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Wolves with aim

By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

Wolford School sophomore Madison Marchus led the Wolves with the team’s highest air rifle score at the North Dakota State Junior Olympic Championship on Jan. 18 at Minot Rifle and Pistol Club.

MINOT – Madison Marchus knows she might be just one year of practice away from qualifying for the USA Shooting Sports Junior Olympics, so being the top air rifle shooter for the Wolford Wolves isn’t enough.

Marchus led a group of three Wolford girls with a 366 out of a possible 400 points in the North Dakota State Junior Olympic Selection Match on Jan. 18 at Minot Rifle and Pistol Club. She needed 381 to advance to the national Junior Olympic competition at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I wish I could’ve done better,” Marchus said. “I had an 88 in there and shouldn’t be shooting anything lower than a 90.”

The girls can earn as much as 100 points per round (4) and boys have six rounds. Marchus’ quick criticism of her performance is representative of the growing potential and expectations for Wolford – the only school-sponsored shooting team in the state.

“She wants everything to be above a 90 now,” Wolford coach Bill Langer said. “Oh yeah, they have the mentality. They’re competitive. They want to push themselves and we have really high competition in North Dakota, so if you have a competitive nature and you want to win, you have to push yourself.”

The Wolford School air rifle team from left to right: Sophomore shooters Hannah Walsh, Kenzie Halvorson and Madison Marchus; senior Josh Morrow and seventh-grader Koby Marchus. Tim Chapman/PCT

The Wolves also brought two male competitors to the match in senior Josh Morrow and seventh-grader Koby Marchus. Morrow notched his best score with a 401 out of 600 for his final competition as a Wolford student. He can still compete in junior competitions through the age of 20.

“I was shooting for 400 so I’m glad I got that,” Morrow said. “I’m probably going to College in Wahpeton and I’ll come back now and then and shoot with the team in my spare time.”

Langer praised Morrow for a strong career with the Wolves and described his lone senior as a leader.

“He’s always improved, but I don’t think he’s really looking to win anything and I think he’s just looking to have fun and be part of a group and part of a team,” Langer said. “He’s been good, and, especially now that I have the three seventh graders. … He’s been shooting long enough that if I have to talk to one of ’em, I know he’s there to watch over and make sure everything’s safe and stuff like that.”

Sophomores Hannah Walsh and Kenzie Halvorson shot 352 and 349, respectively. All of the Wolves improved from the previous year.

“Every year they seem to go up, and like I said, now they’re in the hard points,” Langer said, “so they aren’t going to jump 20 points or 30 points. I’m looking for just improvement of five or six or seven points in a match.

“It’s a mental thing. Madison and Kenzie have both shot targets in the middle to high 90s. It’s just a matter of putting four of them in a row and not shooting that 88.”

Team pride also plays a role for the Wolves, who harness their unique opportunity.

“It’s feels pretty good, especially since it’s our school, where other people have to be part of a shooting club,” Madison Marchus said. “It’s just at our school where I can shoot with my friends at our school. I really enjoy that. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Walsh also competed in the junior air pistol competition and earned silver in the second-best division with a score of 294 out of 400. Competitors can only use one hand when shooting the pistol.

Langer believes his girls are on the cusp of advancing to the next level, and the Wolves will continue to provide some of the state’s top shooters.

“I’ve been shooting for 25 to 30 years and still sometimes when I’m in a match or whatever, you can get the gun up and you can get it there and you’re being timed and it’s like ‘Oh, I can get it, I can get it,’ ” Langer said, “and it’s just a mental thing that you have to physically say, ‘Put the gun down and start over again.’ And it’s gonna take time, but it doesn’t take that much time, so I’m real pleased. All three of the girls are pushing 90-plus averages, so they’re in the hard points.”

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