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Blue Devil’s JROTC rifle team advances to state rifle championship

Four cadets from the Holmes County High School JROTC rifle team competed and placed during the Area 11 Regional Rifle Championships held at the old elementary school building in Bonifay Nov. 18.

It was a cold day and the heat didnÂ’t work in the building, but the Blue Devil cadets turned the heat on as they secured the final spot in the Florida State Rifle Championship to be held in January.

Commander of the Blue DevilÂ’s rifle team, cadet 2nd Lt. Sophia Pollard is a sophomore this year. She is a returning cadet to the squad from last yearÂ’s Blue DevilÂ’s rifle team. Pollard is ranked 78th out of 1,876 JROTC riflemen in the state.

Prior to the Area 11 Regional Rifle Championships, she led the team in scoring the highest during practices averaging above 220 points. She scored 211 out of 300 points to help the Blue Devils finish above the cadets from the Crestview High School JROTC program and to earn another trip down south to the Florida State Championships in January.

Cadet Cpl. Andrew DePalma led the team with a score of 231 points. DePalma is a senior this year and decided he wanted to join the DevilÂ’s rifle team. He has been working hard during practice, and his rifle scores have been improving each week. Prior to the regional championship, DePalma recorded his individual highest score of 243 points. Hopefully he will be able to assist the DevilÂ’s rifle team with his marksmanship skills on Jan. 28 when the Devils travel to Cape Coral to shoot in the state championship.

Cadet Sgt. Colton Jones also returns from last yearÂ’s Blue DevilÂ’s rifle team. Jones is ranked 92nd out of 1,876 JROTC riflemen in the state. He is working hard at his rifle marksmanship fundamental skills to shoot above 200 points this year which he has accomplished in practice twice. Although, the Florida State Rifle Championships is another story when it comes to shooting. Jones will have to fight off the jitters of shooting around the best of the best in the state.

Cadet Robert Tart is another sophomore on the rifle team. He continues to improve each week with his marksmanship skills and has shot over 200 points on a couple occasions. He also contributed a score of 196 during the regional championship. This was his first head-to-head competition, and he is looking forward to being able to help assist the Blue Devils as they continue to work hard at their rifle marksmanship shooting skills as they advance to the next level.

“It’s an honor to work at my alma mater and represent the United State Army,” said 1st Sgt. Randy Burlew. “I enjoy it when my JROTC cadets get a chance to make precious memories when traveling to state competitions.”

Out of 469 rifle teams in the state, the Blue DevilÂ’s JROTC rifle team ranked 21st last year. Three of the four cadets from last yearÂ’s state rifle team are still with us. This is the 15th year the Blue DevilÂ’s rifle team has accomplished securing a spot at the Florida State Rifle Championships.

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