Wa-Hi’s Caitlyn Lasseigne shoots to 12th at national air rifle competition

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Walla Walla High School rifle team captain Caitlyn Lasseigne finished her career on a high note last week, finishing 12th

at the 23rd annual American Legion National Championship three-position air rifle shooting competition held in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The championship field consisted of 15 elite shooters who were drawn from a qualifying pool of 1,500 shooters nationwide.

“This is the most exclusive match we participate in all year.” said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Mebes, who coached the Army JROTC rifle team to a Junior Olympics national title earlier this summer.

“This is the first time a Wa-Hi shooter has made it to the final stage of this match.” Mebes said. “In 23 years, Caitlyn is also only the 20th person from Washington state to be invited. Individually, it puts her in the “who’s who” of junior rifle shooting across the country.”

The American Legion championship is also one of the most demanding in junior shooting sports. Athletes shoot two matches per day, each consisting of 20 record shots in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling.

“We were in position shooting for five to six hours both days,” Lasseigne said. “I went through almost 500 rounds of ammunition.”

On the first morning of the match, which began Aug. 6, Lasseigne fired a score of 577 out of 600.

“I had some equipment challenges that first morning,” Lasseigne said. “After lunch we readjusted my gear and I took a walk around the Olympic Training Center to clear my head. It was incredible to see the Olympic athletes walking around to and from training. It really refocused me.”

In her afternoon match, she improved her score by nine points, shooting a 586 — only one point off her all-time best score.

The next morning she fired another 586 and a 584 that afternoon to finish in 12th.

“We really learned a lot here this week,” Mebes said. “The scores were like nothing we have seen before. At most matches we shoot, a 586 would win the whole thing. We have even won large regional matches with scores lower than that. Here, it seemed almost everyone was shooting in the mid-580s. That is what happens when you put the top 1 percent all in the same room. I am proud that Caitlyn was able to come here and hang tough with this group.”

Although the championship was an individual competition, Wa-Hi was presented the 2013 American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Trophy at the following awards banquet.

It is the first time Wa-Hi has won the award, which is presented to the top precision high school rifle team nationwide each year.

“What an amazing end to an incredible season,” Lasseigne said after the awards ceremony. “I can’t wait to get home and share the news with the rest of the team.”

A graduated senior, Lasseigne will attend Walla Walla Community College this fall.

She plans to keep shooting locally as an individual and hopes to shoot in college.

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