Chugiak riflery team shoots high after losing key senior
Mustangs have CIC title in their sights
STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER
The loss of Matt Martin hasn’t affected Chugiak High riflery.
After a one-point victory over Eagle River in a preseason match, the Mustangs blanked Bartlett and Service to start the 2011-12 season. Chugiak is strong at the A, B and C levels, said third-year shooter Cole Criswell.
“We’ve got a lot of depth at all levels,” he said. “The team’s looking great.”
A talent like Martin, now a freshman on West Virginia University’s riflery team, is rare, Chugiak head coach William “Top” Dill said.
“Shooters like Matt come one in a few hundred,” he said. “Matt was the man. What a kid.”
Chugiak, now 2-0, is still in a rebuilding year, Dill said. He said next season the team will be a formidable force in the Cook Inlet Conference.
“Next year will be our peaking year,” he said.
Four-year senior Michael Langman agreed.
Excelling in riflery takes experience, Langman said, and Chugiak will have several four-year shooters next season.
“This is not a sport you can just enter and be good,” Langman said.
Leading Chugiak is four-year senior captain Devon Clark, who shot a team-best 278 against the Cougars on Friday, Oct. 14.
“Devon is a good shooter,” Dill said. “He’s also a cadet. He’s a very disciplined kid.”
Gage Bradford (276) and Langman (274) followed close behind Clark against Service. The Mustangs next travel to Dimond High on Friday, Oct. 21 for a match at 3:30 p.m. Along with West and South, the Lynx will be tough opponents, Dill said.
“Dimond is always a powerhouse,” he said.
Though happy with the start, Criswell said the team isn’t getting ahead of itself.
“We’re starting pretty good in the season, but we’re not gonna get cocky,” he said.
Chugiak fields a strong team each year due to good coaching from Dill, Criswell said.
Like every season, the Mustangs want to claim the CIC title, Criswell said.
“The team goal is to always win regions,” he said. “Be the top team in the state.”
“We want to win regions real bad,” Langman added.
Chugiak wants to rack up victories, Langman said, but displaying good character is also important.
“We want to be a respectful team,” he said. “We want to win, but you can lose graciously.”
Dill also stressed the importance of character.
“I want the kids on this team to learn more about character and respect than the clicks on a bull’s-eye,” he said. “That’s my philosophy.
“My job is to teach them basic marksmanship and rifle safety,” Dill said.
The individual aspect of riflery is one of the things that drew Criswell to the sport, he said.
“It’s me versus myself,” Criswell said. “Riflery is mind games with yourself.”
For Langman, the attraction of riflery is it’s a sport where peaking is impossible, he said. There’s a constant drive to improve, he said.
“When you do something to move less, your score goes up,” Langman said.
As it is prior to a match, staying relaxed is key while shooting, Criswell said.
“The last shot doesn’t matter,” he said. “The next shot is the most important.
“You just have to shoot your game,” Criswell said.
Dill, a retired Marine who’s been at Chugiak for nearly two decades, said he’s grateful to have backing from the school’s activities office.
“The program is only as strong as the administrative support,” he said. “And ours is the best.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org