Rifle Team members Katie Zielinski and Eleyna Lamparter, both Seniors, are set to compete at the PIAA state finals held at the Hellertown Sports Complex this week.
Zielinski, the team captain has regularly grabbed the top spot in recent matches while Lamparter frequently trails only a few points behind.
On Their Way
Zielinski and Lamparter are ranked 4th and 19th, respectively, in the league.
Both are 4-year varsity veterans are each is excited (and a bit nervous) about the statewide competition as it will be the first time either has competed solo at that level.
"The team qualified for states two years ago and we've won league championships," Lamparter stated. "We've shot at this level before, but always as a part of a team."
Zielinski added, "We'll have no team back-up this time. Everyone is on their own. We'll even be shooting against each other."
To prep for the big match, the two have been practicing religiously five days a week at the school range.
"We've been simulating the environment they'll be shooting in as close as possible," said Coach Anthony Carito.
"In regular matches they have one target and 10 shots. They're given 15 minutes to shoot. At the state competition, they'll have four targets and 40 shots.
"They have 40 minutes to complete their round."
That may not seem that tough, but competition shooting isn't the same thing as shooting tin cans off a fence.
The shooters lie prone and use single-shot .22 rifles with open sights.
Each shot is carefully calculated and taken with the utmost care, the shooter remaining as still as possible and gently squeezing the trigger while holding on to the rifle like a bear trap.
Page 2 of 3 - Following each shot, spotters report on the progress and advise the shooter to make sight adjustments.
Repeat this 40 times.
Coach Carito tries to add pressure to the practice by giving them less time per shot, but each lady dances to her own drum anyway.
On the firing line, Zielinski progresses through her targets with zest.
"I shoot fast," she admits. "I'm comfortable, usually, but when I need to refocus I look off target or click the heels of my cowboy boots to get my mind back to where it needs to be."
She always wears her boots when she shoots.
Lamparter, admittedly is less quick on the trigger.
Taking reports from her spotter she makes adjustments and coolly squeezes off a round.
"I don't get distracted much, but when I do I reposition or just dry fire to get rid of some tension," she said.
The two also recently competed at the All-Stars match in Stroudsburg.
"There wasn't much pressure at that meet," Zielinski told.
"It was more for fun and it was just within the league. The next competition will be a lot different, definitely more competitive."
There will be a lot more students in the state competition, possibly even as high as 100 shooters.
Only the top 20 shooters from each league go to the state meet, so this is a big deal for North Pocono, which hasn't sent two shooters to states in a very long time.
Page 3 of 3 - "Both girls are excellent shooters," Carito said. "I tell them to clear their mind, relax, and just have fun. If they do that, I like their chances at the state competition."