A Shooting Star
SWCS Grad Hanson Part Of Army’s NCAA Tourney-Bound Rifle Team
I first sat down to interview Clayton Hanson when he was a sophomore at Southwestern Central School.
At only 16, he was already making a name for himself nationally with his marksmanship prowess.
In fact, Hanson had been shooting for all of three years when we chatted at his Busti home in 2015. The meeting came on the heels of him hitting the trifecta of sorts when he captured state and regional titles at the Jamestown Rifle Club, which earned him a gold medal and qualified him for a Junior Olympic invite at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. in April of that year. He then followed that up by shooting a 400 — he was perfect in the prone, standing/offhand, and kneeling disciplines — at the club’s Busti-Stillwater Road headquarters.
“Out of 40 teams this year only one person, maybe two people, out of the whole northeast have shot a 400,” Clayton’s father, Todd, told me that day. “Even the best shooters only shoot two or three their entire lives, if they’re lucky.”
There appeared to be no luck involved in the resume that Clayton was putting together.
“I really like it,” he told me before I left his home that day. “When I go out there, there’s always room for improvement, there’s always so many things you can change. I think I’m pretty good at adapting to a situation.”
Fast-forward almost exactly four years.
Hanson, now a sophomore on the Army West Point rifle team, is making history.
After a program record-setting performances in its NCAA qualification match last Saturday, the squad has qualified to compete at the NCAA Championships next month.
This marks the first time that Army has qualified for the event as a team since the 2013-14 season.
“W are all pretty excited to make the NCAAs this year,” head coach Web Wright said on the school’s website Tuesday night. “The team really came together when i counted and they should be really proud about that.”
The NCAAs will be held in Morgantown, West Virginia, beginning on March 8, with five participants being designated from each team. Eight additional participants from non-qualifying teams have also been selected to bring the total number of participants to 48. The top four scores from each team will be counted towards the championship total.
Selection for the NCAA Championship was determined by taking the average of the team’s three highest aggregate point totals of the season and adding it to the team’s program record-setting score from the NCAA Qualification match last Saturday. The Black Knights’ point total has earned them the seventh seed.
“We set a program record last Saturday, but I know we have more in us,” Wright said. “I am really looking forward to this.”
Hanson will likely play a key role, just like he did in the qualification match.
In setting a program-record aggregate score (4,678), Hanson, a sophomore co-captain, had the team’s top score with an 1,173. He and a teammate tied for second in air rifle with a 594 on the way to the team setting another Army record with 2,377. And, finally, in smallbore, Hanson had the team’s top score with a 579.
Before heading to Morgantown, the Black Knights will participate in the Great America Rifle Conference Championship in Akron, Ohio on Friday and Saturday.
But there’s more.
Competing earlier this year in the New York State/USA Junior Olympic Rifle & Pistol Championships, Hanson took first place in New York in both men’s air and smallbore while also securing automatic invitations to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
“I don’t know where he placed in the country,” Todd Hanson said of his son, “but that was his personal best.”
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Zac Levenstein is also making headlines.
The 2017 Southwestern Central School graduate is a sophomore at Coastal Carolina University and a defenseman on the school’s club ice hockey team.
Only in its sixth season, the team captured its first Division III championship in school history.
In 13 games, Levenstein collected three assists and four penalty minutes. He is majoring in marketing and professional golf management.
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Zack Panebianco (Jamestown/Jamestown) completed his basketball career at SUNY Geneseo over the weekend, highlighted by a 29-point effort against Cortland on Friday.
In 31 minutes, Panebianco shot 11 of 15 from the field, including 4 of 5 from the arc; and made 3 of 4 free throws.
For the season, the senior guard surpassed 20 points on six different occasions, including a season-high 31 against Oswego on Nov. 30. His per-game averages were 14.6 points — he shot 43.4 percent from the floor and 82 percent from the foul line — 2.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists as the Knights finished 8-17 on the season.
As a junior, Panebianco averaged 13.4 points per game and a team-high 3.6 assists per game.
In two years at Roberts Wesleyan and two at Geneseo, Panebianco finished his collegiate career with 1,307 points, which almost equaled his high school total of 1,332.
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Chrisanna Green (Jamestown/Jamestown), a junior forward at Virginia State University, is averaging a team-best 15.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. She has scored in double figures in 23 of 24 games and has had double-digit rebound games eight times.
Her best offensive showing was a 30-point outburst at Livingstone on Jan 12. The Trojans are 11-13 at last report.
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Army sophomore wrestler Ryan Hetrick (Bemus Point/Maple Grove) defeated Luke Resnick of Lehigh at 135 pounds, 4-2, to improve his record to 10-7 on the season.
Two weeks ago, Hetrick, wrestling in his first official start, placed third at the All-Academy Championships in Norwich, Vermont, finishing with a 3-1 record. In that event, he pinned his first opponent form Norwich and then beat Derek Shockey from VMI, 5-0, and Anthony New from the Citadel, 4-3. Hetrick also claimed his first dual-meet win with a 3-1 overtime victory over Derek Campbell from Bucknell to help Army win, 22-19.
Shane Hetrick (Bemus Point/Maple Grove), Ryan’s younger brother, recently competed in his first marathon at Charleston, South Carolina. Finishing first in his age group (19-and-under) and 19th overall in a field of 1,056 competitors, Shane posted a time of 3 hours, 8 minutes.
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James Rojas (Jamestown/Jamestown) is averaging 17.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in helping Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College to a 22-6 overall record, including 13-6 in the conference.
In 22 games played — he has missed six games — Rojas is shooting 49.6 percent from the field, 35 percent from beyond the arc and 78 percent from the foul line.
Last Monday in a win over Pratt, Hutchinson CC became the first NJCAA men’s basketball program to reach the 1,800-win plateau. The Blue Dragons also reached 20 wins for the 53rd time in program history. In that milestone victory, Rojas scored a game-high 24 points, including 8 of 9 from the free-throw line, to go along with nine rebounds.
Rojas will be headed to the University at Buffalo, the 25th-ranked team in the country, beginning in the 2019-20 season. Bryan Hodgson (Jamestown/Jamestown) is an assistant coach for the Bulls.
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Andrew Sisson (Jamestown/Jamestown), a sophomore at Buffalo State, was named to the fall dean’s list with a 3.93 grade-point average.
A childhood education, elementary education, literacy and leadership major, Sisson is also a member of the Bengals’ football team. Last season he was the starting center for seven games and played in eight contests.