Connor Wins World Champs Selection While Rhode & Vizzi also Punch Russia Tickets

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (July 14, 2017)

Caitlin Connor is headed to fifth World Championship as the top scorer during World Champs selection.Skeet competition began Friday as part of the 2017 USA Shooting National Championships (USASNC) for Shotgun and with it came three more Team USA nominations for the World Championships Team.  The first of four days of competition saw 75 targets thrown and finalization of the World Champs Team in Women’s Skeet.  

Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana), Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) and Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Florida) earned their tickets to Russia following a three-part Selection Match that began last Fall in Kerrville, Texas, included a stop in Fort Benning, Georgia and came to a rousing conclusion Friday at the International Shooting Park just south of Colorado Springs. The final nine athletes will earn their selection Saturday during day two of USASNC in Men’s Open and Men’s and Women’s Junior Skeet.  Twelve Trap athletes were previously chosen to kick-off Nationals.  Women’s Trap Selection Story | Men’s Trap & Jr. Women’s Trap Selection Story 

Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa) was in contention for her 11th World Championships team but a score of 16 out of 20 to begin the Final would force an early departure and eliminate her Russian chances.  With a two-point lead heading into the Final, Rhode would be eliminated next, opening the door for Connor to snatch the overall lead in World Champs Selection.  She’d do just that by defeating Vizzi, as the two battled in the last 10 Finals shots with Vizzi missing her last target to give Connor win.  After missing three out of her first 10 targets, Connor would find her stride missing just two targets over the final 40 shots and secure the ½ point victory in the end over Rhode.     

Other participants in the Final that couldn’t factor into the World Champs team given they didn’t quite have enough points built up would include juniors Sam Simonton (Gainesville, Georgia) and Katie Jacob (Rochester, Michigan). Simonton would finish third in the Final and Jacob would end the Final in fourth.  Both are still very much in contention for junior participation, however.   

The four-time World Cup medalist, Connor was the silver medalist at the 2015 World Championships to teammate and good friend Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania) in a match that came down to a sudden-death elimination for the world title and a U.S. Olympic Team spot.  

“It’s an honor to have earned the right to compete in my fifth World Championship," Connor said afterward.  "The opportunity to do so with the quality of competition we have in the U.S. in women’s skeet is not a given for anybody.  I am very excited to compete alongside my teammates in Russia.” 

The six-time Olympic medalist Rhode now gets the chance to add to an already impressive year in which she’s already won two times on the World Cup circuit while finishing second in the other.  The American shooting icon is into her third decade of competing at the World Championships having made 14 World Championship teams, missing just three since 1995. She has three World Championship medals during that time including skeet gold in 2010, a double trap silver in 1998 and a skeet bronze in 2011. 

A three-time World Championships medalist already, Vizzi gets the chance to test her skill at the Open level now after three-consecutive Junior World medals including gold in 2014, silver in 2013 and bronze in 2015. 

With identical scores of 74/75 on the day, Vizzi and Jacob are also leading the target race for Nationals as well. Connor is just one back after a 73, as is rising 15-year-old junior Austen Smith (Keller, Texas), who is coached by two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia). 

In Men’s Skeet, 21 athletes remain within four targets of one another, but it was U.S. Army Marksmanship Unite (USAMU) soldier-athlete Hayden Stewart (Columbia, Tennessee) that earned the day’s biggest accolades following a perfect score of 75.  He’s now one point ahead in the World Champs Selection points over USAMU teammate Dustan Taylor (Cary, North Carolina) after Taylor’s 73.  Christian Elliott (Greenwood, Indiana) also of the USAMU, is two points back after a 72.  Two-time Olympian Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska) and reigning National Champion Phillip Jungman (USAMU/Caldwell, Texas) are three points out of third.  Competing in his first competition since last year’s World Cup Final, Hancock shot a 74. 

USASNC Results 

Women’s Skeet Pics Day 1

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