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Riflery wins another state title; finishes undefeated

Many championships are close, or at least competitive, with the outcome coming down to a play here or there.

Every once in a while, a championship is a blowout, where one team is just that much better.

This year’s riflery championship was a blowout.

For the sixth time in seven years, Wilbraham & Monson Academy posted the top score at the Connecticut High School Championship at Blue Trail Ridge in Wallingford, Connecticut, Feb. 22.

Competing in a five-team field, the Titans finished with a season-high 953 points (out of 1,000), winning by 26 points.

“Their ability to focus and block out all the 'noise' that comes along with a championship match (was key),” Coach Bill Passy said. “There's a lot more people there and a lot more going on. They handled it well.”

“The performance was great,” WMA’s Askar Bakirdinov ’24 said. “I am sure that even (if our) top shooters weren't in the best shape we would win the competition. I also really like how organized the team was. During each relay change everyone knew what they had to do during the change.”

Askar recorded the high score among the 50 competitors, shooting a 195 (out of 200). Marisa Cyboron ’24 192, Sungjae Yeo ’24 191 (season high), Arzum Li ’24 188 and Kai Yi “Polly” Lin ’25 187 (tied season high) completed the scoring for the Titans, who finished the season undefeated.

Upon its return to campus, the team earned the right to celebrate like all championship Titans teams – by ringing the Monson Bell.

"Ringing the Monson Bell is a great tradition not everyone gets to do,” Coach Passy explained. “The best part is seeing the joy and excitement the kids have while doing it. We have been very fortunate to have done it so many times with so many different kids.”

Marisa and Matt Clark ’24 praised the efforts of the coaches, saying they are the reason why the team is so competitive year after year.

“I think that the team has been so strong for such a long time because of everyone's discipline, hard work, genuine love for the sport, and the amazing coaching we get from coaches Passy, (Brian) Lautenschleger and (Jamie) Gouin,” Marisa said. “We have a competitive advantage in that we are able to practice six days a week in our own range as well.”

“The coaching definitely is why this team has been undefeated for so long,” Matt added. “Mr. Passy, Mr. L and Mr. G were full of encouragement and help advise us to improve throughout the season. Their push gave the team the motivation to improve every practice and every meet.”

After the championship match, Askar (third place), Marisa (fourth) and Matt (eighth) received trophies for finishing in the top 10 for the regular season.

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