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Rifle Team On Target

The Massapequa Varsity Rifle Team is in the midst of a very successful season. The team will head to the Nassau County championships next week, after finishing 9-1 in air rifle competition and winning the division title. The team also went 3-1 in smallbore competition with one match remaining. Alex Norden is in his eighth season as the coach of the team. He says a special combination of skills is necessary for success in this sport, which is also an Olympic event.

“You have to be mentally disciplined,” he says. “It’s all about you and being able to control your mind. You have to train your body to do something it doesn’t want to do which is to stand still.”

Shooters in air rifle competitions, aim at paper targets 10m away. Of the six shooters on the team, only one, Chris Esposito, is a senior. He has been an All-County shooter the past two years, and was also a state qualifier last year. His coach had praise for Esposito, who is also a team captain.

“He’s one of those rare kids at this age who just knows how to talk to people,” the coach said. “Often I use him as an assistant coach. I can have him help the other less experienced members.”

Thomas Sarant is the team’s other captain. Both he and Esposito are among the leaders in the county in air rifle. They both qualified for the Junior Olympics. Norden also had high praise for Sarant.

“He’s probably the most focused on the team,” he said. “He works at his craft harder than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Matt McKeown was also a state qualifier last year in small ball. His coach said that he is a very steady, levelheaded athlete who is very good at helping other members of the team.

These three young men comprise half of Massapequa’s Varsity Rifle Team, with three young ladies comprising the other half. One interesting aspect of this sport is that males and females compete on an equal level. Erin Kohler, a junior, is quite skilled in the sport. In addition, she is also a very accomplished viola player.

“Her discipline and dedication translates beautifully in being able to perform under pressure,” Norden says.

Completing the team are Julie Kapuveri and Melanie Valentin. Both are in their first season on the varsity team, and their coach has high praise for their ability. He says both of them have improved dramatically and contribute significantly to the team’s success. They also still have a great deal of potential, and since they are only in their first year, Norden is expecting them to get even better.

Indeed, both the present and the future, look very promising for the Massapequa Varsity Rifle Team.