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Riflery wins 5th-straight championship

Great programs find a way to win. Wilbraham & Monson Academy Riflery is a great program.

Trailing by eight points headed into the final group of shooters, Wilbraham & Monson Academy rallied to win the Connecticut High School Shoot-Off at Blue Trail Range in Connecticut on Feb. 28.

Led by Vivi Venkat ’25, the Titans posted a winning score of 943 points (of 1,000), beating Suffield Academy (934), Xavier High School (926), Grasso Technical High School (909) and North Haven High School (885).    

It was the fifth consecutive state title – and seventh in eight seasons – for Coach Bill Passy and the Titans.

“Winning this year was special as it is my last year as coach,” said Coach Passy. “This team overcame a lot of obstacles. Veteran leadership was outstanding, and the new kids were eager to learn and talented. It was a great mix and I will miss these kids.”

The format included five relays, with two shooters/team in each. The top five shooters scored for each team. After the fourth relay, WMA was down eight points to Suffield.

“I wasn't really surprised as I had noticed that our opponents had 'front loaded' their lineup,” Coach Passy explained. “We tend to put more of our better shooters late. You want shooters at the end who can handle the situation, and I knew the two we had in the last relay could handle that spot. I felt our strategy was solid.”

Vivi came through like the great shooter that she is, posting a match-high score of 193 points (of 200). Sungjae Yeo ’24 was also in the final relay and scored a solid 188, pushing WMA past its archrival.

“That's why she is in that final relay,” Coach Passy said of his top shooter. “She has worked hard on not letting outside influences affect her. She insists on not knowing the result of each shot so she doesn't get nervous. She just trusts her ability and her coaches.”   

“Being in the fifth and the last relay of the match in itself was stressful not to look at the scores as my teammates shot,” Vivi admitted. “But on coach’s advice, most of us did not look at the scores until we won so as to not add pressure on performance. This definitely helped with my shooting. In addition to not knowing any scores, I shot without hearing my scores as I shot as well, and at the end of the day it all worked out.” 

Marisa Cyboron ’24 opened the scoring for WMA with a 191, which was the second-best result of the match. Yejun Lee ’27 (career-best 187) and Arzum Li ’24 (184) also scored for the Titans.

“It was great winning again,” said Marisa, who never lost a match in her four years on WMA Riflery. “We worked really hard this season and it showed in our performance. A lot of people had season-high scores yesterday and the energy was great.”

This year’s championship was particularly sweet because the Titans had to work extra hard for it, entering the season after losing a number of their top shooters.

“We lose key shooters every year, but we lost our best shooter a week before matches started,” Coach Passy explained. “That was a bit unsettling for everyone. I reminded them that we can't dwell on kids who are not here, and that we still have enough talent on the team to win.”

And they did.   


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