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HIGH SCHOOL RIFLE: Indiana takes aim at rebound season

by ELI NELLIS on December 03, 2013 10:25 AM

John Hartman is coaching rifle for his 19th season.

“It’s a sport of concentration,” the Indiana High School coach said. “It’s a sport of patience. It’s got a lot of attributes as a sport that are so unique.”

The thing is, Hartman practices those qualities all the time in keeping the team running.

“It’s very difficult to teach teenagers patience and concentration,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been hard work. It’s two attributes that most teenagers don’t have.”

After a 2-13 season last year, Hartman maintains hope for 2013-14.

“With the team we have, we can be competitive,” he said. “Second place would be great. I’d take second place any day. The best chance we have is if we can pick off Butler at least twice and we can pick off Plum four times. That will put us somewhere around second place, and that’s all you need to be, because the top two from each section go to the (WPIAL) championship.”

To get there, Indiana will need strong performances from its 10 seniors and its six-to-eight established varsity shooters, two groups that have a lot of overlap.

“I’m relying on the ones that were pretty good last year, like Shyan (Dillon), Chantal (Sisko) and Breanna Rebo,” Hartman said. “They were my girls that were right at the top. Out of my boys, the Koystryks (Donald and Steven) have been coming along real hard. Cameron Nellis has been coming along real hard and Colton Finchum has definitely popped up there as well. I have maybe six, seven good shooters, but you need at least eight. To fill out the team you need 10, and you need at least eight good scores every night. I’m right on that edge again where I’ve got about seven good shooters, maybe eight.

“If I don’t get some miracle coming out of one of my beginning shooters, I don’t have a lot to pull from for my 10 shooting for score. That means everybody that came back has to produce.”

Indiana has a new assistant coach, Rick Gemmell, who was a shooter in the mid-‘80s when Hartman himself was an assistant.

“He was there in the heyday when the team had 40-some kids on it,” Hartman said. “I’m looking forward to him working with the kids and maybe bringing them up a step, getting them to the competitive stage.”

Gemmell joins Hartman in his long-time labor of love.

“I talk to kids in school all the time, trying to recruit them,” Hartman said. “The other thing I’ve been doing lately is, I have a club (in school), and the club brings enough interest that maybe I can get the kids in. Once you get the kids in there and they like it, they’re willing to join. This is one of the best sports there is. It’s truly co-ed. It’s adaptable to just about anything. … It’s the type of sport that most kids can do even if they might not be that physical kid that’s in a lot of strenuous activity. He or she can still do this.”

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