The most anticipated event of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun likely will come in Women’s Trap where five female trap shooters are within eight targets of one another and expect to undergo an intense test of nerves and accuracy in order to grab the lone Olympic Team spot available.
Caitlin Barney Weinheimer (Kerrville, Texas) used her home-range advantage during the first part of the Olympic Trials at the Fall Selection Match in September 2011 to open up a six-target advantage on her competitors. The 22-year-old will graduate from Schreiner University (Kerrville) on Saturday with a degree in communications. She acknowledges that she has been intensely focused on backing up her high scores in Kerrville since the day that match ended.
“The second portion of the Olympic Trials is a big match that we have all been training hard for over the past four years,” said Weinheimer. “In the past year, I have been running high-pressure drills and training in order to prepare me for the atmosphere of this match. While I am aware I have a lead going into this match, I try not to focus on that. Instead my goal for this match is to focus on how I can improve from Fall Selection. I will do that by concentrating on one target at a time, and that connection I need to make. That is where I will prove myself and hopefully come out with a spot on the Olympic Team. I love this sport and my country and it would be a great honor to represent them in the 2012 Olympic Games.”
The pack chasing her heading into the May 17-20 Olympic Team Trials in Tucson, Ariz., features some of the sport’s best including 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska). Cogdell has recently proven both her affinity for the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club and for dramatic comebacks. She won the gold medal at the Tucson World Cup on March 30 as she earned a spot in the final via a five-person shoot-off. At 70 targets, Cogdell shot from the fifth position and overtook her opponents with a near perfect final-dropping just one target to finish with 94 total targets. She’s no stranger to comebacks however, as she trailed by eight targets at the 2008 Olympic Trials and managed to shoot her way on to the team.
“I’m really excited for Trials,” said the 25-year-old Cogdell. “I have been training not just the last couple months for this match, but the last four years. I think it’s going to take a very strong performance, shooting very consistently, to make this Olympic Team.”
Cogdell is tied with Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) and Kelsey Zauhar (Lakeville, Minn.) in second position, trailing Weinheimer by six targets. Both young shooters have demonstrated their ability to remain competitive and should be expected to challenge for Olympic contention. Browning should have a boost of confidence heading in after earning the first World Cup medal (bronze) of her career at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup in London recently. She also is the reigning national champion in the event.
Though bothered by a significant lower back injury that has limited her training ability since the Tucson World Cup, Zauhar won’t let excuses stand in the way of trying to reach her Olympic dream and is poised to break the targets she needs to give herself that chance.
“In a sport where injuries are rare, this is unfortunate timing,” said Zauhar. “I’m not the first person to face adversity, so I’m not going to use my back as an excuse or as an acceptance for failure. Instead, I’m going to strive for resiliency and success and see what happens. I’m beyond proud to have a chance to represent my country, family, friends and myself.”
Also, very much in contention is USA Shooting National Team member Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas), who sits eight targets out.
Men’s Trap will also be contested in Tucson despite the U.S. not having earned an Olympic quota spot for London. Jake Turner (Richland, Wash.) holds a one-point advantage over Ryan Hadden (Pendleton, Ore.) in a tightly-contested field that features 10 competitors within 10 points of the lead.
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun will take place at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club (TTSC) outside Tucson, Ariz., and will feature action in all of shotgun’s respective disciplines including Trap (M/W), Skeet (M/W) and Men’s Double Trap. However, Olympic spots will only be available in women’s trap (1), men’s skeet (2) and men’s double trap (1).
Many of the competitors expected to participate will be familiar with the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club after competing there during the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup event March 25-31. The U.S. Team led all participating nations in winning five medals, including three gold.
Overall, Cogdell and four other Beijing Olympians will be competing in the Trials including: Men’s Skeet Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (USAMU/Eatonton, Ga.); Sean McClelland (Mission, Texas), a skeet shooter who finished 11th in Beijing; double trap specialists Glenn Eller (Katy, Texas), the reigning Olympic gold medalist, and Jeffrey Holguin (USAMU/Yorba Linda, Calif.), a fourth-place finisher in 2008.
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun Competition Schedule:
Thursday, May 17 – Official Training (all disciplines)
Friday, May 18 – Trap & Skeet (100 Targets), Double Trap (150 Targets)
Saturday, May 19 – Trap & Skeet (100 Targets), Double Trap (150 Targets + FINAL)
Sunday, May 20 – Trap & Skeet (50 Targets + FINAL)
The TTSC has served southern Arizona’s shooting sportsman since its original incorporation in 1948. The club has been in its present location, west of historic Tucson, since early 1976 when construction on the 80-acre site was completed. In preparation for the 2012 World Cup and its designated as a USA Shooting Certified Training Center, the club added 300 acres, five international bunker traps and seven new skeet fields.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for all sports is a collaborative, three-way partnership between the U.S. Olympic Committee, the national governing bodies and the local organizing committees. All athletes nominated to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.