Rifle/Pistol Fall Selection Showcases Familiar Names & Unveils Rising New Talent

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (September 25, 2017)

Sixteen-year-old Katelyn Abeln, seen shooting here at the 2016 National Championships, was a star performer in Women's Sport Pistol during Fall Selection, topping a field that included two Olympians and the reigning National Champion. Her scores of 578 and 577 would have put her into the Final at this year's Junior World Championships and was 10 points higher than when she competed their earlier this summer.USA Shooting’s Rifle/Pistol Fall Selection Match concluded Sunday in Fort Benning, Georgia, and the competition showcased some familiar names while also unveiling some new talent.

As many as 80 competitors took part in the launch phase of 2020 Olympic qualification.  Olympic qualification and country quota allocations officially gets underway during next year’s International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship, August 31-September 14. 

The Fall Selection Match served as the first part of the selection process for World Champs, as well as the ISSF World Cups in Korea, Germany and the CAT Games in Mexico for all smallbore (.22 caliber) Olympic events. It also served as the Final Selection for the 2018 ISSF World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico, and for all 300m Rifle, non-Olympic events for the ISSF World Championships. 

Fall Selection was part one of a two-part qualification system established for Three-Position Rifle, Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol and Women’s Sport Pistol and featured two Qualification matches with one Final based on total aggregate score of the two qualification matches.  The second stage of World Championship selection will take place at the 2018 Spring Selection Match, March 26-30 back in Fort Benning, Georgia.  

Olympians Matt Emmons, Michael McPhail, Lucas Kozeniesky, Keith Sanderson, Emil Milev, Sandra Uptagrafft and Brenda Silva expectedly filled podium spots in Georgia.  Most impressive, however, was the Sport Pistol victory claimed by 16-year-old Katelyn Abeln, and the Rapid Fire bronze medal captured by 17-year-old Jack Leverett. Those two put up performances well beyond their years and have them eyeing open World Team spots before graduating high school.  Also, some new names emerged in Women’s Three-Position Rifle as former NCAA Rifle champ Rachel Martin earned a victory and was joined by two current collegiate stars in Rachel Garner of Texas Christian University (TCU) and MacKenzie Martin of Murray State University.

Fall Selection served as the lone qualifier for World Champs selection in 300m and there’s some familiar names atop the list.  Athletes selected for self-funded slots in these non-Olympic events won’t be fully determined until the entire World Champs team is named on March 30, 2018.     

Winning the Women’s 300m Three-Position Rifle event was Erin McNeil (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit/Fort Wayne, Indiana). McNeil won bronze in this event at the 2014 World Championship in Granada, Spain. Finishing in second place was Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana), who would be making her international debut in the 300m event. Reya Kempley (Carson City, Nevada), who was a part of the team that won a silver medal in this event at the 2010 World Championship, finished third. 

McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin) won the 300m Men’s Prone Rifle event. McPhail won bronze in this event at the 2014 World Championship. Joe Hein (Mason, Michigan) finished in second place and George Norton (USAMU/Salina, Kansas) finished in third.  Hein was a part of the silver-medal winning team in this event with McPhail in 2014. 

In Men’s 300m Three-Position Rifle, Norton was the top finisher, followed by his USAMU teammate Patrick Sunderman (Farmington, Minnesota) and Bradley Yliniemi (Duluth, Minnesota). All three athletes would be making their international debut in this event. 

In Women’s 300m Prone Rifle, McNeil once again claimed the top spot, followed by Kempley and Denise Loring (Manassas, Virginia). Kempley finished in fifth place and McNeil in ninth place in this event at the 2014 World Championship. 

Yliniemi also won the Men’s 300m Standard Rifle event. Matt Griffin (Plymouth, Minnesota) finished in second place and Mark Gould (Grasonville, Maryland) finished in third. Gould and Griffin were members of the 2014 World Championship team. 

In his first match back since November 2016, Emmons was the top aggregate qualifier by three points after consecutive scores of 1176 in 50-meter Three-Position Rifle Qualification. He would then go on to win the Final. His Olympic teammate the past two Olympic Games, McPhail, was second as he transitions from life as a Prone specialist. 2016 Olympian and reigning National Champion in the event, Lucas Kozeniesky (Fairfax, Virginia), had to endure a back injury he suffered during a run the day before competition began and finished third. 

Martin was the only woman in the field to shoot 582 or above in Qualification on consecutive days and then finished sixth in the Final. TCU junior Garner was second followed by Finals winner and Murray State junior Martin. 

Winning the Women’s Sport Pistol event by a nine-point margin was 16-year-old Katelyn Abeln (Douglasville, Georgia). Abeln won this event at the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships in April, as well as winning the Junior title at the USA Shooting National Championships in July. Finishing in second place was 2008 Olympian Brenda Silva (Snowflake, Arizona) and in third place was 2012 Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama). 

In Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol, three-time Olympian Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado) won the event in dominating fashion, finishing in first place without even competing in the lone Final at this selection match. Six-time Olympian and new Ohio State Pistol Coach Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) finished second and 17-year-old Jack Leverett (Bainbridge, Georgia) finished in third place. Earlier this summer, Leverett finished in 11th place in Rapid Fire Pistol at the Junior World Championship in Suhl, Germany. 

Rifle/Pistol Fall Selection Results

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