Taboada on target for Wolf Pack
There’s a good reason why Leah Taboada didn’t go out for the University of Nevada rifle team. She didn’t know one existed.
“I didn’t know they had one,” said Taboada, a 2006 Carson High graduate. When she found out about the possibility of joininig the rifle team, Taboada said, “‘Yes, I think that would be a great opportunity.'”
Taboada, who’s a junior academically, and a sophomore eligibility-wise for the Wolf Pack rifle team, quickly worked her way into the starting lineup this season. In NCAA competition, four shooters take part in air rifle and four shooters take part in small bore. All of the eight scores are counted and the team with the highest score is the winner.
While shooters can take part in both air rifle and small bore, Tabadoa participates in just air rifle. Nevada coach Fred Harvey has to decide which shooters’ scores will count before the competition begins, but he chooses not tell his shooters who he has chosen until after the competition.
After Nevada took second in the Horned Frog Invitational at TCU to open the season, Nevada opened its dual season against Nebraska. Taboada had her highest score of the season, scoring 591 out of 600, but Harvey didn’t chose Tabadoa to be in the competition for that match.
Taboada has been in the lineup ever since and has consistently scored in the 585-587 range. She has earned a spot in the lineup after not seeing any action last season during her sophomore year.
Nevada has concluded the fall portion of its schedule and will resume action on Jan. 25 against UTEP. The Wolf Pack will then compete in the NCAA Championship qualifier on Feb. 14 at UTEP for the right to be in the NCAA Championships on March 13 and 14.
“I think we’ll make it,” said Taboada about the NCAA Championships. “I know we have the talent to do it.”
Taboada said it’s just a matter of the team putting it all together in both the air rifle and small bore.
“We’re really good at one or the other,” she said. “Overall I think we’re doing pretty well. Everybody’s giving it their all. For the most part I think everybody’s really consistent.”
When Taboada came out for the team, she made it clear that academics came first. “I told him that grades come first,” said Taboada about what she told Harvey.
“He wants us to graduate as well. That seems to be the coaches’ No. 1 priority,” said Taboada about academics. “It’s not all about the shooting.”
And Taboada has maintained a 3.89 grade point average in business management, earning just one B early in her college career. “That B just keeps haunting me,” she said.
Taboada is keeping her options open. She’s on track to graduate in 41⁄2 years. “With summer school, I can probably squeak it out,” said Tabadoa about graduating in four years.
If she returns to Nevada for a fifth year, she could continue to be on the rifle team when she would be a senior eligibility-wise. She said earning a MBA also is a possibility.
Another possiblity after school is to join the military, most likely the Marines. Taboada got her Naval background from participating in he Naval Junior ROTC program at CHS where she was part of one of the nation’s top rifle programs.
During her senior year, Carson could boast of being an unofficial national champion as it was the top Naval JROTC rifle team in the nation. The team also won the Nevada State Championship, finished 11-0 in the Washoe Rifle League, was the West Coast’s top Naval Junior ROTC rifle program and finished four overall in the country among all military ROTC rifle teams.
Taboada finished 14th at the National Junior ROTC Air Rifle Championships. She said she’s still making the adjustment from high school to college.
“We didn’t have any of the fancy equipment,” said Taboada about high school. “We just went up in jeans and a sweatshirt and shot. I’m kind of learning as I’m going.”
Taboada considered attending the United States Naval Academy, but decided to attend Nevada. “UNR was an option I thought would be my best plan,” she said.
Since Nevada has just an Army ROTC program, it’s obvious why she didn’t want to join that program with her Naval background. “I can still go to the military if I wanted to,” she said.