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Finish Makes Women's Pistol Tops in Nation

By Danny Yu
Team Member

Both the men's and women's varsity pistol teams shot well at the Intercollegiate Pistol Championships in West Point, New York last week. The women's team finished the competition first in both its events, the .177 cal women's air pistol and .22 cal sport pistol. The finish makes the team the undisputed national champions for the 1995-96 season.

The men's team, which competes in .177 cal air pistol, .22 cal standard pistol, and .22 cal free pistol, fared almost as well, finishing fourth behind the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, and Sam Houston St. University.

Women take first place

Myong-Sin Yi '98 shot the top score to take the crown in women's air pistol, earning 362 points out of 400 in the preliminary round and 92.9 out of 100 in the finals round and becoming the first individual national champion from MIT in over five years.

The women's air pistol team, consisting of Yi, Jane Sohn '98, and Lina Chen '97, topped season rival Navy by an aggregate score of 1053-1035, out of a possible maximum of 1200 points on the 40-shot course. The event was particularly exciting in the 10-shot finals for the top eight individual shooters, as Yi overcame an early deficit with a string of tens on shots 5, 6, and 7 to gain the victory. Sohn finished sixth, while Chen and individual qualifiers Tracey Ho '99 and Evelyn Huang '99 were in the rest of the pack.

Made up of Huang, Sohn, and Yi, the women's sport pistol team topped the field again with an aggregate score of 1571 (60 shot course); the nearest team, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, scored 1559. Huang and Sohn placed sixth and seventh individually, with Huang shooting season and career highs to lead the team.

Men battle to fourth

In men's free pistol, the team of captain Ben Leong '97, Seth Webster '97, Jacques De Lalaing '97, and Danny Yu '98, finished a disappointing seventh out of a field of 10. Leong's Vostok free pistol malfunctioned early on, forcing him to use the less accurate semi-automatic standard pistol, resulting in a season-low.

Nerves beset the rest of the team, and the first event of the championships did not turn out as planned, with the team dropping from its pre-match seeding of third.

The next day featured the standard pistol event, where the team fared better. The team consisting of John Novak '96, Leong, Webster, and De Lalaing managed a fourth place finish, despite a malfunction of De Lalaing's pistol which forced four unfired zeros on his score.

Novak, who shot the second half of the season with an inflamed shoulder, and Webster turned in the team high scores, bringing the team to within 18 points (out of 2400) of third-place Coast Guard Academy.

On the last day, the men's air pistol team of Leong, Novak, De Lalaing, and Yu took fifth place with an aggregate score of 2127, shy of first place US Military Academy's score by 41 points. Leong, Novak, and De Lalaing turned in respectable but below-individual-average scores of 544, 535, and 533 respectively, helping the team edge out Texas A&M University for fourth place overall. Leong missed the cut for the finals by one point.

Awards recognize shooters

All-American and All-Star awards were given out at the championships. Leong and Novak were named as Second Team Air Pistol All-Americans, and Leong was also named to the Second Team All-American Free Pistol squad. Women's captain Sohn was named to the All-Star team in both women's Air and Sport Pistol, the dual designation shared by only five women shooters nationwide.

Last but not least, retiring coach Pat Melaragno was named as Distinguished Coach of the Year, an award reserved for one outstanding collegiate coach. The team looks optimistically towards next season, with no members graduating from this strong team.