Two days and two Olympic quotas have been secured in both contested men’s events at the 2014 Championship of the Americas taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico. Today, the U.S. showcased their continental strength in Men’s Air Rifle with Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) highlighting a tremendous U.S. performance with his gold medal and Olympic quota.
Christenson, Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska) and Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Kentucky) finished first, second and third on the scoreboard, even if the podium didn’t reflect it. Match rules were adopted to ensure countries were allowed just two medal winners in each event, thus Davis was left off the podium despite the score that said otherwise. Though a medal sweep would be nice, there’s only one that matters for this American team and that’s gold and exactly what has happened in two of the four events thus far. Christenson’s gold medal secured the USA Shooting Team’s fourth Olympic quota overall and second of this match following a win by Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) in Air Pistol on Monday. Shotgun athletes Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania) and Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) previously earned quotas by winning World Championship titles in September.
Christenson was the second-best qualifier to make finals behind teammate Anderson. He’d excel in the finals averaging 10.32 points on his 20-shot final for a total score of 206.4 in the final. The winning finals score was good enough to equal the American finals record he set previously during the 2013 World Cup USA in Ft. Benning, Georgia, good enough for the silver medal then.
The U.S. Women’s Air Rifle Team earned the team gold medal but came away without the Olympic quota it was seeking. Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana) was the highest finisher in third place followed by Air Force Academy cadet Meredith Carpentier (Waukegan, Illinois) in fifth and Texas Christian University freshman Mindy Miles (Weatherford, Texas) in seventh. The team score of 1243.3 set a new American record.
The CAT Games feature 426 athletes competing from 24 nations including 63 USA Shooting Team members. Earning a quota in competition ensures the country a spot in that particular event, not necessarily the athlete. Athletes earn the available spots via a point and trials system established by USA Shooting.
On the program for tomorrow is competition in Women’s Sport Pistol, Men’s Free Pistol as well as Men’s and Women’s Trap. Men’s Free Pistol is a two-day event with elimination set for Wednesday and qualification plus finals on Thursday. Women’s Trap is a one-day event, but no Olympic quota is available at this event for either of the women’s shotgun events. Men’s Trap will shoot 50 targets Wednesday, followed by 75 targets on Thursday plus the event finals.
Women’s Sport Pistol will include U.S. athletes Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama), Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Florida) and Teresa Chambers (Dearborn, Michigan). Chambers made finals of Women’s 10m Air Pistol Monday. Shooting for MQS scores will be 2008 Olympian Brenda Silva (Snowflake, Arizona) and Kara Petracek (Atlanta).
In Men’s Free Pistol, Jason Turner (Rochester, New York), James Henderson (USAMU/Midland, Georgia), and John Zurek (Phoenix, Arizona) will compete. Turner and Henderson both made finals of Men’s 10m Air Pistol Monday. Also, shooting for Minimum Qualifying Scores (MQS) will be 2012 Olympian Nick Mowrer (Butte, Montana) and Stephen Lutz (Tonganoxie, Kansas).
Women’s Trap features U.S. competitors Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Ashley Carroll (Solvang, California) and Caitlin Barney-Weinheimer (Kerrville, Texas). Kimberley Bowers (Lafayette, California) and Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas) will shoot for MQS.
Set to compete for a quota in Men’s Trap will be Ryan Hadden (USAMU/Pendleton, Oregon), Seth Inman (USAMU/Independence, Missouri) and Jake Wallace (Castaic, California). Perhaps no other quota would mean more this event than Men’s Trap given the void felt last Olympic quad when the USA Shooting Team had no 2012 Olympic qualifiers in Men’s Trap. Competing in the MQS category are James Reed (Azle, Texas) and Morgan Harbison (Waller, Texas).
Image courtesy USA Shooting