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Choe Wins Women’s Sport and Leverett Wins Men’s Air Pistol Titles at National Junior Olympics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (April 22, 2018)

The top qualifiers nationally for the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) in Women’s Sport Pistol and Men’s Air Pistol asserted their dominance all the way to the top of the NJOSC podium today as Sarah Choe and Jack Leverett III won gold in Women’s Sport Pistol and Men’s Air Pistol at the Olympic Shooting Center in Colorado Springs.

Choe (Los Angeles, California) was the top Women’s Sport Pistol qualifier nationally with a score of 573. She was also last year’s top qualifier and she earned a bronze medal at NJOSC in 2017. On both days of Qualification at this year’s match, Choe earned the highest score (571, 569) and won today’s Final to earn an additional eight points that would be added to her two-day total. 

“Even being ahead, it’s the same kind of pressure all the way to the end, just wanting to do your best,” Choe said modestly.

While the athletes competing at NJOSC had their sights set on earning medals and National Junior Team nominations, they were also competing for the chance to represent the United States at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship August 31 – September 14 in Changwon, South Korea. For more information on World Championship Team selection procedures for Junior athletes, click here

Katelyn Abeln (Douglasville, Georgia) took the silver today in the Women’s Sport Pistol competition. She was the 2017 NJOSC champion in this event and had already punched her ticket to the World Championship on the Open (adult) team with her finish in the two-part World Championship Team selection process.

“My shoulder hurt the whole match so it was a bit of a struggle, but I pulled through,” Abeln said.

Rounding out the top three was 15-year-old Abbie Leverett (Bainbridge, Georgia) who won bronze. Her trip to Changwon will become a family affair as Leverett will join her brothers, Jack and Henry, on the World Championship Team in South Korea this summer. Abbie Leverett’s second-place finish in the Final earned her enough additional points to move her into bronze-medal position.

“I’m very excited!” Abbie Leverett said. “I’ve never been out of the country so this is going to be really cool.”

Everyone competing at the NJOSC had to earn the right to compete at this prestigious match – 63% of Women’s Sport Pistol competitors and 46% of Men’s Air Pistol competitors nationally earned invitations, which were only sent to 763 athletes Rifle and Pistol athletes representing 49 states. These athletes were selected based on their finishes at the state-level Junior Olympic matches which totaled 2,408 competitors. 

In Men’s Air Pistol, Jack Leverett III (Bainbridge, Georgia) was the top qualifier for this match with a score of 571. On both days of Qualification, he too posted the highest scores for both days (566 and 577 – a world-class Junior score). Though he finished second in the Final to his brother, Henry, Jack Leverett III easily won the gold by a 23-point margin. He has also punched a ticket to the World Championship in the Open division in Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol.  

“I think going to World Championships this time is going to be really cool, especially since it’s all three of us this time,” Henry Leverett said. Henry won bronze today in Men’s Air Pistol and he and Jack were part of the 2017 Junior World Championship Team. “Just getting to see the same people we’ve seen there in the past, getting to shoot more at that international level, I think the first few times overseas was just getting used to international shooting. Now I think we’re actually ready to be way more serious about it.”

Taking silver in Men’s Air Pistol was Kyler Swisher (Jonestown, Pennsylvania). Swisher and Abbie Leverett will make their international competition debuts at the World Championship this summer.

“I’m looking forward to all of it for the World Championship,” said Swisher. “South Korea seems like it would be pretty cool!”

This year’s competition featured the new ISSF shooting format which means the Women’s Air Pistol events will now feature the same number of shots (60) as the men.

Also new this year was the introduction of the National Junior Paralympics. The Paralympic Rifle match featured all competitors who shared the line during the Air Pistol events. Winning gold today in R4 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2) was Gracie Hoyt (Mullen, Nebraska) and winning silver was Moira Antal (Bealeton, Virginia). Finals were not contested in this match as there were not enough competitors.

The NJOSC features the top 32 percent of all competitors in 2018, including invitees that either won their state championship or were selected based on a score they attained.  The competitors range in age from 10 to 20 years old, and are classified according to age as J1 (ages 18-20), J2 (ages 15-17) or J3 (ages 14 and younger).

Awards were also presented for the top finishers in the age categories. In Women’s Sport Pistol, the gold in J2 went to Maria Tsarik (Lake Bluff, Illinois), the silver went to Crystal Kim (Hacienda, California) and the bronze went to Kaitlin Slaubaugh (Wolford, North Dakota). In the J3 age category, the gold went to Angela Yi (Diamond Bar, California), the silver went to Clarissa Haltiwanger (Little Mountain, South Carolina) and the bronze went to the youngest competitor in the match, Annabell Yi (Diamond Bar, California).

In Men’s Air Pistol, the J2 gold went to Hunter Battig (Colorado Springs, Colorado). The silver went to Ryan Yi (Diamond Bar, California) and the bronze went to Bryston McPherson (Colorado Springs, Colorado).  In the J3 category, the gold went to Paul Kang (Los Angeles, California), the silver went to Ethan Lim (Rancho Cucamonga, California) and the bronze went to Ryan Chen (Mercer Island, Washington).

Complete results from the Pistol/Paralympic Rifle competition at NJOSC: http://www.usashooting.org/library/Competitions/0_2018/RP_JO/National_JO/Results/Pistol/Pistol_Day_2_Results.pdf.

Competition continues tomorrow at NJOSC with Men’s Sport Pistol, Women’s Air Pistol and R5 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2) with Finals for the Pistol events contested Tuesday afternoon.

Find links to schedules, start lists, scores and learn more about NJOSC at http://www.usashooting.org/7-events/njosc/njoscrifle

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National Shooting Sports Foundation