PARLIER, Calif. (KFSN) --A big night for a Parlier High School student. The graduating senior competed in a junior ROTC air rifle competition a few weeks ago and brought home a huge win.
It was a surprise celebration for Cassandra Rodriguez. A crowd of people Thursday afternoon cheered the Parlier High School senior for placing first in a national junior ROTC air rifle competition in Anniston, Alabama a few weeks ago.
Her shooting score was written on this cake-- pinpointing just what she had to do to beat out more than 500 people to take home the gold.
"A lot of guys thought that they were the stuff and I come in and take out all of them and they look at me like, I got to focus more," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, a decorated Cadet Lieutenant Commander, said this accomplishment is one she spent countless hours working to achieve.
"I would have to get in there, concentrate, go through my shot plan, and get everything ready. A few years ago I thought I'd never be standing right here."
Her coach, Mark Bristol, choked up while talking about Rodriguez's dedication. He said she went from placing second in the same competition as a sophomore to ranking in the top 20 as a junior. Now, a year later, first in the nation. Putting the small town of Parlier on the national map.
"No, none knew who we were three years ago-- now we walk through a range and people go, no, Parlier is here-- so it's quite an accomplishment," said Bristol.
An accomplishment Alma Beltran knows well-- being the city's first female mayor.
"Being a female, it takes a lot to try to accomplish. Those are male dominated jobs and sportsmanship-- and so I'm very very proud of her, you know, this is so so amazing to see something like this here in Parlier."
Rodriguez said after graduation she will have a few months off before starting boot camp for the Marines in October.