Mt. Pleasant tennis player Emily Marne on target in another sport

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Monday, September 27, 2021 | 8:13 PM


From the moment Emily Marne looked through a scope and fired a blast of air at a target from about 33 feet away, she knew rifle was going to be her sport.

“I asked, ‘Can I try that out?’ ” said Marne, who plays No. 2 singles for the Mt. Pleasant tennis team. “I fell in love with it.”

Love isn’t just for tennis.

Marne stands just 4 feet, 11 inches and speaks softly, but the unassuming junior could end up a Division I college athlete thanks to her marksmanship.

She is among the top shooters in the state, having placed third in the women’s division at last year’s Junior Olympic Rifle Championships. She attends numerous national-level competitions throughout the year.

Her cousin, Ethan Marne, piqued her interest after he earned a scholarship to shoot at Kentucky as a talented senior coming out of Mt. Pleasant in 2011. Kentucky is a nationally renowned rifle program that has won three NCAA titles.

Emily Marne, proficient from her first trigger pull, saw rifle as her path to college.

She enjoys tennis as a way to relax, but turning bull’s-eyes into Swiss cheese is her discipline.

“It’s such a great sport because it helps me mentally and with managing my time,” she said. “You have to put in the time and work at it all the time. You have to keep up your endurance.”

Marne shoots an air rifle and a .22 small-bore rifle. Both of the arms are only for competition. That is because there is no hunting in her foreseeable future.

“I don’t like to kill things,” she said. “It makes me feel bad when I see that.”

Physical training in the school’s weight room, where Aaron Hutter, an unofficial strength coach at Mt. Pleasant — and the girls’ first-year tennis coach — has helped Marne stay sharp by staying in shape.

Balance exercises, as well as core training, are vital to consistent shooting sessions.

“People don’t realize these shooters are in the same spot during a competition for an hour and 45 minutes sometimes,” said Scott Marne, Emily’s uncle and local coach. “Shooting is 90% mental and 10% physical, but it takes patience and focus. Emily has that mental part down. She can go long periods of time (in competition) without her attention waning.”

While her uncle trains her here, Marne also has a national coach in Lucas Kozeniesky, a silver medalist with teammate Mary Tucker at the recent Tokyo Olympics.

“We live-streamed the (Olympic) finals,” Emily said about waking up at 2 a.m. to tune in to the games. “It was so much fun to watch.”

Hutter said Marne is a pleasure to coach.

“Absolute first-rate kid,” he said. “She is willing to do all the things it takes to be successful. She is owning it, but she is a very humble kid.”

Scott Marne attends competitions with his niece. They recently went to the Civilian Marksmanship Program in Port Clinton, Ohio, and stopped by the shooting range at Akron before returning home.

Emily spends a lot of time at the East Huntingdon Sportsmen’s Club, where she trains regularly, but also practices at her uncle’s house, and at her own home with a SCATT training system.

She used to shoot sand bags, but technology has stepped up her game.

After all, her coach points out that a 10-ring dot is about the size of a period on a typewriter keyboard. Try hitting that without practice.

“It’s in my parent’s bedroom, and it has a laser that I shoot down the hallway,” she said of the SCATT targets.

Mt. Pleasant doesn’t have a rifle team, but Marne could compete as an individual during the winter season. She said her busy schedule probably would not allow it, but she isn’t ruling out the possibility, although she said the WPIAL just uses the prone position (laying down) while she prefers standing or kneeling.

Shooters also can compete while sitting.

Her cousins, Ethan and Noah, competed as individuals in WPIAL events when they were in high school.

“She is on Zoom calls three days a week and practices three-and-a-half hours a day for six days a week,” Scott Marne said. “We have events planned for November at West Virginia (University) and Anniston, Alabama. The Anniston trip is a 12-hour drive.”

Marne’s sister, Ashley, is a cheerleader at Delaware. Her younger brother, Santino, is an up-and-coming baseball and football player at Mt. Pleasant.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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