Shoop & Groff win L-L Rifle medals

By on February 13, 2019
Manheim Central’s Brayden Groff focuses on the target while com-peting at the L-L League Rifle Tournament last Saturday. Photo by Missi Mortimer
Manheim Central’s Brayden Groff focuses on the target while com-peting at the L-L League Rifle Tournament last Saturday. Photo by Missi Mortimer

By Kevin Frey

Coming off an All-Star regular season, Manheim Central’s Brayden Groff was joined by teammate Hunter Shoop as a top-10 medalist in Saturday’s Lancaster-Lebanon League Rifle Tournament at Conestoga Valley High School.

The six top shooters from each of the eight L-L teams walked down the 12 steps to the Latschar Range in groups of eight.

About every 30 minutes, a new group would take its turn.

When they heard the following words, “Shooters, you may now load and lock your first round,” the competition was on.

The shooters had 20 minutes to take two sighting shots and fire pellets at 10 bulls-eyes on side-by-side targets from a distance of ten meters.

Groff’s average of 99.42 per match was fourth in the league during the regular season. He finished behind only Ephrata’s Brianna Bowers (99.67), Elizabethtown’s Matthew Risbon (99.58) and Ephrata’s Nicole Johnson (99.5).

On Saturday, his two target total of 198 with two centers (perfect shot) in the L-L Tournament was good for a ninth-place medal. Shoop was one spot better, in eighth, with a 198 and three centers.

“In the regular season, you have 14 matches to improve,” Shoop said. “Here, you have two targets, shooting against the best people in the league.”

“In a regular match, there is not as much pressure,” Groff added. “You have more time to shoot one target. That definitely brings a different dynamic into it.”

Also competing for the Barons on Saturday were Gage McCabe (15th, 198, 0 centers), Anna Haldeman (16, 197, 3), Ellie McCabe (33, 195, 0) and Kami Groff (42, 193, 0).

“We came with three people who are freshmen this year, and we have three that are juniors,” Manheim Central coach Steve Waddington said. “As a team, I feel pretty good. They did pretty well as a team and next year, they’ll all be back.”

The Barons’ top five finished with a team total of 986, including eight centers, which was fourth overall behind Manheim Township’s tournament record of 994, Ephrata’s 988 (7 centers) and Elizabethtown’s 987 with two centers.

Manheim Township also took the regular-season championship with a record of 12-2.

“I think I could have done better,” Groff said. “(Friday) at practice, I shot a few 200’s. I don’t know if it was just the different range, but I felt a little off today.”

Asked about any superstitions, Groff said laughing, “I make sure not to eat any sugar. And obviously no caffeine.”

“The first shot is always the hardest,” Shoop said. “Take your shot, take a deep breath and look in the scope. Technically I shot 20 one-shot matches today. You have to take one shot at a time.”

“(Friday) in practice, we shot a 994, which would have been tied for the lead today,” Waddington said. “Shooting in practice and then coming here … There’s a little bit more nerves going on here.” 

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