MOULTRIE — The Colquitt County rifle team will ride one prime element to the state high school state championship finals next month.
The Packers defeated highly regarded East Coweta 1,147-1,139 on Thursday at the high school in a state semifinal match and will be one of the 14 teams vying for a state championship on April 3 at Fort Benning.
The winners of the 24 semifinal matches and the two losing teams with the top scores will compete for the title.
Colquitt County never shot above a 1,149 in a match this season, while East Coweta came to Moultrie having scored a 1,162 in its last match. But the Packers got a high score of 288 and a low score of 286 from its four shooters and East Coweta was unable to overcome a 275 from its low scorer.
Gunnery Sgt. Emmett Bryant, the Packers coach, believes his team has a shot a state championship because while other teams’ scores might fluctuate during the season, Colquitt County’s have been consistently in Colquitt scores also vary little whether the team shoots at home or on the road.
Colquitt County also did not have a shooter score over 288 on Thursday, while East Coweta had two.
East Coweta outscored the Packers by two points in the prone position and by three in the kneeling.
But the Packers outshot their visitors by 13 points in the off-hand position and that made the difference.
“Three other teams have shot higher than us this season, but we are the most consistent,” Bryant said. “I am so proud of the kids. They are already one of the top teams in the country in Marine Corps ROTC.”
Colquitt County got a big boost when Richard Boyd tied a season-high with a 288 to lead the team.
His score was seven points above his season average. Boyd had a 95 in the prone, a 94 in the standing and team-high 99 in kneeling position.
“It was like a light came on for him,” Bryant said.
Erica Soto, the team’s most consistent shooter, had a 287 that included a 98 in the prone, a 95 in the standing and 94 in the kneeling.
Caitlin Davis and Jeffrey Peacock each turned in a 286.
Davis had a 97 in the prone, a 96 standing and a 93 in the kneeling.
Peacock’s 286 included a 94 in the prone and a 96 in both the standing and kneeling positions.
Before Colquitt County will compete in the state high school championships, it will travel to Anniston, Ala., next Thursday to compete in the JROTC National Championships.
Team members, all JROTC cadets, also have an inspection and a drill meet to prepare for before the state meet.
“They’ve got a full plate,” Bryant said.