The Wilson Hall girls scholastic shooting team may be young, but they've got some girls that are making a big splash.
The Lady Barons' 3-person squad of Ann Weathers Blankenship, Samantha Richards and Madisen Galiano wasn't even sure if it was …
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The Lady Barons' 3-person squad of Ann Weathers Blankenship, Samantha Richards and Madisen Galiano wasn't even sure if it was going to compete at the varsity level this year because of its youth. Blankenship and Galiano are eighth-graders, while Richards is a freshman, but they have more than made the most of their decision to compete against older girls. That Wilson Hall trio competed in the SCISA state championships for each of the three scholastic shooting events and took home first in all three.
"We're talking about two eighth-graders and a ninth-grader that beat all the other ladies in all three events to bring home three SCISA state championships," said head coach Brent Hiott. "To see these three young ladies come up and watch them grow in the sport, it's just amazing. They're just really dedicated to it.
"Normally, they'd be shooting JV, but they wanted to see this year whether they could take all three state championships."
The young squad was led by Blankenship, who was the top overall shooter in all three state championships. The weekend of events was held on February 19-20, when the trio competed in both the trap and skeet championships. Blankenship was the top shooter at trap, connecting on 39 of her 50 shots. She was then the top skeet shooter, going 45 for 50.
The Lady Barons concluded competition at the sporting clays championship on March 12-13, marking one of the last events before the shutdown caused by the coronavirus. Blankenship was again the top shooter, going 89 for 100 in the event.
"Ann Weathers, she's the leading lady. She spends a lot of time going out and practicing with her daddy and with the school events," said Hiott. "I've watched her grow from not being able to hit much to continually being HOA (High Overall Average) and the top two or three in every event. I only expect great and wonderful things for her for the next few years."
Richards also had an excellent showing for the Lady Barons, shooting 31-for-50 in trap, 38-for-50 in skeet and 67-for-100 in sporting clays. As the oldest member of the team, Hiott appreciates her consistency.
"She's steady," Hiott said of Richards. "She's steadily improving and she's also one that's a good shot. She wants to learn different techniques, different ways to go at the targets."
Rounding out the squad was a strong performance by Galiano. She was right behind Richards with a 29-for-50 in trap, 29-for-50 in skeet and 53-for-100 in sporting clays. Hiott is excited to see the potential growth in the eighth-grader.
"She's one of those that you have to push a little bit, but once she gets it, she's kind of steady on it," said the Wilson Hall head coach.
As a team, the Lady Barons had a score of 99 in trap, winning the championship by three clays. That would prove to be their closest competition. The trio shot 112 in skeet to win by six, before dominating sporting clays with a score of 209 to win by 14 clays. Hiott said this is only the beginning for the young shooting squad.
"They can do great things. You're talking about the potential to win state for the next three or four years," he said. "With those three girls, they're beating a lot of the guys in their own age group. They've really stepped up to the plate real well."
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