Wa-Hi Precision Team Wins Junior Olympic State Championship
By Cadet Major Shaunia Marek

On February 11th, Wa-Hi’s precision rifle team claimed the title of Washington State Junior Olympic Champions at the 2021 Washington State Junior Olympic Air Rifle Championship match. Battling five other teams across Washington State, Wa-Hi was able to win first place with a comfortable 32 point lead over Capital City Gold.

The match was conducted virtually with targets being scored with Orion scoring technology developed by the company Shooter's Technology. With Orion, rifle teams from different locations from around the state can send images of scanned targets to be scored at a sanctioned central location. The algorithm for Orion can pinpoint the center of a target and the center of a shot down to the thousandth of an inch. The distance between the two points are then measured to help calculate the score.
"Orion is an extremely accurate system," said Rifle Coach SFC Mark Mebes. "It has been under constant development and improvement for over a decade and we are glad that we are able to make use of it during this pandemic when travel is limited for most rifle teams. It allows our shooters to compete in matches alongside other teams when we would otherwise be stuck at home."
The five cadets that competed as part of Wa-Hi’s rifle team were Cadet Captain Jazmyn Paul, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Lopez-Gutierrez, Cadet Captain Daniel Girardin, Cadet First Sergeant Nicole Hunter, and Cadet Sergeant First Class Cassidy Hanson. Of the five cadets that competed for Wa-Hi, three managed to be ranked among the top four highest scoring shooters in the match.
With a career high score of 581 points, Hunter was the top marksman for Wa-Hi. Among her targets was a 100 point prone target, a 96 point standing target, and a 98 point kneeling target. She also scored 26 center x ten shots which is a shot that scored 10.2 or higher out of a possible 10.9 points. Her performance placed her second statewide for this match, just 7 points away from Alexis Kunze from Oak Harbor’s first place score.
The second highest scoring Wa-Hi marksman was Hanson with a score of 580 points. With 28 center x ten shots, she was just able to beat out Lopez who matched Hanson’s 580 score but shot only 27 center x ten shots. With one center x ten shot less than Hanson, Lopez came in as Wa-Hi’s third highest scoring marksman on the team and fourth statewide out of all the shooters competing in the match.
Team scores were calculated by combining the scores of the top 4 marksmen from each team. Out of a total possible 2400 points, Wa-Hi finished with a final score of 2298 points. With the title of state champions under their belt, cadets on the team are hoping to have a chance to compete in nationals later on in the year.
"Junior Olympic state champions normally receive automatic invitations to the national championships in July," said Rifle Team Captain Jazmyn Paul on Monday after final scores were in. "We assume we will receive an invite, but you never know until you get that email. Still, this is a nationally competitive score, so we are optimistic that if pandemic conditions allow travel and competition this summer, we will be there."
"Washington is a power-house state in the sport of precision air rifle," said SFC Mebes. "The last time we won the state Junior Olympics as a team was in 2015, six years ago. Our training time has been severely limited this year due to COVID conditions, but it looks like our cadets have risen to the challenge. I am excited to see what the rest of the season will bring."