Alli Kissell is learning how to handle the pressure of success.
The Portage sophomore shot a 295 out of a possible 300 in the unbeaten Mustangs’ rifle match victory over previously undefeated Conemaugh Township last week.
This is not the first time the young athlete has felt the stress of competition.
“I actually won the Pennsylvania State Junior Olympic championship, so I’ve been under pressure. But I haven’t been under it for a long time,” Kissell said after the Tuesday match. “This is the end of my first year of shooting for the high school and competitive shooting. I’ve been under pressure, but I can’t say I’ve been under it a lot.”
Kissell said it’s a matter of getting used to people watching you while you are shooting.
“The pressure is on, but I generally do better in a high-pressure situation,” said Kissell, part of a Portage squad that clinched the WestPAC crown on Friday. “It makes you really focus on what you are doing. You are not being lackadaisical about your shooting. It’s like at practice where if you mess up it’s OK so for me, the pressure adds more focus and more excitement.”
The high school shooters are aiming at targets that are the size of a pinhead and they shoot from three different postitions - prone, standing and kneeling.
Kissell began shooting as a youngster with parental supervision.
“When I was younger, I was shooting tin cans in the backyard with my family and I have a little bit of hunting experience, but I’ve never shot a deer,” the Mustangs’ sophomore said. “When I got into sixth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Lutz, she referred me to the junior program at the Portage pistol club and we shot little rifles for postition on Saturdays at noon for an hour, and when I got into ninth grade I got on the Portage rifle team.”
When the Mustangs shot against the Indians last year, Kissell caught the attention of Conemaugh Township assistant coach John Binnie.
“John Binnie coaches the Jerome Sportsmen’s junior rifle program and he started checking up on my scores and watching me shoot,” Kissell said. “One day he called my dad and asked if I would want to come down to Jerome to shoot with them. It was a big honor to be asked to come shoot down here.”
Kissell took advantage of the opportunity.
“All through the summer, I’ve been shooting and going different places,” Kissell said. “I’ve been to Georgia, Ohio and West Virginia to open shoots.”
Kissell ‘s calm demeaner under fire should help her to continue to excel in her future shooting endeavors.
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Winter woes: The continuing onslaught of winter weather since the start of 2014 has left athletic directors with plenty of challenges trying to reschedule regular-season games in the final week of the season before the playoffs get underway during the week of Feb. 17.
The first Sunday basketball game of the season is on the schedule this week when Greater Johnstown’s girls entertain Bishop McCort.
The last Sunday high school sporting event took place in 2003 and also included the Crimson Crushers when the team played Bishop Carroll at Windber Stadium. The Huskies won 34-8 and went on to play in the PIAA championship, losing 49-20 to Southern Columbia.