Fifteen Georgia High School Rifle Teams consisting of more than 97 team members and individual rifle shooters converged at the Georgia High School Association State Riflery Championship on Saturday April 28, 2018, which was held at the U. S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Pool Shooting Complex in Fort Benning, Georgia. The Ware County Rifle Team, in true Gator form, claimed their second consecutive Georgia State Championship win by shooting a team combined and "State Record" score of 1169. The scoring team consisted of Ware County High School Freshman Laci J., Sophomore Benjamin S., Jr., Sophomore Tyler H., Sophomore Rayne R., and Sophomore Bryce Y. The team score is the sum of the top four shooters out of the five.
Laci and Ben led the Gators by shooting individual scores of 294, followed by Tyler who landed a 292, and summed up by Rayne, who shot a 289, totalling 1169 for the team. The Gators' score of 1169 beat the 1168 record set by East Coweta in the 2016 Championship match. Bryce ended the match with a score of 278.
Why stop at a championship win when there is more to be won? Laci, Ben, and Tyler's score were within the top eight shooters, out of 97, securing each a spot in the individual finals match, which consisted of ten record shots where each shot had to be made within a 50 second time window. Laci commanded the lead, becoming the individual State Champion. Ben completed his final shot with an impressive third place finish, and Tyler claimed the seventh place individual overall score.
Laci, Ben, and Tyler were also named to the Georgia All State Team which summed up the championship match. All State members are the top 10 shooters in Georgia with the highest average scores of ten or more GSHA shooting matches.
Most people who are familiar with the Ware County Rifle Team know that they are some of the best in Georgia. What follows is an impressive list of the five 2018 core team members' State and National accomplishments:
5 - Georgia State Record Holders
5 - 2018 Georgia State Champions
4 - 2017 Georgia State Champions
1 - 2018 State Champion Individual Gold Medalist
1- 2018 State Champion Individual Bronze Medalist
3 - 2018 All State Rifle Team
1 - 2017 All State Rifle Team
2 - National Junior Olympic Silver Medalist (2016 and 2018)
1 - Two time Georgia State Junior Olympic Silver Medalist (2017 and 2018)
3 - Georgia State Finalists
5 - 2018 Regional Champions
4 - 2017 Regional Champions
1 - Qualified and competed in three consecutive National Junior Olympic Championships (2016, 2017, 2018)
4 - Qualified and competed in the 2018 National Junior Olympic Championship
3 - U.S. Army Junior National Shooting Championship
2 - CMP National Championship Ninth Place Team
Head Coach Maurice England said, "The team has worked very hard for this championship match, and it showed. Their hard work paid off. I'm so proud of each and everyone of them! Special thanks to both Assistant Coach Duane Caswell and Assistant Coach Dave Hanson for all their dedication and efforts to the team; I couldn't do it without them."
England gave the team a one week vacation for the record setting championship win. The team will have to jump right in to practice after the time off, as they will be traveling to Camp Perry, Ohio to compete in the USA Shooting and CMP National 3 Position Championship to take place in Late June. Spectators are welcome to watch the Gators practice and attend matches.