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Prep Talk Girls Athlete of the Week: Emily Szymanski of Alden

Just like in bowling, a 300 is a perfect score in rifle. Even so, there's a lot less margin for error in rifle than bowling. All it takes is movement of less than inch on the target, and a score of 10 can turn into an 8. A score of 290, then, translates to 20 shots that hit the tiny bull's-eye in the middle of the target, and 10 shots that just miss and earn nine points instead of 10.

That's about what Emily Szymanski did for Alden High School last week. And it came on Jan. 19 in a big match against Lancaster, one of the Bulldogs' top rivals. Every point mattered, as Alden squeezed out an 1,138-1,132 win over the Legends. Hers was the highest score by one of the Alden team members this season.

That's mighty good shooting when it matters the most. We salute her as the Prep Talk Girls' Athlete of the Week.

Class: Junior.

Coach Art Eggink on Emily: "She's been with the rifle team since freshman year. Last year her high was a 237, and she's jumped more than 50 points this year. We've never had a girl shoot a 290 before. Emily's also an amazing student. She's always in an extremely good mood, and she's a very positive person. She always tries to do as much as she can for the team."

Tell us about your week: "The week's been very slow with Regents week. Students were panicking for their exams."

How has your season gone so far: "So far we've been almost undefeated, so we've had a good year. We have two coaches that push us."

Highlight of athletic career to date: "Throughout my four years of being on the team, my first year as a whole was a highlight. It taught me how a team worked."

Favorite thing about my sport: "I love my team. I'd honestly be nowhere without them. I love the closeness we have, kind of like a family."

Favorite teammate and why: "It's hard to choose a single person over everyone else. It's a team sport. I learn different things from every team member."

Toughest opponent: "Clarence has always been a tough team to beat."

WNY athlete I looked up to: "Back when he was going to school here, Noah Fox was the top shooter. He was naturally gifted, and I respected his abilities."

When I'm not playing or practicing my sport, I'm: "Doodling, drawing, relaxing at home, or spending family time."

What's ahead: "I plan to continue my artistic-based classes."

Attention, coaches: If one of your athletes has an outstanding week, you can nominate him or her for Prep Talk Athlete of the Week. Send an email outlining the person’s achievements by Saturday night, and we’ll consider him or her for the week’s honor.

Prep Talk Boys Athlete of the Week: Nathaniel Davis of Sweet Home

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