The Union County High School Rifle Team ended a tough year with the notification from the National Rifle Association that the Stingers slipped from first place last year to third place this year in the NRA Military Scholastic national rankings.
Union County’s winning score of 1127 from last year would have been enough to repeat as national champions, but the 1103 actually fired dropped us to third place behind the Bordelon Rifles (1117) and the El Dorado MCJROTC (1116). This match was fired at the NRA Junior Sectional at the UCHS range on March 17 and compiled by the NRA staff into a national ranking. The Stingers were led by Mitchell Ward whose 372 was enough for seventh place in the national military scholastic ranking. Tommy McKelvey shot 371 and Jonathan Bailey shot 360. Other team members firing as individuals included Cole Sigmon, Denise Cipriano, Cody Sigmon, and Sarah McGee.
The Stingers started their competition year by winning the JROTC Fourth Brigade Precision Air Rifle Championship in a postal match in December. This win qualified the team to compete in the US Army JROTC National Match. The team score of 1127 was 10th in the Army.
The team stayed in shape in January by competing in two postal matches, the McMichael HS Air Force JROTC Postal and the Oxford Marine Corps JROTC Postal. The Stingers won both matches.
In February, the team traveled to Anniston, AL, for the Army JROTC National Precision Rifle Championships. Team Captain Tommy McKelvey led the team with a score of 1138. Mitchell Ward shot 1131, Jonathan Bailey shot 1112, and Cole Sigmon shot 1111. The team score of 4492 was lower than last year, but the team ranking improved from 9th to 8th in the Army.
On April 21, the Stingers won the Civilian Marksmanship Program Three Position Air Rifle State Championship against North Augusta Naval JROTC, the only competition in the precision class. Winning team members were Mitchell Ward (569), Tommy McKelvey (565), Cole Sigmon (541) and Denise Cipriano (535). Tommy also received a trophy as the top female shooter. Also competing as an individual was sixth grader Cody Sigmon.
2012 Graduate Tommy McKelvey will be a member of the Wofford Terrier NCAA team next year. Coach Randy Hall expects her to be a starter based on the scores she shot in high school. Returning team members Mitchell Ward, Cole Sigmon, Cathryn Young, and Denise Cipriano are determined to return the UCHS team to its national championship form.