Young Eagle River team begins riflery season at 1-1

Freshmen-heavy team bodes well for future, coach says


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Eagle River High senior Brandon Henderson takes aim duirng a recent riflery practice. Henderson is entering his fourth year on the team.

STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER

With a core group of returners and up-and-coming freshmen, Eagle River High riflery can contend with the Cook Inlet Conference’s best, said seventh-year head coach Jeff Parker.

“We will definitely be a challenge to the top team in the region, which is Dimond,” Parker said during a recent practice. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when.”

Six of Eagle River’s 28 on the team are returning from last year, Parker said. Four of those six — seniors Brandon Henderson, Chris Pascale and Ryan Lavey and junior Branden Lyon — are key returners, he said.

All four bring consistency to the team, Parker said. They are receptive to coaching and want to improve their skills, he said.

Pascale and Henderson are the team’s captains. As seniors, they provide the experience to a young Wolves team, about half of which is made up of freshmen, Parker said.

“They have some good team leadership skills,” he said.

Though new to the sport, the freshmen are catching on quickly, Parker said.

“We’ve got some good young shooters,” he said.

Lyon, a third-year shooter, echoed his coach’s words.

“They’re learning fast,” he said. “They’ve got the positions down.”

One freshmen shooter in particular, Cat Papasodora, is sure to be one of the best in the sport in the coming years, he said.

“She’s a really happy and energetic young kid,” Parker said. “She’s a go-getter.”

The entire team shares Papasodroa’s cheerful attitude, Parker said.

“It’s probably the happiest group I’ve every coached,” he said. “They have a lot of spirit. They have a lot of enthusiasm.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Parker said. “It makes it very pleasurable to coach.”

The Wolves, who fell to 1-1 after losing to West Anchorage 7-0 on Oct. 14, have shown improvement each week early in the season, Parker said.

“We win or we get better, and we’re getting better,” he said. “Our future is very optimistic.”

Parker said the entire team is essential for success.

“It takes a team with everybody involved, whether you’re No. 1 or No. 28,” he said.

The team is hoping to improve on its third-place finish at last year’s CIC championships, Henderson said.

“We’re coming around slow, but I think in the end we’ll be where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got the shooters. It comes down to whether or not they perform in a match.”

Controlling their nerves is key to success in matches, Henderson said.

“Most coaches will say 90 percent of shooting is in the head,” he said. “It’s not a physically demanding sport, but it’s a mentally demanding sport.”

Riflery also has a calming effect, Henderson said, an attribute he likes best about the sport.

“It’s relaxing, and the people are great,” he said.

Lyon said he likes the challenge and camaraderie riflery offers.

“It takes a lot of concentration,” he said. “It’s just fun to do.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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