Ansbach’s Alexander Pohlman helped his team win a DODEA-Europe championship in  January before the Cougars triumphed in a Stateside competition against fellow Army JROTC schools earlier this month.

Ansbach’s Alexander Pohlman helped his team win a DODEA-Europe championship in January before the Cougars triumphed in a Stateside competition against fellow Army JROTC schools earlier this month. (Matt Wagner/Stars and Stripes)

The Ansbach marksmanship team just can’t stop coming out on top.

First, the Cougars ended Stuttgart’s longtime reign by winning the program’s first DODEA-Europe championship Jan 28 in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Then Feb. 10-11, Ansbach won the Army JROTC title during the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Service National Finals at Camp Perry, Ohio, totaling 4,624 points. Fountain Fort Carson High School from Colorado finished second with 4,613.

The victory qualified Ansbach for the All-Service Finals back at Camp Perry on March 23-25. The top two teams and individuals from each of the service finals recived invitations.

“It’s been a great year,” Cougars coach Christopher Buchanan said. “I think everything we’ve entered, we’ve come in first place.”

Individually, the Cougars had three shooters finish in the Army’s top eight at Camp Perry, competing in the final shoot-off. Alexander Pohlman took fourth (and eighth overall) with 1,266.1, Kalea Russell placed fifth with 1,262.5 and Collin Robertson came in eighth with 1,256.4.

Alconbury won the Air Force competition with a score of 4,501 – four points ahead of Kaiserslautern. The Raiders’ Noah Truschinski placed first in the Air Force competition and second overall with 1,243.6 points. Alconbury’s and Kaiserslautern’s teams swept the top eight Air Force individual spots.

Seven teams from six DODEA schools – two from Ansbach, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden and Vilseck on the Army side and Alconbury and Kaiserslautern on the Air Force side – competed at the event.

On the Army side, Stuttgart took ninth with 4,540; Ansbach’s second team, 10th, 4,537; Wiesbaden, 12th, 4,506; and Vilseck, 13th, 4,492. For individuals, Stuttgart’s Leila Ybarra took seventh in the Army competition with 1,252 points.

“It’s very educational, seeing how they shoot and at the same time learning from those instructors,” Buchanan said of DODEA-Europe’s success. “I always learn a lot from them, how I can better my program. So, I really look forward to us spending time with the other teams.”

The Raiders led the Dragons by eight points after the first day, but illness swept the squad and they couldn’t hold on during the second day.

Also hurting the squad was the fact that Ann McCray was not designated a scorer. Only four of the five competitors count toward the team scores, and the coaches had to choose prior to the event. McCray finished fourth in the Army event and seventh overall with 1,230.1 points.

“I’m glad that we made it to the finals,” McCray said. “(My performance) did (shock me) because that was my highest score I have ever gotten. Before, I had to improve a lot to get here.”

The Raiders said they learned a lot, seeing teams from both the Army and Air Force JROTC programs.

“At Camp Perry, we saw many different teams,” said Kaiserslautern junior Maurnice Ahavit, who finished eighth at Camp Perry. “They were really good, too, and we really can take marksmanship higher as a team than we have. So, hopefully we can do that next year.”

While the Raiders and McCray received invitations to return in March, coach William Conley said his shooters decided to stay home. Multiple team members will be competing in DODEA spring sports.

“As we talked afterward, I left it up to them. I said if this was something you really want to do, we’ll make it happen,” Conley said. “The team, really in their maturity, was like, ‘You know, let’s just stay (in Germany). Let’s work on we need to and get ready for next year.”

Ansbach, meanwhile, will be seeking to add to an already historic season.

Buchanan said the Cougars rank sixth when results from all service branches are combined. And after seeing other teams from across the U.S., the Ansbach coach said his competitors have a lot of room for improvement before returning to Ohio.

“There are a few areas that we learned about while we were shooting in Ohio that we can improve, and we’re going to strive to do that,” Buchanan said. “We should be pretty successful next time in Ohio also.”

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Matt is a sports reporter for Stars and Stripes based in Kaiserslautern, Germany. A son of two career Air Force aircraft maintenance technicians, he previously worked at newspapers in northeast Ohio for 10 years and is a graduate of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

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