The Bunnell High co-ed rifle team set its sights on one of the best finishes the Bulldogs ever had and the locals placed third at the Blue Trail Range in Wallingford on Feb. 15.
The Bulldogs were one of two wild card teams, along with the top three teams in the conference, that competed for the Connecticut High School Shoot-Off Championship.
Quinnipiac Conference Champion Wilbraham & Monson Academy went undefeated during the season and won the title with a total team score of 953.
Central Conference champion Xavier High, last year’s defending champs, also went undefeated during the season but finished as runner-up with a total score of 951.
Bunnell with a 3-3 regular season record under head coach Josie Burzynski, entered the Shoot-Off as a wild card team based on its season average. The Bulldogs finished third shooting a 947, with three shooters placing in the top five scores.
Each athlete records 20 shots, five from each of four positions, and the team score is tabulated with the five highest scores among the 10 athletes with a 200 being a perfect score.
“I have twelve wonderful student-athletes,” said Burzynski. “We had, I believe, the most ever (four) finish with a top ten award for individual season averages since the team began in 1999. At the championship we are only allowed to use ten athletes and we had three finish in the top five.”
Bunnell was led by junior Hope Kavulich, who came in with the second highest average in the state at 195.75.
She led the state last year with an average of 195.33.
Kavulich scored a 196 to finish in third place and will represent Bunnell at the National Junior Olympics on April 14-19 at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Kavulich, who shot a 199 to tie the Bunnell record in a match against North Haven in January, showed her form scoring a perfect 50 in the prone position and hit 49’s in the kneel and sitting positions.
Junior Rose Reynolds hit for two perfect scores with 50’s in the prone and sitting position, scoring a 195 to finish tied for fourth with freshman teammate Lauren Chechoski, who hit a perfect score of 50 from the standing position.
Freshman Haley Reynolds hit a perfect score with a 50 from the prone position and finishing with a score of 186.
Senior Michele Morra scored a 175, junior Kyle Sullivan 172, freshman Joe Monte 171, sophomore Magnus Ordner 164, junior Carly Wermuth 156 and junior Kellie Taylor 140.
Freshman Anthony Liquori and Samantha Carlson also participated during the Bunnell successful season.
Only ten of the 50 athletes reached scores of 190 or better.
Suffield’s Leticia Sadilina led all scorers with a 198. Michael Acampora of Xavier was second with a score of 197. North Haven finished in fifth place as a team with a score of 935.
“We are beyond proud of Hope for qualifying for the Junior Olympics,” said Burzynski, a 2007 Bunnell graduate who also qualified for the Junior Olympics as a member of the Bulldogs rifle team.
“Having been there, I can say, it’s a truly amazing experience and we are so excited for Hope. It’s a special feeling to come back and coach the team that you use to be. I have some truly amazing and wonderful student-athletes on this team.
“My hope for them going into this championship was that everyone would do about their season average. I knew what they were all capable of — and to do it all together was a good outcome.”
Bunnell loses Morra to graduation.
The Bulldogs will come next season as one of the teams to beat, armed with five seniors, a junior and five sophomores.
Among the returnees are four athletes who finished in the top ten for averages on the season — Kavulich second at 195.75, Chechoski fourth at 194, Rose Reynolds fifth at 193.33 and Haley Reynolds seventh at 192.33.