Riflery completes turn-around season
The Wilbraham & Monson Academy Riflery team didn’t win a championship this season.
The Titans, though, came close, and the returning members are already excited to begin the 2014-15 season.
WMA completed its turn-around campaign Feb. 19 when it placed third at the Prep School Gallery Match in Connecticut, missing the league title by just six points. Valeria Surkovaite ’14 led the Titans with a score of 194 (out of 200), followed by Dimash Aimurzayev ’14 (192), Robert “RJ” Taylor ’15 (186) and Andy Goncalves ’15 (184).
“Where we ended was beating Xavier, six points from beating Avon, and then tying Suffield in the championship,” first-year Coach Brian Easler said. “I was talking recently with RJ - he’s already jazzed up for next year. Next year we’re going to start out where we are now. We are losing Valeria and Dimash, but we have really good shooters coming up. We even have some middle school students coming up.”
The Titans shot up the league riflery ranks all season, scoring a victory over Xavier for its first win in at least six seasons.
“We did a great job throughout the season,” Dimash said. “We had a big improvement.” Coach Easler and Coach John Lombard brought a high level of expectation to the program, which included physical fitness and mental preparation along with the standard shooting techniques.
“The coaches are probably the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Dimash said. “Each coach gave us something different. Mr. Easler taught us to dial in and get into good habits, while Mr. Lombard supported Mr. Easler but gave up some jokes. The main reason for our success was our coaches. They were dedicated.”
Even though they didn’t win, the Titans were at their best at the Gallery Match. Not only did the WMA team shoot well, but the team members also rallied around fellow teammates without any prodding from the coaches.
“We supported each other,” Coach Easler said. “The JV kids, who were shooting toward the end, came in on their own for the first few rounds to help so Coach Lombard, (manager) Josh VanVoorhis ’16 and I could just sight people in and we wouldn’t have to help people with guns and targets. It was great how they all came together, and they all had a great time.
“The defining quote was, at the end of the day, Dimash came over and said, ‘This is the most fun I’ve had in my entire life.’”
And the Titans are already counting on having fun next year as well.
“Throughout the year we’ve worked on becoming better shooters,” RJ said. “We worked on everything we needed to work on. I’m looking forward to next year because our team is very focused and we’re ready to come back with a winning record next year.”