Not even dramatic injury can slow the fast-rising T.J. Bayer (College Station, Texas) on his way to one of the great Junior Olympic performances in recent history. Already crowned Trap champion on Sunday, Bayer spent Tuesday recovering and winning the Men’s Double Trap event of the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
He’ll go for the rare shotgun event sweep Thursday and Friday in Skeet, his best event. He’s won two events this week shooting games he rarely practices, so the skeet competition might be fearful of what’s ahead before anyone even takes to the field Thursday.
Bayer was injured on a hiking/climbing excursion to St. Peters Dome, a hiking trail in south Colorado Springs Monday when he fell 10 feet and suffered injuries to both legs and scraped his face. He spent time in the emergency room and received 11 stitches to close a cut on his right leg. He arrived to the range early this morning with crutches as a result of a severely sprained ankle that had him hobbling around all day.
Despite the injury, Bayer didn’t seem to pay much attention with his focus on winning being the biggest pain remedy.
“I think this sport is more about the eyes,” said Bayer afterwards. “When you look at the target it’s going to break. There are a lot of things that are going to affect you; the wind, the rain, all types of conditions and this was just another condition to get by. If you’re seeing it, you’re going to hit it.”
Asked if he felt much pain, he answered: “Honestly, it hurts. It hurts when I’m out here but when I get on the field, I don’t feel it as much. It doesn’t matter, when you’re pulling the trigger, you’re not thinking about much else.”
Asked about his performances of late, Bayer replied: “It’s nothing in particular, I feel confident. Any flying target sport is about who sees the targets the best and no matter what sport I’m doing, I’m confident I’m seeing the targets well, no matter where they are. I know I’m a little off still, because I didn’t hit them all, but I feel like I can.”Not much has stood in Bayer’s way as of late, not injury, nor youth or lack of experience. He finished second to Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Ga.) in May at the Spring Selection Match and is primed for a World Cup trip to Granada, Spain, and later this Fall the World Clay Target Championships. Before that though, he’ll try and make history Friday by winning a Junior Olympic Title in all three shotgun disciplines.
Finishing six targets back of Bayer in second place was 16-year-old Jacob Fritcher (Driftwood, Texas) and by virtue of his results will earn a spot on the National Junior Team for Shotgun. Trey Hill (Mufreesboro, Tenn.) ended competition as the bronze medalist given him back-to-back podium finishes at the NJOSC after a silver-medal in 2012. Hill joins Jordan Hintz (Burlington, Wis.) and Austin Sublett (Breckenridge, Texas) on the new Junior Olympic squad by virtue of their third, fourth and fifth-place finishes. Fourteen-year-old Hank Garvey (Newburyport, Mass.), who now has made a junior final in two straight USA Shooting matches, finished sixth overall.
For complete results, click here: http://www.usashooting.org/library/Competitions/2013_JOs/Shotgun/TRAP-DT_RESULTS.pdf
While Bayer is the front-runner to compete for the National Junior Olympic title in Men’s Skeet, he’ll likely face stiff competition from 2012 NJOSC champion Phillip Jungman (Caldwell, Texas) as well as Hayden Stewart (Columbia, Tenn.), Jakob Keldsen (Walkerton, Ind.) Zac Womack (Bowie, Texas)and Coulter DeWitt (Bryan, Texas). Stewart was the event runner-up last year while Keldsen, Womack and DeWitt all made the junior final recently at USA Shooting’s Spring Selection Match.
The field is small in Women’s Skeet with just 10 entrants registered but the fight will be intense for NJOSC glory. Brandy Drozd (Byran, Texas) broke through at the Spring Selection match to earn the overall win, but Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Fla.) was a part of that Final too and will be certainly a contender as the two-day event unfolds. Drozd beat Vizzi for the NJOSC title a year ago by 10 targets. Spring Selection Junior finalists also making the trek to Colorado to try and earn their spot at the table includes Gayla Gregory (College Station, Texas), Hannah Houston (Columbia, Tenn.), Kendall Reed (Azle, Texas) and Sydney Carson (North Liberty, Ind.).
Image courtesy USA Shooting