Stewart, Vizzi, Carroll and Layer Earn Shotgun Spring Selection Match Victories

FORT BENNING, Georgia (May 27, 2017)

In Women’s Trap, Ashley Carroll (Solvang, California) was the only athlete who was leading World Champs selection prior to Spring Selection that actually came away with the match victory. This consistency has her squarely in the drivers seat for Russia.USA Shooting’s five-day Shotgun Spring Selection Match came to a rousing conclusion Saturday in Fort Benning, Georgia with Sevin Layer taking the overall title in Men’s Trap. 

Spring Selection competitors tested their skill on one of the world’s toughest ranges for one course of fire and one final and battled a tough range and tough weather conditions throughout.

The event began in Skeet with competitors shooting through almost sideways rain at times from beginning to end. The competitors and officials powered through though as no lightning was present.  For Trap, the real adventure came in the sheer number of competitors present, 26 squads total, and just four bunkers, which meant long waits between rounds and long days. 

The match was the second of three stages of qualifying for the World Championships that will take place August 30-September 11 in Moscow, Russia. Qualification began last October with the Fall Selection Match in Kerrville, Texas and will conclude at the upcoming USA Shooting National Championships in July.  Qualification for the World Championships includes four qualification rounds and four finals with the top-three cumulative scores punching their ticket to Moscow.  

It was the Men’s Trap event that featured the most intrigue as match preparation unfolded given the influx of shooting talent that has arrived given the distinct possibility of Double Trap’s elimination from the Olympic program.  That means Double Trap stalwarts like five-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Glenn Eller (USAMU/Katy, Texas), two-time Olympian Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania), and 2008 Olympian Jeff Holguin (USAMU/Yorba Linda, California) are competing in a new game.  Eller was the top finisher with a 116/125.  Holguin came in at 110 and Richmond struggled to a 104.   

That intrigue brought out the best in the Men’s Trap competition with some Sporting Clays talent adding to the intensity of the match.  Current FITASC World Champion Derrick Mein (Walnut, Kansas) finished fourth while Will Hinton (Dacula, Georgia), the 2015 Junior FITASC World Champion, finished second to Layer.  

The current U.S. Junior Champion in Men’s Trap, Layer (Palm Habor, Florida) was the top qualifier with a world-class score of 122/125 and outshot Hinton in a shoot-off for gold in the Final.  The Florida native was the lone junior competitor in the field to earn a match victory.

In the race for World Championship selection, Jake Wallace’s consistency has him pretty much sewing up the top spot. His participation in Finals and ultimate sixth-place finish helped move him to 20-target advantage over Layer. Double Trap converts Derek Haldeman (USAMU/Sunbury, Ohio) and Dale Royer (Jackson, Montana) are tied for third.  Seth Inman (USAMU/Lexington, Missouri) and Roe Reynolds (Quitman, Arkansas) sit just one target back of those two. Besides Wallace, none of the other top 16 finishers from Fall Selection made the Final in Fort Benning.

The degree of separation in Men’s Skeet is virtually nil as seven athletes remain in contention for the three World Champs team spots.  That group includes four USAMU shooters with Hayden Stewart (Columbia, Tennessee) taking the Spring Selection victory and finds himself one target back in World Champs selection.  Christian Elliott (Indiana)outshot everyone by two targets in Qualification only to lose by one to Stewart in the Final.  He’s tied with his other USAMU teammate Dustan Taylor (Carey, North Carolina) for tops in World Champs selection. Two-time Olympian Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska) is fourth in World Champs selection following a third-place performance during the Spring Selection match.  Phillip Jungman (USAMU/Caldwell, Texas) is four targets back in fifth for World Champs selection while Zach McBee (College Station, Texas) and Mark Staffen (USAMU/Lewis Center, Ohio) sit 10 targets back.  

Despite a second-place finish, six-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) still took command of World Champs qualifying by missing just one target in Qualification.  She now holds a four-target advantage over Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana) who struggled in the poor weather conditions, shooting a 67/75 and not qualifying for Finals.  Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa) sits in third for World Champs selection, just one-half of a target behind Connor. Taking the victory in Spring Selection was Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Florida).  She shot a 70 in Qualification and would top Rhode in the shoot-off after the two tied during the Finals match.  Kendall Reed (Azell, Texas) stood on the podium in Fort Benning as the event bronze medalist.  Junior shooter Samantha Simonton (Gainesville, Georgia) is currently fifth in World Champs qualification. 

In Women’s Trap, Ashley Carroll (Solvang, California) was the only athlete who was leading World Champs selection prior to Spring Selection that actually came away with the match victory.  That consistency helped gain her another three-target advantage on second-place finisher Caitlin Barney Weinheimer (Ingram, Texas) for World Champs selection with 13 targets separating the two.  Despite not making the Spring Selection Final, two-time Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell-Unrein still holds onto third place in the race for World Champs selection with a one-target advantage over Aeriel Skinner (Jackson, California) and 1.5 targets on Kayle Browning-Thomas (Wooster, Arkansas), both of whom didn’t make Finals in Fort Benning either. Gayla Gregory (College Station, Texas), a converted skeet shooter, had a very strong performance this match with a 67/75 in Qualification and a third-place finish in the Final.

Spring Selection Results:

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