Riflery wins championship; sets 2 school records
In any sport, greatness rises to the occasion.
Junyi “Brian” Lu ’21 is a great shooter, and Wilbraham & Monson Academy Riflery is a great team.
In its biggest competition of the season, Brian and his teammates were at their best, setting multiple school records en route to winning the Connecticut High School League Shoot-Off Feb. 26 in Wallingford, Connecticut.
Brian finished with a 199 (out of 200) to lead the Titans, who finished with a five-person score of 967 (out of 1,000). Both totals established school marks. WMA topped the five-team field by 11 points, with Bunnell High School of Stratford, Connecticut, placing second at 956.
Along with Brian, Wooseung “Colin” Oh ’22 (193), Ryan Cordeiro ’21 (193), Jinyu “Melody” Zhan ’22 (191) and Arzum Li ’23 (191) all landed in the top 10 and contributed to the school mark, which was previously 966.
Brian bettered the individual school record of 198, which was shared by Dan Wesson ’18 and Erika Convery ’19.
Coach Bill Passy on Brian’s performance: “Brian was outstanding, especially in a championship match. He was nervous going in about this performance; he’s been kind of up and down for us a little bit. Wednesday was a great performance under the circumstances. He’s a fierce competitor. He works really hard and doesn’t take no for an answer. He always wants to improve and you can’t ask for more than that from a kid.”
Coach Passy on the team school record: “It was incredible. Before the match started I told the team I’d take a 955 as a score – that would put us in the mix. We shot a 967, which was incredible given the pressure and competition. The team that came in second Bunnell, they have mostly year-round shooters. For us to beat them with seasonal shooters was impressive.”
Coach Passy on the team winning the championship: “We kind of expected it the other two years (2016-17, 2017-18) because we had veteran shooters. This year we were fairly young; we had a returning nucleus of about four kids coming back. To see them progress through the year like they did and improve, it was big. Our depth at the beginning of the year was a little thin but as they improved it made us much stronger. To have that going into a big match is good because you don’t have to rely on the same people. And the best part is we only graduate one senior. We had record-breaking years in 2017 and 2018, which were great for the school, but I think this one was more impressive just because of the younger team. It came out of nowhere, really.”
Brian on setting the school record: “When I was at the match I was in the fourth relay. Six teammates shot before me and they all shot better than normal. When it was my turn I thought I had to be better because they were better and working hard. I was so nervous about not reaching the expectations of my teammates and coach. But when I got in the first position I got zero points off. Twice while I was shooting I thought I might break the school record because I was shooting really well. When I finished shooting I expected (the score) to be 195, but I didn’t expect 199. When I heard the result I was so excited. It’s the biggest achievement of my life so far.”
Brian regarding WMA Riflery: “It’s a great sport. It works on our mindset. It’s not just a physical sport but it’s also a mental sport. You have to be tough at both. I think it’s a great sport – I love it.”
Ryan on the team’s performance at the championship: “We did amazing. The bus ride home was great. Everyone was happy, and we got ice cream to top it all off.”
Ryan on the WMA Riflery program: “I think Coach helps push us. I also think Dan Wesson helped a lot, because he taught me and now I can teach other people. We all help each other so much because we’re all so close. There’s only 13 of us so we can help each other a lot.”