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Wadena eighth-grader advances to state Hoop Shoot contest

Photo by Dana Pavek/WDC Schools. Rylie Langer is an eighth-grade student at Wadena-Deer Creek High School.

Sinking 21 of 25 free throws, Wadena-Deer Creek eighth-grader, Rylie Langer, claimed a first-place trophy in the 12-13 age division at the Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest Jan. 28 in Brainerd. Langer advances to the State Elks Hoop Shoot Contest in Hutchinson, Minn., on Feb. 11.

Langer said she's been practicing at least an hour a day on her free throws to prepare for the state competition. Riley has been playing basketball for as long as she can remember and it's her favorite sport. She's excited for the competition and is appreciative of a strong support system from her WDC basketball coaches, Keith Ferris, Wendy Gravelle, Luke Sturm and Nicole Schumacher.

"Wendy [Gravelle] told me to 'Use my legs, follow through and you'll do great!' All my coaches have been supportive of me. They've been awesome," said Langer.

Her WDC basketball teammates are also cheering for Langer. In fact, there is one WDC varsity player who Langer has admired since Kindergarten for her basketball prowess, Avery Jackson.

"I look up to her a lot," said Langer. "I want to be like her when I get older and to play college basketball like she's going to do."

If Langer does well at the state competition, she will advance to the Regional Hoop Shoot Contest in Iowa City, Iowa held March 9-11. From there, the National Hoop Shoot Finals is in Springfield, Mass., on April 26-29.

The Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest is the largest and most visible of the many youth activities sponsored by Elks Lodges. Wadena's Elks Lodge #2386 hosted the local contest for Wadena and area youths in mid-January.

Rylie is the daughter of Mark Langer and Stacy Langer of Wadena.