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Ricky Dimon

Riflery: Fort Benning hosts state championships Saturday

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Score Atlanta

The 2014 riflery state championship will take place on Saturday in Fort Benning, Ga. and the field is set. Twelve schools automatically qualified by winning their head-to-head semifinal matches. They are Allatoona, East Coweta, Elbert County, Lee County, Luella, Lumpkin County, North Forsyth, Northside-Columbus, Parkview, Riverside, Rutland and Ware County. Two teams earned wild-card spots as the top-scoring losers in the semifinals. They are Columbus (lost to Luella 1,141-1,138) and Upson-Lee (lost to Parkview 1,135-1,134).

Union Grove, which won the state championship in 2013, came close to seeing its title defense continue as either a semifinal winner or a wild card. The Wolverines lost 1,126-1,124 to Ware County and their point total was tied for fourth best with Tift County among the semifinal losers. Gainesville was the top team to see its proverbial bubble burst, as the Red Elephants scored 1,130 points in a loss to Northside-Columbus to get edged out by Columbus and Upson-Lee in their wild-card bid.

Luella and Lumpkin County are the only participating teams in 2014 who have won the state championship since 2007. That is the year Northside-Columbus wrapped up a streak of three consecutive titles. Luella captured its first state riflery trophy in 2010 and Lumpkin County prevailed for the first time in 2012.

East Coweta, looking for its first state title since 2000, was the highest-scoring team in the semifinals with 1,156 points. The Indians’ 1,155 points in a sectional win over Stephens County were good for the third-highest total of the state tournament. Lumpkin County has turned in the best performance thus far, as it overwhelmed McEachern with 1,163 points in its sectional match. The Indians notched 1,153 points in their semifinal defeat of Tift County.

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