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Patch favored to take marksmanship crown

The 2013-14 DODDS-Europe marksmanship championships will take place Saturday at Wiesbaden. Here’s a look at the contenders:

Patch: The Panthers have been the runaway dominant team this season and look poised to take their title back from Vilseck. The numbers in their favor are startling.

Patch is the only team to post more than 1,400 team points in a meet this season. The Panthers did it four times in five tries; they scored 1,397 in the other.

The Panthers won their five regular-season meets by an average of 135 points.

Patch shooters are the only competitors in DODDS-Europe to score at least 288 individual points in a meet. Four Panthers - Maggie Ehmann, Caelyn Miller, Lucas Gilliland and Erika Hoffman - have hit that number. Ehmann and Miller both scored a 290 on Dec. 7.

Ansbach: The Cougars enjoyed three team victories over the course of the season, dropping just the first and last meets. Despite that disappointment last Saturday, in which the Cougars actually finished third behind Vilseck and Hohenfels, the team won the regular-season eastern conference points race with 6,714 points to Vilseck’s 6,706.

A solid core group including Kaitlynn Carson, Hanna Eckert, Anastacia Henry and Brian Sowders gives the Cougars a realistic chance at a team title.

Vilseck: Last season’s Falcons team won the European title behind the force of will of a group of long-denied seniors determined to graduate as champions. This year, the team experienced the inevitable letdown from that euphoria.

For a young team in a self-described “rebuilding year,” however, Vilseck acquitted itself quite well. The Falcons hung with Ansbach and Hohenfels throughout, and earned a win over both last Saturday to cap the regular season. Senior Meraleigh Randle posted a 285 to claim individual honors in that same meet, while runner-up Kaitlin Wood, Chandler Johnson and Kiara Falealii also cracked the top 10.

Hohenfels: The Tigers won the eastern conference meet on the first weekend of the season, scoring 1,322 points to edge Ansbach and Vilseck. Though their scores held steady, or even improved, over the following four weeks, the rest of the field surpassed them, and they didn’t win another meet.

While the team has fallen behind, ace shooter Katherine Gamble gives Hohenfels a good shot at glory on Saturday. Her score of 287 puts her in rare company with Baumholder’s Rachel Holliday and the Patch contingent. Michelle Wiley and Isaac Mayfield have also made regular top-10 appearances this season.

Baumholder: The Bucs found the glass ceiling guarded by ferocious Panthers each week of the regular season, finishing second to Patch on five straight occasions. Their closest brush with an upset came Dec. 14 in a 72-point defeat that saw Baumholder post a season-high 1,325 points.

Always consistent, Holliday broke out in a big way Jan. 11 with an elite score of 287. The team’s other top shooters include Tristan Maddox and Kris Martinez.

Wiesbaden: The newest faces on the marksmanship scene are quickly becoming familiar to their DODDS-Europe foes.

The Warriors bested fellow recent addition Alconbury to take the third and final European championship berth allotted the western conference. Wiesbaden edged Alconbury for third place in four of five meets, each time finishing behind Patch and Baumholder.

Though opposing coaches expect the Warriors to contend in the future, this year probably won’t be their year. Max Petrunyak, Josh Yarbrough, and Antonia Mulalley represent the home team’s best chance at a surprise.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

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