Junior Rifle/Pistol Athletes Find Early Success in Pilsen


Garrett SpurgeonA team of 19 Junior rifle and pistol athletes are currently taking part in the 23rd Meeting of the Shooting Hopes, the annual junior-only match featuring up-and-coming talent from 25 countries.  Athletes competing at last week’s USA Shooting National Championships left Ft. Benning, Ga., straight for Pilsen, Czech Republic, site of this prestigious match used to help identify and develop junior talent.

The three-day event featuring 385 competitors got off to a great start for the USA Shooting Team participants highlighted by West Virginia University rifle standout Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) walking away with a medal on day one.  Competing in Men’s Prone Rifle, Spurgeon earned a bronze medal to add to a week of accomplishments that also includes a junior national title in Men’s Three-Position Rifle and a runner-up national finish in Junior Air Rifle.  Spurgeon was in great position to capture the gold medal with the highest score of 624.8 in qualifying to lead all competitors but couldn’t continue his red-hot shooting throughout the finals to fall back to bronze.

Spurgeon then teamed up with fellow collegiate shooters Ryan Anderson (Alaska-Fairbanks/Fairbanks, Alaska) and Elijah Ellis (University of Kentucky/Kingsport, Tenn.) to earn another team gold medal for Team USA.  Anderson finished 15th individually while Ellis finished 18th respectively.  Ellis’ Kentucky teammate Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.), the new Air Rifle National Champion, finished 25th while Air Force Academy’s Tyler Rico (Tucson, Ariz.) was 38th.

On the women’s rifle side, 17-year-old Elizabeth Gratz (Sigel, Ill.) earned a fourth-place finish among 61 competitors in a Women’s Prone event and lead a U.S. team that had three women finish inside the top-12.  Rachel Martin (Peralta, N.M.) finished eighth while 2013 Junior Olympic Three-Position champion Deanna Binnie (Holsopple, Pa.) earned a 12th-place finish.  Those finishes earned them second place in the overall team ranking behind a French contingent that finished with three shooters inside the top-10.   Hayley Broughton (Tulsa, Okla.) also competed and finished 48th.

The rifle team is being lead by USA Shooting Board member Janet Raab and 1992 Olympic gold medalist and Air Force Rifle coach Launi Meili.

The developing talent of pistol shooter Lydia Paterson (Kansas City, Kan.) continues to present itself every time she steps to the line.  She exited the USA Shooting National Championships as one of the youngest National Team members ever by virtue of her silver medal in the Women’s Air Pistol event.  In Pilsen, she earned a trip to the finals in the event and finished sixth overall.  Her score, combined with that of her teammates Alana Townsend (Kalispell, Mont.) and Darian Shenk (Annville, Pa.) helped earn the U.S. Team a fifth-place finish overall.  Townsend finished in 18th position while Shenk was 28thCindy Chung (Diamond Bar, Calif.) and Janice Choi (La Puenta, Calif.) finished 30th and 45th.

In other results, Tony Chung (Diamond Bar, Calif.) and Brian Kim (Los Angeles, Calif.) finished 20th and 21st in Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol while Paul Chong (Fontana, Calif.) was 24th in Free Pistol.

The pistol team is being lead by Assistant National Team coaches Steve Faught, Russ Doucette and En Kim.

Competition continues Saturday with Women’s Air and Men’s Three-Position Rifle along with Men’s Air and Women’s Sport Pistol events. Sunday concludes competition with Men’s Air and Women’s Three-Position Rifle along with Men’s Sport Pistol.

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