Punxsy Third Grader to Compete at Elks Hoop Shoot National Competition in Chicago

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – Samantha Griebel, a third grader at Saints Cosmas and Damian School in Punxsutawney will be competing in the national Elks Hoop Shoot free-throw competition April 14-17 in Chicago.

(Photo of Samantha Griebel (left) and her sister, Danielle, after the state competition in Bellefonte. Samantha won the state competition for 8- and 9-year olds while Danielle, who was the 8- and 9-year old champion last year, took second in the 10- and 11-year old division this year. Submitted photo)

Samantha hit 21 of 25 free throws at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals held Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre.

It was the fourth leg of the journey for Samantha, who started out by hitting 18 of 25 charity shots (the 8- and 9-year old division shots from 11 feet) at the local competition in Punxsutawney and then hit 19 of 25 in the West Central District of Pennsylvania in Kittanning before going to a triple-shootout after tying with another girl. In the triple shootout, she hit 4 out of 5 then 5 of 5 and 4 of 5 to advance to the state-level, which was held at Bellefonte High School. At the state level she hit 20 of 25 free throws to advance to the Regionals.

Samantha will now join 11 other regional champions for the national championship being held at Roosevelt University’s Goodman Center in Chicago.

No stranger to free-throw competition, Samantha actually won the 2015 Knights of Columbus State Championship last year when she was too young to compete in the Elks competition.

And free-throw shooting competitions are really a family thing for the Griebels.

Last year, Samantha’s older sister Danielle made it to the Elks National competition in Springfield, Mass. in the 8- and 9-year old division as a 9-year old. She was 18 of 25 at locals and districts and 23 of 25 at state before going 22 of 25 at the regionals. She then hit 20 of 25 at the national competition.

“It was pretty cool having two champs under the age of 10 in the same bedroom,” Samantha’s dad Stephen Griebel said.

Moving up an age bracket this year, Danielle again got out of the local and district levels shooting from the normal regulation-free-throw line of 15 feet.

She hit 23 of 25 at the local competition and then 18 of 25 at the West Central District before finishing as the state runner-up hitting 20 of 25.

Samantha and Danielle’s older sisters, Emily and Katelyn, have also made it to states either in the Knights of Columbus or the Elks competition.

Emily, the older, made it the Knights of Columbus regionals two or three times according to her dad, and Katelyn, the second oldest, has made it to state for the Elks in the 8- and 9-year old division and went to the Knights of Columbus State Competition three straight years placing fifth, third and second with the second-place finish coming last year.

“I coach their elementary team,” Stephen said when asked how the girls got involved in the competition. “Our older girls started shooting in the Knights of Columbus competition and then Katelyn started doing the Elks. Then Danielle sort of broke the seal with getting to nationals last year.”

Stephen Griebel, who is now an ophthalmologist in Punxsutawney, grew up on Fifth Avenue in Clarion and went to Immaculate Conception School before graduating from Clarion-Limestone.

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