Rifle Shoots Against Alumni, Honors Coach of 20 YearsBy John D. Blasco and Danny Yu
On Saturday, Oct. 19, the varsity pistol team hosted a preseason match against an alumni team featuring several former All-American shooters.
While the high level of competition prepares the team for tough upcoming matches against the service academies, the primary purpose of this fall's event was to honor the retiring pistol coach and range master Pasquale "Pat" Melaragno.
Melaragno has been a fixture within the MIT shooting community for the past 20 years. His varsity program has consistently fielded top-flight teams that compete against the service academies and schools that have strong ROTC shooting programs.
During this period, 15 shooters have been named to the national All-American team. Some of those shooters have been on the team multiple years. National collegiate and junior shooting records have regularly been broken at MIT over the years as well.
Success in the sport requires intense concentration, steady nerves and physical stamina, characteristics which are common within the MITstudent population.
In addition to the varsity program, Melaragno has taught thousands of students in his pistol physical education classes and has supervised the varsity and junior varsity teams during local shooting events.
Through his efforts, the MIT facility has become a key regional site for qualification matches that lead to national and international competitions, including the Olympics.
The pistol team has an unusually active alumni group that dates back to Ben Ball '48. Alumni regularly convene at MIT in the spring to compete with the varsity team prior to the national championships. Since several All-Americans invariably attend (in effect creating a pistol "dream team"), it is a tall order for the current varsity to achieve victory.
Saturday's match was special because of Melaragno's retirement. Over a dozen alumni, including five former All-Americans, were in attendance. The current and former team members as a group presented Melaragno with a collage of all the team pictures from the past 20 years as a memento of his dedicated service.
The match itself was as advertised. In air pistol, the alumni cardinal team defeated the varsity team by a score of 2214 to 2138, setting a new range record in the process. The alumni, all former All-Americans were paced by Joe Mayo '83 with a 558, and Dave Schaller '78 with a 556.
The varsity team was lead by current All-American Ben Leong '97 with a 551 and Myong-Sin Yi '98 with a 537. Yi is currently the reigning national champion in women's air pistol, a distinction she won at West Point this past spring.
In all, team members, past and present, were on hand to celebrate 20 years of success by a man who guided the team to excellence. In addition, the alumni had a chance to flex their muscles while the current team worked out potential glitches with valuable competition.
The team now fears the day when Melaragno can begin shooting with alumni teams in future. Not to look too far ahead, the varsity team is setting its sights on its first match of the season, which will be against the United States Coast Guard Academy the weekend of Nov. 8 to 9 at the pistol range.Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on Tuesday.
Volume 116, Number 54.
This story appeared on page 20.
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