Wednesday, June 08, 2011

SPORTS>>Beebe squad earns top shot

Leader sports editor

Unexpected pressure, unprecedented exposure and unforgiving elements weren’t enough to unsteady the rock- solid Beebe Blue Rock Blasters shooting team, the Mavericks, this past weekend. The Mavericks out-shot 420 other teams Friday and Saturday at Remington Gun Club to bring home first place in the fifth annual Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports State Final in Lonoke.

John Hall, Darren Newell, Dustin Jeffress, Buck Henry and Drew McVey made up the five-man Beebe squad, which entered the tournament as a No. 2 seed from its region. The team won six team matches en route to a championship round win over No. 1 seed Huntsville.

On their way to the championship round, the Mavericks had to get past overall No. 1 seed Harrisburg, and did so by hitting 118 of 125 targets to beat the talented Hornets by one target.

The first round brought some unexpected attention, and maybe some added pressure, as the ShootingNetwork.TV webcast team arrived to film Beebe’s opening round.

The shooters didn’t find out about the film crew’s planned attendance until they stepped to the line to begin competition.

“We (the coaches) knew about an hour ahead of time and decided not to let them know until they walked up to the line,” Maverick coach Mike Jeffress said. “We just told them to go up there, shoot at the targets like they always do and you’ll be fine. That’s what they did.”

Despite the added distraction of a TV crew, the Beebe team hit 111 targets to advance to the second round.

Each round saw Beebe’s score go up until the semifinal round, when only four teams were left standing.

The third round saw the Mavericks hit 114 targets, they hit 115 in the fourth round before the outstanding round of 118 in the quarterfinals that beat Harrisburg.

In their final-four match, the Mavericks hit just 109 targets, not their best, but still good enough to beat Corning’s 107 and advance to the championship round.

Again in the final round, web-TV crews and news cameras on hand, the teams were informed they would be shooting at special, handmade targets that would explode with colors when hit, to make for better TV viewing.

Huntsville won a coin toss and elected to go first. They put the pressure on the Beebe team, tying the Mavericks’ second-best outing of the day, and beating their previous round’s score by six targets.

Unfazed, the Mavericks took their positions and hit 117 targets to take the title.

Jeffress said the shooters did a great job of staying relaxed throughout the event.

“They said they were a little nervous for about the first 10 shots of the first round, but after that they settled down. They said they were more anxious with each round, but not really nervous. They were just anxious to start competing.”

The win didn’t just come with a trophy. Each team member also received a $1,500 scholarship to any state college, and a duck hunting trip in the fall. The Mavericks also earned the right to represent Arkansas in the national competition later this year in Sparta, Ill.

ShootingNetwork.TV will begin airing the competition on June 6. For more information on broadcast times, visit the Shooting Network website.