CONWAY — Rachel Prall of Conway St. Joseph is an international free-throw champion.
Rachel, 14, a freshman, advanced through local, district and state competitions to become one of 17 winners of the Knights of Columbus International Free Throw Championship for 2013. She joined Nick Colopy of Marysville, Ohio, and Hannah Thiele of Wahoo, Neb., as 14-year-old winners.
The other 14 winners were ages 10-13.
Rachel is just the second Conway athlete to earn the international honor, joining Keith Briggler, a 1986 St. Joseph graduate. She is the only Arkansas winner since at least 2011. The competition began in 1972.
“I was pretty excited,” Rachel said.
In the local competition at St. Joseph earlier this year, she made 12 of 15 free throws to advance to the next round at Sacred Heart in Morrilton.
She pronounced that effort “all right.”
“I just made sure I warmed up before I shot and made sure my form was correct,” she said of her strategy.
At Sacred Heart, she hit 22 of 25 to advance to the state competition back at St. Joseph.
“I just tried to make them and not think about anything else,” she said of her effort there.
Back at home for state, she made 24 of 25 free throws to win her age division and move on to the international level.
“A basket’s a basket, but I’m used to shooting in that gym,” she said. “I was pretty happy with my score.”
Her only miss came about three-quarters of the way through her 25 shots.
According to a press release, the state scores were then compared with competitors in the other 49 states and several foreign countries where Knights of Columbus councils exist. Rachel’s score of 24 placed her among the top shooters in the world.
Knights of Columbus State Deputy Mike Kieffer of Jacksonville presented Prall with her trophy during services July 27 at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Rachel’s father, Mike, said this was his daughter’s fourth year to enter the competition. Beginning this year, the contest is open to youth ages 9-14.
“The first year she didn’t get past the first go-round, but this year it seemed like everything kind of flowed,” he said. “I’m very proud of her.”
Rachel will be a 5-foot-11 post player for Chris Kordsmeier’s junior Lady Bulldogs.
“If I get the chance to shoot them, I try my best to make them,” she said.
Kordsmeier called her “a hard worker who is always looking to improve.”
“I am very proud of her accomplishment on winning the national free-throw contest,” he said. “I know our school and church are proud of her as well.”
Rachel, who said she and her dad have played basketball in their driveway since she was about 7, has been at St. Joseph throughout her academic career. She started playing basketball there in the fifth grade.
She also will play volleyball this fall for Luke Davis’ Lady Bulldogs. Her sister Natalie, a senior, is a cheerleader for St. Joseph.