FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mid-Pacific's Jordan Muratsuchi is trying to become the first repeat Hawaii high school state championship winner in air riflery.
Shooting for the stars
Mid-Pacific's Muratsuchi gears up for next week's state tourney
Whether just before Brett Favre steps under center on a crucial fourth and goal, or while watching a slow-motion replay of a David Ortiz shot curling around Pesky's Pole at Fenway, it's been said many, many times.
"It's a game of inches."
Well if football and baseball are sports of inches, then air riflery is truly a sport of millimeters. With participants taking aim at a bull's eye about the size of a pin head from 33 feet away, there is no margin for error.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
MPI's Jordan Muratsuchi got into shooting at a young age at his grandparents' farm. His first target was an aluminum can.
On the Hawaii prep scene, few have been as precise as Mid-Pacific Institute's Jordan Muratsuchi. As a sophomore, Muratsuchi posted five performances of over 250 points during the regular season and capped his season by finishing second in the ILH championships with a 186 in the prone position.
Last season, Muratsuchi overcame an equipment change and battled through a tough regular season to finish eighth overall in the ILH tournament and fourth in the kneeling position to build momentum for a run at a state crown.
"Last season Jordan didn't have as good a season as he could have, but he really peaked at the state championships," Mid-Pacific coach Lincoln Jong said. "He changed rifles during the ILH season and it took him a while to get used to it. Then during the championships everything just flowed right into place."
At the Civilian Marksmanship Program/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Championships last year, Muratsuchi tallied 529 points at the Blaisdell Center to edge Punahou's Scott Hong for the gold medal. The competition actually ended in a deadlock, but as per championship rules, the last 10 shots of each athlete served as the tie-breaker. Muratsuchi's strong finish made the difference.
"It was a pretty mesmerizing experience," Muratsuchi said. "I didn't really expect to win states as a junior. I was excited when I figured out that I won and it was a really good moment for me. It made my day."
This year, Muratsuchi has continued to roll, earning a spot on the league's postseason All-Star squad after registering a string of 250-plus performances, including a 260-point showing against Kamehameha on Sept. 29.
Muratsuchi won the ILH individual crown in the prone position this past weekend after tallying 192 points of a possible 200. He finished fifth overall with 501 points.
"So far this season he's been one of the top shooters again," Jong said. "The state tournament is really competitive, with all of the top shooters in the state. One shot could make all the difference, but I think Jordan has a chance to do it."
The seeds of Muratsuchi's passion for riflery began at an early age, thanks to vacations spent on his grandparents' farm in the Pacific Northwest.
"I got into shooting at a young age," Muratsuchi said. "My grandpa (Red Delaney) owns several firearms, rifles, pistols on his farm up in Washington state, and he has a dirt berm where he used to set targets up for me.
"He started me out shooting at aluminum cans on sticks, and then we moved on to lemons on sticks, and eventually graduated to actual targets. When I got to high school, I saw they had riflery as a sport, so I tried it and got hooked."
With his distinguished high school shooting career winding to a close, Muratsuchi hopes to pursue a chemical engineering degree at the University of Michigan, and return to the roots of his love affair with guns.
"I think this will be the end of my competitive shooting career," Muratsuchi said. "I'm looking forward to going to the mainland for college, and I know engineering will take a lot of time and focus. But I hope to have time to hunt water fowl and maybe do some recreational target shooting."
But first, Muratsuchi will make a run at becoming the state's first two-time champion. Since the HHSAA began hosting state championship air riflery events in 1999, there has never been a repeat winner on the boys or girls side.
Muratsuchi will defend his title Tuesday at the Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall.
"Shooting against 59 of the best shooters in the state is tough, and it'll be really hard to beat everyone out twice," Muratsuchi said. "But you gotta shoot for the moon, you have to want to be the best. In air riflery, it could always come down to one shot and I'll be happy as long as it goes to the best shooter that day."