Men’s Smallbore Brings a New Face to the National Junior Team
The men’s rifle week of the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) ended with one new face to the National Junior Team (NJT) and an equaled National Record. Michael Matthews (Johns Creek, Ga.) earned a place on the podium in both Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position and Men’s 50m Rifle Prone Tuesday afternoon in Colorado Springs, Colo. Matthews had a healthy lead headed into the final-14 points to be exact. Despite the gap, he remained humble and focused.
“There is a little bit of pressure to renew my ‘membership’ for the National Junior Team,” said Matthews. Nerves aside, he remained focused and calm for 95.6 points in the final and the gold medal with 2424.6 total points . . . and a renewed NJT position. “I came in and trained hard. I wanted to place in the top three this year and I achieved my goal-I was third in prone and won three-position. I’m excited to take advantage of the training opportunities available to the NJT and the great coaching of Major Dave Johnson. I’m grateful to my mom, brother and uncle who were on hand to watch me win. I couldn’t do this without the support of my Coaches Wigger and Johnson and the U.S. Military Academy.”
The silver medalist was West Virginia University’s Taylor Ciotola (Pasadena, Md.) with 2408 total points. Accompanied by his father, 20-year-old Ciotola also carried a lead on the third position headed into the final. Ciotola was six points ahead of Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and determined to earn the Team USA jacket. “It’s definitely been a goal of mine to always make the junior team,” said Ciotola, who is now a proud member of the NJT per his NJOSC performance. I will now have some of the best coaches in the country available-I want to thank my parents, girlfriend and Coach Jon Hammond.”
Sherry maintained his position with 94.6 points in the final for 2403.6 total points and the bronze medal. One of the younger J1 competitors in the final, Sherry is a student at Mountain Vista High School. Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) finished in fourth with 2398.7 total points and Patrick Sunderman (Farmington, Minn.) shot 2396.6 total points for fifth place. Matthews’ West Point teammate Joseph Todaro (Bridgewater, N.J.) finished sixth with 95.6 points in the final and 2392.6 total points. University of Alaska-Fairbanks sophomore Michael Liuzza (New Orleans, La.) shot 93.9 points in the final for 2382.9 total points and seventh. Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.) of the University of Kentucky finished in eighth place with 2381.3 total points.
In the J2 category, Joshua Martin (Hershey, Pa.) won top honors with 2278 points. The silver medalist was Kevin Sui (West Covina, Calif.) with 2272 match points. The bronze medalist was Daniel Hall (Green Bay, Wis.) with 2272 points. The high J3 competitor was Spencer Jacobs (Gresham, Ore.) with 2165 point. The silver medalist was Tyler Martin (Centerville, Md.) at 2105 points and the bronze medalist was Anthony Jackson (Seven Valleys, Pa.) with 2056 points.
In Men’s 50m Rifle Prone, 19-year-old Matthew Chezem (Simi Valley, Calif.) equaled a National Junior Record with 598 match points in his second day of competition. That outstanding score propelled him to the first position in the final with a one point lead over Spencer Upham (Spokane, Wash.). Chezem, a student at Moorpark College, didn’t give an inch in the final as he shot 102.4 points to Upham’s 102.5 points for the gold medal.
Upham, one of two 16 year olds in the final, finished with the silver medal at 1289.5 total points. The bronze medal was a battle between Matthews and Ciotola. Both entered the final at 1186 match points, but Matthews edged out Ciotola by just three-tenths of a point. Matthews finished with 1287.4 total points and Ciotola shot 1287.1 points for fourth place. Fifth place belonged to Sherry with 1286.2 total points. Liuzza finished sixth with 1285 total points and 16-year-old Martin shot 102.5 points in the final for seventh place. Spurgeon finished in eighth with 1283.4 total points.
Martin ascended his second J2 podium of the day at 1181 points for his second gold medal. The silver medalist was Quintin Wotring (Kingsport, Tenn.) with 1179 points and Austin Cock (Silverton, Ore.) won the bronze with 1169 points.
The high J3 shooters of the match were a repeat of the Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position podium winners. Jackson brought home the gold with 1148 points, Jacobs won the silver with 1139 points and Martin won the bronze with 1105 points.
Men’s and Women’s Pistol
The NJOSC action continues on April 28 with the Men’s (11:30 a.m. MST) and Women’s 10m Air Pistol (3:30 p.m. MST) finals. The Men’s Sport Pistol final will be held at 2:00 p.m. MST on April 29. The NJOSC competition concludes with Women’s Sport Pistol finals on April 30 at 2:00 p.m. MST.