Smithson Valley Team Qualifies For Navy Marksmanship Nationals
Submitted By Jason Gordon
When several members of Smithson Valley High School’s marksmanship team told Commander Vince Quidachay they wanted better results he had a solution.
Quidachay, who sits at the helm of the Navy Junior ROTC program at SVHS and is also the marksmanship team’s coach, simply changed the practice schedule.
“A few years back we were just practicing once per week,” Quidachay said. “We changed our schedule to four practices per week. Twice per day on Tuesdays and Thursdays – at 6:15 a.m. and at 4:15 p.m.”
The results have been staggering. They sent their first individual, 2017 SVHS graduate Ryan Randle, to the Navy Marksmanship Nationals last year.
This year, for the first time in school history, a team of five Navy JROTC students – Phillip Colton, Taylor Johnson, Kirsten Zeug, Grant Pattison and Anna Johnson – will represent Smithson Valley High School at the Navy Marksmanship Nationals. Nationals will take place in Phoenix, Arizona Feb. 8-10.
The team qualified for nationals after finishing third in the state competition in December.
“After watching Ryan qualify for nationals last year, they all wanted to go,” Quidachay said. “So they made it a point to hardly ever miss a practice because they knew they’d be letting their teammates down. As a result, everybody got a lot better. That’s key in this sport when you’re trying to qualify as a team because everyone’s score counts.”
Competitors shoot pellets from air rifle guns at a paper target 10 meters away during the competitions.
“Every year we’ve been trending upward as a team,” said SVHS senior Taylor Johnson. “My sophomore year was the first time we made it to state. I think that’s when I really started to think about nationals. I think this team will also set a foundation for future Smithson Valley teams to do really well and make it this far.”
SVHS junior Phillip Colton said the extra practice time made all the difference.
“To be honest, the moment I found out we were going to nationals I was pretty surprised but also very happy,” Colton said. “I knew it would happen sooner or later. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and practice.”
Instead of being nervous on the biggest stage, don’t be too shocked if Smithson Valley High School has its best showing at nationals.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we go up there and beat a few teams we’re not expected to,” Quidachay said. “I brought in someone who trains shooters in the military to give our team a couple of lessons. He stressed what’s really important in marksmanship, breathing and relaxation. I can already tell it made a big difference. I think it will help not only at nationals but will carry over to next year’s team as