Fans of Air Rifle got a treat in Colorado Springs Tuesday afternoon with the America’s shooting future clearly on display. A Wildcat trio, Nanook doubles, a Falcon, a Mountaineer and a home-schooled 17-year-old all battled for the National Title in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle Final of the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC).
With an unflappable shooting style, Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) emerged victorious among a talent-rich NJOSC Air Rifle final that featured five USA Shooting National Junior Team members. Davis earned a 1.5 point victory over University of Alaska-Fairbanks rifle shooter Ryan Anderson (Fairbanks, Alaska) while 2012 champ and Air Force cadet Tyler Rico (Tucson, Ariz.) walked away with the bronze medal. The Kentucky freshman Davis was joined in the final by two other Wildcat teammates including Cody Manning (London, Ky.) and Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.) who finished fourth and sixth respectively.
Davis’ Junior Olympic gold medal reaffirms his fast-rise in the sport and backs up his fourth-place finish at the recent NCAA Rifle Championships. He’ll test his shooting accuracy against the best in the world later this spring as he’s been selected as a member of the USA Shooting Team that will compete at Ft. Benning, Ga., during the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup May 5-12 as well as for a World Cup in Munich, Germany in late May.
“Connor has great spirit and a work ethic to be envied,” said Amy Sowash, a National Development Team athlete and UK Rifle Assistant Coach. “As a native Kentuckian, we are so proud he represents UK. He lives on the range and thrives on the excitement of competition, which I think is his greatest strength. With big dreams and the heart to back them up, Connor will be able to go as far as he wants in this sport. He’s also a model teammate and training partner. We are lucky to have him.”
The surprise of the match was turned in by 17-year-old Mark Matheny (Middletown, Del.). The home-schooled shooter from Queen Annes 4-H Marksmanship Club didn’t let the rank and file of his competitors unnerve him on his way to a fifth-place finish. He’d finish as the high J2 (15-17-year-olds) competitor and would be joined on that podium by Bernard Cheezum (Centreville, Md.) and Ian Foos (Bellevue, Ohio). Thirteen-year-old Alec Patajo (Puyallup, Wash.) was the high J3 (14-and-under) finisher.
Colorado native and UAF Nanook Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) finished seventh while West Virginia Mountaineer Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) finished eighth. Spurgeon got into the final after a three-way shoot-off with Daniel Cliff (Fairfax, Va.) of North Carolina State and David Higgins (Camp Pendleton, Calif.) of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
For complete 2013 NJOSC results, click here: http://www.usashooting.org/7-events/njosc
Just two more events remain before the end of the 2013 Rifle/Pistol NJOSC with Men’s Smallbore (.22 caliber) Prone and Three-Position events left to be contested. In Three-Position, returning bronze medalist Sherry looks to add more medals to his collection. There are a plethora of top returning athletes that are looking to upset Sherry on his home turf including many that competed in the Air Rifle final today. Mountaineer standouts Spurgeon and Patrick Sunderman (Farmington, Minn.) both finished just off the podium in 2012 and are looking to change that this year after helping lead WVU to its 15th NCAA Rifle title in March.
Qualifying for the National competition begins at the state level as State Junior Olympic Championships included competition in 47 states utilizing 80 different USA Shooting clubs. The 2013 competition consisted of over 2,200 individual participants in rifle and pistol events. State champions and those who qualify via high scores are invited to Colorado Springs to compete in the NJSOC. The top-two finishers in each event earn a spot on USA Shooting’s National Junior Team.
More information can also be found on the USA Shooting website by clicking on the ‘National Junior Olympic Program’ link located under the ‘Events’ tab. Follow along also using the Twitter Hashtag #NJOSC or via the USA Shooting’s Facebook page. For scores, please visit USA Shooting’s match results page following each competition.
Men’s Air Rifle NJOSC Finalists
Name (Hometown): Finals: Overall
- Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.): 102.1: 1285.1
- Ryan Anderson (Fairbanks, Alaska): 102.6: 1283.6
- Tyler Rico (Tucson, Ariz.): 101.9: 1278.9
- Cody Manning (London, Ky.): 102.8: 1277.8
- Mark Matheny (Middletown, Del.): 101.2: 1274.2
- Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.): 98.1: 1274.1
- Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.): 102.6: 1273.6
- Garrett Spurgeon (Newport News, Va.): 102.6: 1270.6
Logo courtesy USA Shooting