CANONSBURG – Kayla Huffman didn’t let anything, not even mono or the flu, keep her from practicing this season.
The Trinity junior’s hard work and dedication paid off Thursday at the WPIAL Rifle Individual Championships.
Huffman shot a 200-19x and advanced past McGuffey’s Courtney Stiles via tiebreaker to take second place at the Dormont/Mt. Lebanon Sportsmen’s Club.
Though she didn’t win – that honor went to Hempfield’s Abbie Bache – the outcome was infinitely more exciting than the first two months of the season, when Huffman battled through mononucleosis and a lengthy bout with the flu.
The stretch was so severe that it forced Huffman into a compressed school schedule that included mostly half-days, only essential classes after lunch.
But it didn’t take her away from practice.
“Pale as a ghost, she’d curl up in a blanket, lay down and shoot 100,” Trinity statistician Katie Krocsko said. “Then she’d curl up and go back to sleep.”
Huffman didn’t dispute how Krocsko described it.
It was practice, she figured. No way could she miss that.
“I made it a priority to be there,” Huffman said. “As dead as I was, I made sure I got down there and shot.”
Huffman’s score represented a swift turnaround for Trinity from its performance during Tuesday’s Team Championships, when the Hillers finished a disappointing fifth.
“Especially after we didn’t do so well in the team match, it’s a little bit rewarding that the individuals did well,” Trinity coach John Husk said. “The team score wasn’t as high as we expected it to be.”
Huffman, along with everyone who finished in the top 14, advanced to next week’s Pennsylvania State Scholastic Championships at Frazier-Simplex.
The top four teams – Hempfield, Woodland Hills, McGuffey and Avella – also made it.
Bache won the title after nabbing eight center shots, five on her second target alone.
The score comes two days after Bache was the only one Tuesday to shoot a perfect score: 100-10x.
“I knew my score. Then when they got to 200-19x, I was listening for center shots because I knew I had eight,” Bache said. “When they said ‘second place, five,’ I was hiding behind Alex (Thomas) because I thought I was going to cry.”
Bache was still shaking afterward – probably better than shaking during her relay.
“Props to her,” Huffman said of Bache. “If you can do that with all this pressure, you have a good shot. That’s crazy.”
Stiles was third with two center shots on her second target to Huffman’s three.
Plum’s Melissa Leclair was fourth, followed by Hempfield’s Keegan Miller and McGuffey’s Casadi Stainbrook.
Tyler James Miller (seventh) and Casey Doyle (15th) gave Trinity three shooters among the top 15.
None with a better turnaround than Huffman, who missed her entire sophomore season with a concussion.
“She shot a good score when she needed it,” Husk said of Huffman. “She’s been sick most of the year. She was struggling at the beginning of the year; she had a sore throat, mono, high fever. She missed a lot of school. But she’s 100 percent now.”