by Digby Hand
A leaden sky and a soaking rain, which was too late to help save the local tomato crop, greeted the competitors setting up for the Fall Foliage Regional at Hopkinton Sportsmen’s Association on October 4th. Either chance or the Machiavellian machinations of the match director saw the heavy hitters occupying the far right hand end of the line, next to the strategically placed free coffee and doughnuts.
New Jersey rifleman Bill Neff set the pace for the iron sight day with a 400-34X in the opening 50 Yard match. He was closely followed by junior Brian Jylkka’s 33X clean as well as perfect scores from Erik Hoskins, Justin Tracy, and Claudia Duksa. Neff rolled through the Meter Match with a 400-34Xs, with a clean from Duksa keeping up the pressure while Hoskins and Tracy each dropped a point. By this time, defending Knapp Trophy winner Hap Rocketto, was already into the free doughnuts to ease the pain of dropping enough points to place a repeat out of reach.
Tracy, a member of the United States Roberts Team, shot the only 400 in the Dewar. With the metallic sight title on the line, Neff, Hoskins, Tracy, and Duksa went into the 100 yard match down one point. Tracy was on a roll and again shot the only perfect score giving him a 1599-112X for the win. Neff was second posting a 1598-119X while Duksa survived a disastrous 100 yards, where she dropped six points, to hang onto third with a 1593-11X, just 12 Xs ahead of her father Rich. Hoskins also stumbled equally badly at 100 for a 1592-106 on the day. Jylkka closed out the top finishers with a 1590-114X.
”Where this is scope there is hope,” is the old shooting mantra that kept everyone on their toes and hope alive as the second day of the match began under clear skies. Tracy picked up where he left off and shot a near perfect 400-39X, one X ahead of Duksa and two on Hoskins. While it has been said that a nine on scope day on the 50 yard target has fathered more lies than all of the tax codes in history, Neff took his in stride. Neff was overheard after the 50 yard match saying “well if I can’t go clean today, I’m going to see how many Xs I can shoot!” Tracy again posted a 400-39X, this time in the Meter Match, while Neff showed that one misstep would not deter him as he posted a 400-32x. Hoskins and Duksa both dropped a point.
There were plenty of 400s in the Dewar match with Hoskins leading the pack with 38Xs followed by Tracy with 36Xs and Jylkka and Chet Ruscio with 34Xs. As the 100 yard Match began Tracy was cruising along in his sighter when, on the sixth shot, there was a ‘poof’ sound when he squeezed the trigger and his shot of Eley Black dropped into the five ring at 6 o’clock in his first record bull! His chance of winning the match disappeared as fast as the smoke from his barrel in the wind. To his credit he carded a 200-18X on his second card. Ruscio’s 400-33X won the 100 yard match with Erik Hoskins and Jeff Doerschler each shooting a 400-32X for second and third respectively. Hoskins rebounded from a less than satisfactory iron sight score to win the any sight match with a 1599-140X. Duksa was second with a 1599-130X while Neff was third, posting a 1599-127X.
Neff, shooting his “steam powered Winchester 52,” emerged the winner of the regional with an outstanding 3197-246X. Tracy had built up enough padding to stay in the running after his bit of bad luck, and was awarded the silver medal for his 3193-257X while Duksa, the reigning Connecticut State Champion, took home bronze with a 3192-248X.
Below is a complete list of placements:
First Place Overall – William Neff 3197.246
Second Place Overall – Justin Tracy 3193.257
Third Place Overall – Claudia Duksa 3192.248
First Place Marksman – Sarah MacLagen 3139.148
First Place Sharpshooter – Megan Polonsky 3183.196
First Place Expert – Richard Duksa 3191.239
First Place Master – Erik Hoskins 3191.246
First Place Woman – Megan Polonsky 3183.196
First Place Senior – Chet Ruscio 3186.218
High Metallic Sights – Justin Tracy 1599.112
High Any Sights – Erik Hoskins 1599.140
First Sub Junior – Timothy Kraft 3165.174
Second Sub Junior – Kyle Letentre 3062.097
Third Sub Junior – Katelyn Kraft 2942.043
First Int Junior – Brian Jylkka 3187.241
Second Int Junior – Megan Polonsky 3183.196
Third Int Junior – Jacob Costa 3173.187
First Junior – Alex Zadrozny 3177.188
Second Junior – Kim Coffey 3168.167
Third Junior – Jessica Levine 3167.170