The Plattsburgh State marksmanship club scored an upset victory Saturday, winning the smallbore competition against the NCAA rifle team from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the Plattsburgh Rod and Gun Club.

PSUC’s 2,053-1,865 triumph with the .22 caliber smallbore rifles followed Friday’s loss to the 14-time Mid-Atlantic Rifle Conference (MAC) champion Bloodhounds in the .177 caliber air rifle competition, with a final score of 2,220-2,142.

PSUC head coach Peter Visconti was quick to point out the rarity of his team’s win.

“A club level team outshooting an NCAA team is almost unheard of,” Visconti said.

Friday’s competition featured a new team record for PSUC, as Christina Dunn beat her own record from last season’s MAC Championship with a score of 558. Each competition sees shooters scored on accuracy, taking 10 shots at six targets. With a maximum score of 100 on each target, a perfect score would be 600.

Trailing right behind Dunn for PSUC was Kim Quinn, who shot a score of 550.

“I felt really good,” Quinn said. “I haven’t had as much practice as I’d like.”

Quinn is one of several members of the team whose first competitive shooting experience came when the club formed in 2017.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Quinn said. “Honestly, it’s really relaxing. I’ve definitely gained an outlet outside of school work by being here.”

Quinn and Dunn’s team-leading scores were unable to pace the team to victory Friday, falling behind John Jay’s Susana Sanchez and Ida Sato, who shot 576 and 562, respectively.

While the air rifle competition saw shooters approach targets from a standing position at a distance of 33 feet, the smallbore competition involved the shooters aiming at two targets from each of three positions — standing, kneeling and prone — at a distance of 50 feet.

“I’m confident with my standing,” Quinn said. “My kneeling and my prone always give me a little extra concern, but if I can just get out of my head I should be fine.”

While John Jay’s Michael Hyde took the top score on the day with a 533, edging out Mike Buck’s PSUC-record 532, it was the home team that came out victorious.

With the top three shooters for each team all scoring more than 500, the match was decided by the fourth shooter; PSUC’s Justin Yeaple scored a 495, while John Jay’s Brazilian freshman Izadora Zetola — who had shot 525 on Friday — could only manage a score of 304.

Despite the fact that the match pitted an NCAA team against a club team, John Jay coach Vince Maiorino, in his 16th year with the Bloodhounds and 52nd, and final, year as a coach, denied any suggestion of his team taking the opposition lightly.

“We shoot it as a MAC match,” Maiorino said. “We approach it the same way we approach every match. We prepare for it in physical training and in the mental attitude to compete.”

Notably, John Jay was only able to travel with the minimum of four shooters, due to injuries and some students’ inability to get clearance to miss weekend classes, while PSUC fielded 12 shooters. PSUC named five “starters” from among the 12, and the top four from those were compared to John Jay’s totals.

With the team’s individual and collective records falling in both competitions, PSUC’s coach believed it was the result of lessons learned at the MAC Championship last season, while also noting that he thinks the best students sometimes make the best shooters.

“I think it’s the experience we had last year,” Visconti said. “We had all of our starters come back, which helps.”

Visconti said that PSUC’s scores were both a blessing and a curse. Last season, PSUC took the MAC championship for the sharpshooter division — the third, and lowest, tier — in the air rifle, while taking second in the smallbore. With the MAC switching to only two tiers this season, scoring more than 2,100 moves the club up to the master division — the top tier, which features NCAA teams like John Jay, the US Coast Guard Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Maiorino, who was Visconti’s coach during his tenure at St. John’s University was eager to congratulate PSUC for it’s success so early in the club’s life.

“Plattsburgh, I have to give them a lot of kudos,” Maiorino said. “They came from nowhere.”

For Maiorino, his team’s strength comes from their cooperation and commitment to work together.

“They work well together,” Maiorino said. “They support each other and constantly help each other to get better. It’s almost like a little family.”

This could be seen Friday, when Sanchez and Sato excitedly shared a celebratory hug upon seeing their scores that day. The same team-first mentality was on display between PSUC’s shooters, helping each other set up their equipment and giving tips.

That cooperation even extended between the teams, as Maiorino could be seen speaking to, and offering advice to, PSUC students in between rounds of shooting Friday. Visconti was unsurprised by this.

“With this sport, there’s a lot of sportsmanship,” Visconti said. “There’s a goodwill amongst teams.”

The PSUC marksmanship club’s next MAC competition is on the road this weekend, as the team travels to Rotterdam, New York, Saturday to take on fellow club teams from SUNY Maritime, Canisius College and Johns Hopkins University.

Quinn said that she and her teammates will not be bothered by the change of venue.

“There are a little more nerves, but it’s also a little more exciting to go somewhere else,” Quinn said. “It’s different; the way they put targets on the walls is different. Everything should come together, though.”

Visconti hopes that good scores like those earned last weekend, and the significant victories those scores bring, will help the club to recruit experienced shooters and ensure the club’s future.

“I hope to continue to grow [the club] and have as many students as possible participate,” Visconti said. “I want to introduce them to the sport, to let them see how safe it is. Hopefully they’ll get a love for the sport.”

With sustained success, Visconti also hopes to put this relatively young club in a position to make a bigger impact on the PSUC sports stage.

“Who knows?” Visconti said. “Maybe, at some point, the school will decide to add another sport, and we can easily swap from club to NCAA.”

Email Nathanael LePage at
cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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