (Ozohonish) and Colby (Simkovic) were the only two to count in all eight section matches,” said Rush.

West Greene finished sixth with team total of 797-55x.

DJ Jones and Gavin Tuason shared scoring honors for the Pioneers with 100-8x. Emma Crouse (100-7x), Piper Whitlatch (100-6x), and Owen Hughes (100-5x) also scored 100.

Sheyann Watson scored 99-9x. Alison Thomas (99-8x) and Ruby Rittenhouse (99-4x) also counted in the final score.

Brooke Miller and Zach Frye both shot 98-5x, but did not count in the final score.

“They did pretty good. We shot our average,” said Crawford.

“Sheyann Watson, Alison Thomas and Ruby Rittenhouse dropped a point. It’s the first point Shey has dropped this season,” Crawford said of the Sam Cramer awardee. “But, Owen Hughes stepped up with 100.

“There’s no room for error. I think some nerves got to them.”

Crawford had to adjust his lineup before the squad even left the school.

“One of the starters got sick on the bus, so I had to put my 11th shooter in,” explained Crawford.

Most of the Pioneers’ lineup was new to the WPIAL finals, so Crawford was satisfied how his squad performed.

“I’m happy with the way things worked out. Shey and DJ are the only veterans,” said Crawford.

Waynesburg is the home of the defending WPIAL individual gold medal with 2019 graduate Selena Phillips winning two in a row. The top 16 advance to the state tournament after the field shoots double targets (for a top score of 200).

“Abby (Ozohonish), Bryce (Bedilion), Colby (Simkovic), and Grace (Kalsey) are going. I’m going to have a shoot-off between four today for the fifth spot,” said Rush.

Watson, Jones, Rittenhouse, Thomas and Whitlatch will represent West Greene when they return to the Mt. Lebanon/Dormont Sportsmen’s Club Thursday for the WPIAL Individual Rifle Championships.

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