The journey toward the London 2012 Olympic Games continues as aspiring Olympians take the stage in the first part of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Airgun in Anniston, Ala. The event takes place from Dec. 2-4 at the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) South Marksmanship Center. Robert Mitchell, Executive Director of USA Shooting praised the CMP South facility and expressed USAS’ excitement for hosting as he said, “The CMP venue is the best airgun range in the country with 80 electronic targets that provides our athletes with an ideal shooting environment.”
At the completion of the 2010 and 2011 World Cup seasons, the USA Shooting Team won two Women’s 10m Air Rifle quotas, two Men’s 10m Air Rifle quotas and two Men’s 10m Air Pistol quotas. These valuable quotas determine the number of athletes that will represent the USA in the 2012 Olympic Games. The scores from the first part will be combined with those of the second part, which will be held the CMP’s North Marksmanship Center in Camp Perry, Ohio from Feb. 22-25. Olympic Team selection will be based on the aggregate of four courses of fire and two best finals.
In Men’s 10m Air Rifle, top-ranked athletes Corporal Matt Rawlings (Wharton, Texas) of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) and Jonathan Hall (Carrollton, Ga.) are expected to deliver strong performances. Rawlings was the recent gold medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games, winner of the first quota at the 2010 Championship of the Americans and the reigning National Champion. Hall is hot on his heels as he secured the second quota at the 2011 Pan American Games with a silver medal and the bronze medal at the 2011 National Championships. Two-time Olympian Matt Emmons (Browns Mill, N.J.) is looking for his second berth on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. Emmons received an Olympic nomination (pending approval by the USOC) for his success in Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position and looks to demonstrate his airgun talents as well.
Women’s 10m Air Rifle will be an interesting event as no clear champions have emerged in the past two seasons of competition. Meghann K. Morrill (Boerne, Texas) made the final in last year’s World Championships and is the reigning National Champion, but didn’t medal in a World Cup this year. The only Women’s 10m Air Rifle World Cup medalist in 2011 was Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) with a gold medal (and quota) winning performance in Changwon. Scherer’s collegiate teammate Sarah Beard (Danville, Ind.) is also on the radar as she delivered an exceptional performance for the silver medal at the 2011 National Championship. Two-time Olympian Emily Caruso (Fairfield, Conn.) is also a strong contender. Coming off a recent gold medal (and quota) performance at the Pan American Games, Caruso’s shooting is peaking at the right time in the season. Another name that’s liable to show up in the finals is Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.). Gray, formerly Jamie Beyerle, like Emmons has already received an Olympic nomination (pending approval by the USOC) in Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position, but is looking to assert herself in airgun competition. With two spots available for the female competitors and the top talent on the line, it is likely that the athletes who reach the podium will be separated by just tenths of a point.
Sergeant First Class Daryl Szarenski (Seale, Ala.) of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) is ready and waiting for Men’s 10m Air Pistol. Szarenski has had a stellar two years leading up to the Olympic Games. In the 2010 and 2011 season, he’s won six international medals in pistol events (including Men’s 50m Free Pistol). Szarenski is also the Pan American Games gold medalist-winning the second Men’s 10m Air Pistol quota for the American team in Guadalajara, Mexico. Brian Beaman is also on the radar as he (Selby, S.D.) won the bronze medal at the 2011 World Cup USA and first Men’s 10m Air Pistol quota. Not to be overlooked is young Will Brown (Twins Falls, Ida.), a Resident Athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Brown has dominated junior competitions for the past few years and has been making the leap into the men’s division. He recently finished fifth at the 2011 Pan American Games. Though he may be considered more of a wild card, 2008 Olympian Sergeant First Class Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colo.), also of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, made his debut in air pistol at the 2010 Winter Airgun Championships and his scores have been rapidly improving.
Spectators are welcome to attend and cheer on future Olympians. For live results and more information on the CMP South Marksmanship Center, please visit the CMP website. For updates and daily recaps, please visit www.usashooting.org.