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Stuttgart extends marksmanship dominance for another season

Stuttgart's Callum Funk checks his shot placement during the DODEA-Europe Marksmanship championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. Funk took the top overall shooter spot with 574 points.

MICHAEL B. KELLER/STARS AND STRIPES

By GREGORY BROOME | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 3, 2018

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The Stuttgart Panthers’ marksmanship dynasty faces an uncertain future. No such uncertainty was apparent Saturday, however. 

The Panthers claimed their fifth straight DODEA-Europe marksmanship championship Saturday at Kaiserslautern High School, easily outshooting the five rival programs gathered for the first championship event of the 2018 DODEA-Europe athletics calendar. 

The senior-heavy Stuttgart squad went through its processes methodically and confidently, and ended the day hoarding its customary haul of collective and individual trophies. The Panthers’ dominance was total, as the team’s four qualifying shooters claimed the top four individual spots in the meet.

Senior Callum Funk shot a 574 overall for a first-place finish. Sophomore Isabelle Ploechinger finished a close runner-up at 572. Seniors Eileen Dickinson and Fallon Dickinson turned in matching scores of 568 to complete the Stuttgart sweep at the top.

Funk was consistently excellent across all three shooting positions, including a 189-point kneeling total, 195 prone and a meet-high 190 standing. The cumulative total added up to more than even Funk, the season-long frontrunner in DODEA-Europe, expected of himself. The senior said he “was trying to aim for over 570,” and was thrilled to check in comfortably above that threshold.

“It came together today,” Funk said.

Funk came into the meet with a proverbial target on his back after a dominant winter, and admitted thinking he could “only lose ground” as the favorite entering the finals. So he turned his focus to his team, and the fact that he felt “obligated” to perform well to deliver another title on his way out.

“Luckily it turned out well in my favor,” Funk said.

Vilseck junior Mikaela Motherwell finished first in the non-Stuttgart division of the event, registering a total of 567 for a solid fifth-place showing that included a meet-best score of 196 in prone position.

Motherwell said that she’s moving back stateside just days after the match.

And while she’s usually nervous before meets, the Falcon captain explained that her upcoming PCS actually eased rather than added to her anxiety on Saturday.

“The excitement of today really overpowered the nervousness,” Motherwell said. “I guess it’s the fact that it’s my last match and I wanted to make the most of it. I kept telling myself that I don’t have to get first place or anything, I can just try to place my best and try to make the most out of my last match.”

Despite Motherwell’s strong showing, Vilseck dipped from its runner-up team finish of a year ago to fourth place this year. Wiesbaden seized on the opportunity, edging host Kaiserslautern for second place. Both teams finished with 2,196 points; the Warriors claimed the tiebreaker with 73 bullseyes to the Raiders’ 66.

Both the Warriors and Raiders placed two shooters in the top 10, led by sixth-place finisher Victoria Jackson of Kaiserslautern with 562. The Raiders’ senior leader rounded out her impressive DODEA-Europe career with a rousing performance in the post-meet standing shootout that capped the day.

“I could see she had a lot of natural talent right away, and she got better and better through the years,” Kaiserslautern coach Robert Meyer said of Jackson’s three-year tenure with the program. “She’s been great.”

While other teams enjoyed memorable moments, the event again belonged to coach Raul Pinon and the Panthers. But with four outgoing seniors, the reigning champions might be vulnerable to future challenges in a way they decidedly weren’t on Saturday. Whatever happens after they leave, the program’s graduating group, including Funk, the Dickinsons and Macy Kimball, has left a legacy in Stuttgart.

“We’ve been together for a long time and it’s been the same core group of people,” Funk said.

“Not only are we good teammates, but we’re good friends.”

Not to mention excellent shooters.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes

Ansbach's Eliana Vales fires during the DODEA-Europe Marksmanship championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.
MICHAEL B. KELLER/STARS AND STRIPES

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