Stuttgart extends reign to four years
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 28, 2017
VILSECK, Germany – Once again, Stuttgart didn’t leave much doubt about which school has the top marksmanship program in DODEA-Europe.
Though the competition put up a fight, Panthers shooters won at all levels Saturday at the 2017 European championships, turning in the highest individual scores for standing, kneeling and prone and combining for a 45-point team victory over their nearest competitors.
Stuttgart won its fourth straight title with 2,287 points. Vilseck topped Kaiserslautern for second with 2,242 to the Raiders’ 2,229.
Taking individual honors was Stuttgart’s Fallon Dickinson with a score of 674 – seven points better than Vilseck’s Mikaela Motherwell.
“I tried to stay relaxed and in a good mood,” Dickinson said. “I’m really happy with how my team performed.”
Dickinson was first in both standing (187) and Kneeling (194). Teammate Ximena Soberon took top honors in prone with 197.
Stuttgart’s highest scorer for the season, Callum Funk, finished in a tie for third with teammate Macy Kimball and Vilseck’s Shelby Hartmann at 660.
He attributed his team’s success to experience.
“We’ve matured as a team, together,” Funk said. “We don’t let the pressure get to our heads, and we stay calm. We’ve been practicing and improving across the board all year. We did a great job this season. I’m proud of my team.”
The event marked the end of the DODEA season. However, Vilseck, Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart will proceed to the National JROTC Marksmanship Competition in Ohio next month.
“It’s so exciting,” Hartmann said. “We’ve put in a lot of effort and sacrificed so much to be here. We all have. I’m hoping we keep it up and do well at nationals.”
Marksmanship isn’t exactly atop the high school sports world in the States, but it is popular in some areas. Particularly those with strong ties to the military.
“This is a great sport for our (military) communities,” Robert Hase, the tournament director, said. “This is a lifelong sport, that’s open to anybody. You don’t have to be a natural athlete to be competitive. It gives a lot of our teammates opportunities for scholarships that they otherwise wouldn’t have. We’ve had students go on to shoot at universities and military academies with the skills they honed here.”
Athletes aren’t judged on their strength or speed. In fact, the opposite is true. Marksmen are prized for their ability to relax and focus.
“It can get really stressful when you’re shooting,” Hartmann, said. “I was nervous up there, taking my shots. I had to think back to my coach and take my time.”
For some shooters, the competition signaled the end of their high school marksmanship careers.
Vilseck’s team captain, Victoria Banister has been shooting for four years, making it to the finals each year.
“It was so hard not to cry,” Banister said. “I’m going to miss my team so much. We’re like a family. We depend on each other. I think that’s why we’ve done so well over the years.”