This question has plagued me every since my sophomore year when I first joined it. The answer is yes, Waukegan High School does have a Rifle Team, and it’s a shame that so few people know about it. In WHS history, there has been no sport, which has won more medals, and trophies for the school than the Rifle Team have. Not basketball, not football, and not wrestling, it is Rifle Team, which holds the most trophies. I can hear you already, “But if they’ve won so many trophies, why don’t we see them?” Well tell you the truth, I don’t know. For some reason, no one wants to display the Rifle Team’s trophies and they are all in the Rifle Range, gathering dust where no one can see them. And just to clear up any confusion, no, it isn’t the JROTC’s Armed Drill Team that spins around plastic rifles in different routines, we are Waukegan High School’s 10-meter Air Rifle Team. We shoot as they do in the Olympics and do our best to one day be a part of them.
Just a few weeks ago we took the three-hour trip down south to compete in the Jim Kincade Memorial Tournament. We had packed all our gear into the school’s new bus the day before and headed off early in the morning. We spent the time like anyone else, goofing off, laughing, listening to music, and sleeping. And as we arrived in Streator, Illinois, the kind people organizing the event greeted us. We stood at the door with some of us excited, others nervous, and all of us prepared to give it our all. When it was our turn to set up for the first relay we got our equipment and rifles out and waited to begin. As the first shot was fired we knew we were in for a good time. After two 2 hour relays our Varsity and Junior Varsity were done and all that was left was to wait for the results.
In the end, we once again held up our reputation and won both 2nd and 3rd place in the competition. 2nd place went to yours truly and 3rd was won by John Bahena. Shortly behind in 4th came our very own Karen Lagunas and in 8th place came our fourth Varsity shooter, Michael Dudley. However, it was not only the Varsity which gave it their all, our Junior Varsity did an impressive job as well. Our highest JV shooter for the competition was Kimberly Ortega, but on that day every JV shooter gave it their all, and that was we could have asked for.
On our way back we were ecstatic and celebrated with more joking and laughing like one big family. And that is exactly what we are, a family. Because despite not being very well known, our team of little over 15 members is more than happy as is and we practice every day so that hopefully we’ll take our school back to the State Championships one year (hopefully this one) and fully reclaim our former glory. And while it may seem like an easy task to hold a rifle and fire it at a target down range, it isn’t until you feel the instability for yourself and learn what kind of difficulty there is in such a feat that you can truly appreciate what all these great shooters are doing on a daily basis.