It was only fitting that on Tuesday’s two-year countdown to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that a two-time Olympian would reassert her position while a hard-working, determined teammate would claim a title he coveted.
The road to the 2014 USA Shooting National title in international trap was paved with plenty of obstacles similar to what will lie ahead for all Olympic hopefuls forging ahead toward their Olympic dreams. To claim victory, Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) and Jake Wallace (Castiac, California) would have to be at their best, and they were.
Cogdell is National Champion by virtue of a clutch gene that saw her win both finals over the four-day event that featured 250 targets and two finals matches. Those two finals victories earned her a bonus 10 points on top of the 241 targets she hit throughout qualifying to secure a one-point victory over Ashley Carroll (Solvang, California) in the end. Kayle Browning (Wooster, Arkansas) was welcomed back to the National Team with a triumphant third-place overall finish after struggling to find her groove this past year after just missing out on a chance at a 2012 Olympic Team bid. Browning, though, has now earned a U.S. Championship medal in seven of the last eight years.
“The scores were incredibly high and it was just an outstanding bunch of women I had to compete against that really pushed me,” Cogdell said afterwards. “The competition led me to shooting my personal best and I just really felt strong throughout and it definitely feels wonderful to be back on top again.”
The bar for this two-time Olympian is incredibly high and even missing one high-caliber competition, like she will as a result of not securing a team slot for Worlds, was definitely all the extra ammunition she needed. Though, admittedly, her absence might have been just what she needed given her summer wedding and all that went into that.
“Well, I definitely got a great break, which I definitely feel was a blessing in disguise,” she acknowledged. “But, it did give me some hunger to come back strong and let everyone know I’m not out of the game yet and I’m going to be there to push them and they’re going to push me similar to what you saw here this week.”
Wallace, who will compete at the upcoming World Championships in Granada, Spain, got there a bit of a different way, grasping victory with a near-perfect final day, crushing 78 of the 80 targets he saw on Tuesday. He was perfect, 50/50, during two qualifying rounds, 15/15 in the semifinal and then hit 13 targets to defeat Trey Hill (Murfeesboro, Tennessee) in today’s gold-medal match. Tuesday’s near perfection and finals win was enough to put him over the top in the tight race for a national championship, winning by one point over both Matt Gossett (Springville, Alabama) and Alex Rennert (Surfside, Florida). Gossett would claim sole possession of second place after an 11-target shootout to reclaim a spot on the National Team while Rennert earns his first National Team distinction.
“It’s an honor to be a national champion,” admitted Wallace after the grueling four-day test. “It’s especially sweet considering that Todd Graves (National Team Coach) and I basically recreated my style at the beginning of the year. It’s a great confidence booster going into World Championships. The competition was incredibly tough. The great weather made it perfect for shooting high scores and the athletes answered.”
Besides the honor of Nationals hardware, this year’s Championships serves as chapter one of a two-part selection process for 2015 World Cups that include Mexico (March), United Arab Emirates (March), Cyprus (April) and Azerbaijan (August). Scores will carry over to the November Fall Selection Match in Tillar, Arkansas, and the cumulative point totals from the two matches will be used to select 2015 World Cup participants.
Junior National Champions were also crowned with Hill and Carroll each receiving that distinction. Over the course of four days of shooting, Hill defeated 2014 Junior World Team member Ryne Barfield (Poulan, Georgia) by four points while Dustin McGowen (Greenwood, Arkansas) finished in third. Carroll was a decisive junior winner, besting the field by 18 points with 2014 Junior World Team member Sam Smith (Spring Hill, Tennessee) finishing second and Aeriel Skinner (Jackson, California) earning the bronze medal.
Men’s and Women’s Skeet competition featuring five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) gets underway Thursday and concludes on Sunday. Men’s Double Trap featuring the Army Marksmanship Unit trio of Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania), Glenn Eller (USAMU/Houston) and Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California) also competes Thursday and Friday as well.
Photos of the Men’s and Women’s Trap competition can be found on USA Shooting’s Flickr site.
Complete Trap results from the 2014 USA Shooting National Championships can be found here.
Image courtesy USA Shooting