Marksmanship teams to again try to elbow Stuttgart from top of podium
Stars and Stripes December 1, 2022
Some DODEA-Europe sharpshooters are setting their sights on competitions at multiple levels this season.
First up, many European programs have until Tuesday to complete their JROTC national championship qualification matches at home. The top four teams in the region that makes up the northeastern United States, and includes DODEA-Europe schools, can qualify for a regional competition in February at Camp Perry, Ohio. The national finals will be held at the same site in late March.
Three DODEA programs currently hold national rankings, according to Vilseck coach John Sabala.
DODEA-Europe competition wraps up Feb. 28. Stuttgart won its ninth straight title last year.
As to who will reach the target of a European crown this year, here are capsules for each school that responded to inquiries from Stars and Stripes:
The Dragons’ roster almost is half-filled with first-year shooters (eight of 17), but coach John Pardo has put the bar at qualifying for the European finals.
To do so, Alconbury will rely on its top three returners and other veterans. Nick Snopkowski enters his fourth year and is team captain, Daniella Pantoja tied for third in the European tournament last year with 571 points but finished fifth based on bull’s-eye tiebreaker, and Rachana Dacumos returns after being the team’s top overall shooter last campaign and taking 20th in the tournament.
Ryan Sears takes aim for his third season and Alan Smith for his second season to round out the returners for the Dragons.
The Cougars fell 18 points short of upending Stuttgart for the DODEA Europe title, and they will try to take the next step with what coach Christopher Buchanan calls the program’s strongest team under his tutelage.
Ansbach has nine high school returners, and two of them come back after finishing the top 25 at last season’s European championships. Junior Alexander Pohlman tied for third with a 571 (finished fourth on the tiebreaker), and senior Collin Robertson tied for 11th place (finished 12th on the tiebreaker) just five points behind.
Also coming back are junior Kenton Duplessie and sophomores Savanna Patterson, Sakura Belmoro, Laysha Bobbitt, Meredith Maxwell and Emma Pirner.
With a host of newcomers joining the squad, the Cougars are likely to be a force again.
The Tigers have been decimated by heavy PCS turnover and a low turnout, leaving them with just three competitors for 2022-2023.
Not that coach Brent Reynolds expects a down year for Hohenfels. In fact, he said the trio is committed to improving throughout the season.
Just one Tiger returns in Lucas Buford. He will be joined by freshmen Grace Otto and Sebastian Felix.
The Raiders enter this season optimistic about its chances following a third-place finish last year.
Kaiserslautern lost four shooters who placed in the top 25 at the European championships, but it still has four returners. Senior Mya Mead, junior Maurnice Ahavit and sophomores Lana Le and Noah Truschinski will lead the way.
Having competed two years ago, senior Kenan Sawyer returns, while senior newcomer Ann McCray and junior transfer Noah Marlow, who was at Aviano last year, add to the Warriors’ core. They also have five underclassmen joining the program, as the Warriors expand their roster from 10 to 12 competitors.
The Falcons will have their hands full with stiff competition among the Eastern Conference.
Vilseck has just two varsity returners in senior Adelena Alavarez, who took 16th last year in Wiesbaden with 561 points, sophomore Emily Dahle. Moving up from the JV squad are seniors Ricky Gravely and Robert Demeo and sophomores Tarrence Carr, Ulric Bridges and Leanna Mantilla.
Adding to these competitors are a large group of newcomers who are expected to have an impact. Included are junior transfers Rheanna Salo and Angle Guerrero and first-year juniors Neveah Collins and Jaiden Benitez. Seven freshmen round out the roster.