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Men’s Air Rifle Champs Crowned at National Junior Olympics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (April 8, 2017)

The first medals were awarded today at the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships on the Olympic Training Center campus in Colorado Springs. Along with Junior Olympic glory, today’s Men’s Air Rifle winners also earned appointments to the National Junior Team, as well as the team that will compete at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship in Changwon, South Korea later this summer.

Top honors went once again to reigning Men’s Air Rifle National Junior Olympic Champion Logan Ogden (Galway, New York). The Air Force Academy sophomore has been dominating Men’s Air Rifle competition as of late, consistently posting world-class scores, as well as winning the Winter Airgun Championships in December and the Open-level overall selection process for the World Championship Team.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Ogden said. “Felt like I didn’t have too much time to practice before – had some classes to take care of – but knowing that I had already earned a World Championship Team slot took a little of the pressure off. I’m looking forward to getting to know more of the World Championship Team and building friendships with these guys.”

Before the Finals even started, Ogden has already secured a medal with his two-day Qualification score. Today’s win marks Ogden’s second National Junior Olympic title and his first appearance at a World Championship.

Making his sixth National Junior Olympics appearance and taking the silver medal was 16-year-old Will Shaner (Colorado Springs, Colorado). He too had secured a medal prior to today’s Final with his Qualification score alone. Shaner’s second-day Qualification score of 624.7 is a world-class Junior score. His trip to South Korea will mark his third World Championship Team appearance.

“This match just turned out to hit me at a good time, hit me at my peak, so it turned out really good for me!” Shaner said. “I’m just really looking forward to having this experience on the World Championship Team and making the most of it.”

Ogden and Shaner both competed at the Open-level (Adult) Rifle/Pistol Spring Selection Match in Fort Benning, Georgia less than a week prior to the National Junior Olympic Championships. Ogden finished in second place at that match and while Shaner won the Final of the match, he finished in seventh place overall.

“[Spring Selection] was a great way to prepare for this,” Shaner said. “You get all the emotions out on the first big match and then you’re mentally prepared for what you need to do.”

Rounding out the top three was 15-year-old Matthew Sanchez (Tampa, Florida). After the two days of Qualification, Sanchez was in third place overall, but only held a small lead over the rest of the field. His fourth-place finish in the Final and the additional 2.5 points that would be added to his Qualification score were enough to firmly win him the bronze. With his finish today, Sanchez earned his first nomination to the National Junior Team, and will make his first trip overseas to compete for the United States.

“The first day of Air Rifle was kind of iffy,” said Sanchez of his third National Junior Olympic Championships appearance. “I just had a few problems adjusting to the altitude – I come from Florida – and coming from sea-level to up here, the altitude was pretty challenging. I was pretty determined to calm down and nail it down the second day with a 620.9…I had no idea I had made the World Championship Team until [Resident Rifle Coach] Bob Foth came over and handed me his card after the Final. I’ve put in lots of work for this so I’m glad it finally happened!”

Medals were also awarded for the top finishers in the J2 (age 15-17) and J3 (age 14 and younger) categories. Winning the J2 gold was Mason Hamilton (Springfield, Kentucky), taking silver was Benjamin Smith, Jr. (Waycross, Georgia) and bronze was Gavin Barnick (Mora, Minnesota). Shaner and Sanchez are also both in the J2 (age 15-17) category, but were excluded from these awards because they won overall titles.

Braden Peiser (San Angelo, Texas) won gold in the J3 category, Hayden Bell (Kennerdell, Pennsylvania) won the silver and Cash Willhite (Midland, Texas) won the J3 bronze medal.

Nearly 180 athletes competed in the Men’s Air Rifle competition and all athletes earned their invitations to this match based on performances at their state-level Junior Olympic competitions. Only 38 percent of the Men’s Air Rifle Junior Olympic competitors nationally earned an invitation to this prestigious match. View complete Men’s Air Rifle results: http://www.usashooting.org/library/Competitions/0_2018/RP_JO/National_JO/Results/Mens_Rifle/Mens_Air_Final_Results.pdf.

Action continues tomorrow with the start of the Men’s Three-Position Rifle competition. This match will also feature two Qualifications plus a Final for additional points. Read the entire Men’s Rifle preview here: http://www.usashooting.org/news/2018/4/4/1033-mens-rifle-to-open-national-junior-olympic-shooting-championships. A complete schedule and start lists for the week can also be found here: http://www.usashooting.org/7-events/njosc/njoscrifle.

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