Bull’s eye Hess wins L-L Individual gold

By on February 13, 2014

Manheim Central senior Elizabeth Hess focuses her sights on the gold medal at last Saturday’s L-L League Individual Championship at Conestoga Valley. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Manheim Central senior Elizabeth Hess focuses her sights on the gold medal at last Saturday’s L-L League Individual Championship at Conestoga Valley. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Target No. 5 was a good one for Manheim Central’s Elizabeth Hess on Saturday.

Ditto for Garden Spot’s Julie Irvin.

At the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Rifle Championships last Saturday at Conestoga Valley, both girls just happened to hit the center on that particular target.

“That usually doesn’t happen and I thought it was kinda cool,” Hess said.

In the end, they each finished with a perfect 200 and went to a shoot-off, where Hess prevailed 199-197 and captured her first-ever L-L championship.

“It was amazing,” Hess said of winning the gold. “It was just a great experience and I’m pretty excited … It was pretty nerve-wracking (in the shoot-off). It was kind of exciting though – they’ve never had to do that before.”

The Barons certainly put together an exciting regular season, reeling off a perfect 12-0 record en route to the title. On Saturday, Manheim Township – led by Jon Kraft’s perfect 200 – edged Central by the slimmest of margins, 984-983.

Knowing the balance that existed between his Barons’ team and those from Township, Ephrata, Elizabethtown and Garden Spot, MC coach Steve Waddington took the runner-up finish in stride.

“I knew going into any match that with those four teams, if they had a good night and we had an off night, they’d beat us,” he said. “Fortunately as we went through the season, it just didn’t unfold that way. It seemed like we had our act together every time we shot against them. I was kinda surprised that we ended up at 12-0. I figured one loss in there may have happened just based on the fact there’s certain days that if I look at the scores in the league, our score was not number one necessarily.”

The way things unfolded for Hess, her average dipped slightly to a 98.3 this winter after finishing as the League’s second All-Star last season. Part of that might have been due to the busy schedule that Hess keeps, as she is also preparing for her part in Manheim Central’s spring musical, “The Music Man,” among other things.

Last Saturday, however, she put it all together.

“Honestly, I think God helped me a little,” said Hess, who placed ninth at Individuals last year with a 196. “I was frustrated with my average from this year and He just blessed me on Saturday with a clear mind. Everything just felt really well. It just all came together.”

Waddington added: “I guess (Saturday), she could clear her head and focus just on the shooting, which was great. I know Elizabeth is capable. It’s all depending of if she’s having a good day or not having a good day. Last season, she was second All-Star in the league, so she definitely has the ability to shoot well. It was not a surprise to see her shoot well.”

Kyle Musser finished second for the Barons, and eighth overall, with a 197, while Dylan Musser and Adam Stone took 10th and 11th, each with a 196.

Sam Mahan, who finished as the league’s top All-Star this season with an average of 99.5, took 35th overall with a 189.

“That (99.5 average) is phenomenal,” Waddington said. “That’s basically shooting 99 or 100 every night. That score (at Individuals) … that’s not Sam Mahan. That was kinda frustrating because the day before, two days before, we were shooting in practice and Sam was drilling the targets.”

Hess, Irvin and Kraft weren’t the only ones drilling the targets at CV. Garden Spot’s Zack Garey fired a perfect 200 as well, helping the Spartans earn a fourth-place finish in the team standings (980).

“It was a great day for Elizabeth and a great day for a lot of the other kids too,” Waddington said. “We had four 200’s. We haven’t done that for a long time now.”

They also made a little bit of history with Hess and Irvin staging the L-L League’s first-ever shoot-off.

“Two great shooters,” Waddington said. “That was neat. It was so cool to see them at the end, they gave each other a hug and how often do you see that between competitors?”

Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4451

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