USA Shooting National Team spots are at stake beginning Thursday with the first shots of the 2013 USA Shooting National Championships for Shotgun. First to the line at USA Shooting’s International Shooting Park in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be 145 of the top international bunker trap athletes in the U.S.
Highlighting the 2013 Nationals will be the return of five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) returning to competition for the first time since she stepped off the line in London with a history-making gold medal around her neck. Much has changed for skeet competitor Rhode since July 29, 2012, when she became the first U.S. Olympian competing in an individual sport to medal in five consecutive Olympic Games. On May 13, she gave birth to a son, Carter. Active and healthy now, Rhode is thirsty to return to competition once again.
“It feels good to be back into the routine of things,” said Rhode. “Carter has brought a lot of exciting changes since I lasted competed but it feels great to be behind the gun and working towards new goals and opportunities.”
Rhode and the rest of the skeet competitors won’t see action until August 1 with their official training day. Until then, trap and double trap shooters will battle for national supremacy. For many it’s also the last competitive rounds they’ll see before competing for Team USA at the 2013 World Clay Target Championships, Sept. 14-25 in Lima, Peru.
On the women’s side, 18-year-old Ashley Carroll (Solvang, Calif.) has spent the last year climbing to the top of the U.S. trap rankings with wins at the two most recent USA Shooting Selection Matches and a Junior Olympic title. She’s also found success on the international stage as well having finished in the top-10 in both World Cup events she participated in. She finished 10th in Acapulco, Mexico, and returned recently from the Granada World Cup having earned her way into her first World Cup final, finishing fifth, despite the loss of her gun in customs that didn’t arrive until just before competition started.
Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) and Rachael Heiden (Clinton, Mich.) will have a lot to say on whether Carroll’s run of success continues. Cogdell, a two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, recently equaled the World Record with a perfect 75 hits in qualifying at the Granada World Cup and finished third overall after slipping two spots in finals. She’s earned one national title (2009) in her career. Heiden has won two of the last three national titles and certainly likes competing on her current home range as a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) having won two National and two National Junior Olympic titles.
Others likely to be in title contention include Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas), Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Kimberly Bowers (Lafayette, Calif.) as they’ve been consistent event finalists over the last year. Also, 2012 Olympic Team runner-up Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) won the 2011 National title and is hungry to erase a bad performance during Spring Selection in Ft. Benning, Ga.
Up until USA Shooting’s Spring Selection Match, Brian Burrows (Fallbrook, Calif.) had established himself as the main attraction among an up-and-coming men’s trap team after winning the 2012 National title and Fall Selection Match. He also had claimed a World Cup silver medal in March to go along with his string of success. He’ll look to rebound and defend his title after a lackluster performance in Ft. Benning in May that saw him finish sixth overall. Matt Gossett (Springville, Ala.) won that Selection Match by three-points over 2008 Olympic Team runner-up John Mullins (Port Orchard, Wash.).
All three will likely be among the contenders aiming for USA Shooting’s top prize. Others battling for national recognition will be Ryan Hadden (Pendleton, Ore.), Jake Wallace (Castiac, Calif.) and Collin Wietfeldt (Hemlock, Mich.). Hadden earned a World Cup bronze medal in March 2012 in Tucson, Ariz., while Wallace, a new resident athlete in Colorado Springs, returned from Granada with a finals appearance and a sixth-place finish. A consistent event finalist, Wietfeldt’s 10th-place showing during Spring Selection was uncharacteristic and he’s seeking revenge on the competition this time around. A pair of Show Me State competitors, Seth Inman (Independence, Mo.) and Corey Spruill (Saint Charles, Mo.), both displayed their potential with entry into finals at Spring Selection and will look to build upon that success.
Noteworthy shotgun athletes not competing in the USA Shooting National Championships include 1996 Olympic bronze medalist and three-time Olympian Lance Bade (Vancouver, Wash.), five-time U.S. Championship medalist Jake Turner (Richland, Wash.) and two-time Olympic Trials finalist Kelsey Zauhar (Lakeville, Minn.).
USA Shooting National Championships for Shotgun Schedule:
July 25 – 28 – Men’s & Women’s Trap
July 30-31 – Double Trap
August 2-4 – Men’s & Women’s Skeet
A new element of the 2013 USA Shooting National Championships for Shotgun is the addition of the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and their national championships in the international events. The SCTP National Championships were conducted July 15-20 in Sparta, Ill., and given the timing of this year’s USA Shooting National Championships both organizations decided to come together to host SCTP-style events for the first time at a USA Shooting National Championships. The SCTP addition has not brought as many competitors as leaders would have liked.
“Due to the extended competition schedule of the both championships (three-plus weeks), registrations are below expectations,” said Michael Theimer, USA Shooting’s Youth Programs and Athlete Development Manager. “Only those that are interested in the Olympic path are attending as the others just wanted to shoot a SCTP national competition and chose not to participate this week. We lost an opportunity to expose more SCTP athletes to international trap and skeet. We’ll work together with SCTP in the futureto find ways in which we can grow participation.”
“Exposing as many athletes as possible to the International Shooting sports is what we are all about and we will look at other ways to make that happen,” added SCTP National Director Tom Wondrash. “The concept is a great idea in that athletes get to compete against National Team athletes on a real big stage. Unfortunately, I think it scared some off. We’ll be talking with parents and coaches after this is over to see what we can differently to grow participation.”
Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) is proud to sponsor the largest and most exciting clay target program for youth in the United States. As the National Governing Body for the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP), SSSF provides kids from elementary grades through high school and college with the opportunity to participate in the fun and challenging sports of Trap, Skeet and Sporting Clays, as well as the Olympic disciplines of Bunker Trap, Trap Doubles and International Skeet. SSSF is the official feeder program to USA Shooting and a path to the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team.
Logo courtesy USA Shooting