Sunday’s skeet win for two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) brought the USA Shooting Team’s quota haul to three total during an important continental shooting event at the 11th showing of the Championship of the Americas in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Hancock was a quota earner just as Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) and Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) were in 10m Air Pistol and 10m Air Rifle. The three quotas earned were the biggest highlights for the 63-member squad that competed for USA Shooting in an event that included 426 athletes competing from 24 nations. In total, the team earned 19 individual medals and earned team gold in 11 of the 15 events.
Wins in Women’s Trap by Ashley Carroll (Solvang, California) and in Women’s Skeet by Amber English (Colorado Springs, Colorado) also highlighted the week-long event. Unfortunately, Olympic quotas weren’t available for the taking in those two events or the U.S. total would have been seven earned instead of five in the all-important hunt for Olympic qualification. Thanks to Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) and Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pa.) World Championship victories, the USA Shooting Team already had secured two quotas in Women’s Skeet and Men’s Double Trap.
Placement sweeps in Men’s Air Rifle and Women’s Skeet also were significant accomplishments. Dempster led the way in Air Rifle followed by Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska) in second and Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Kentucky), third. English topped Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa) in the gold-medal final while Drozd scored a 15-10 win in the bronze-medal final to ensure a placement sweep in that event too. Still, the podiums in those two events didn’t accurately reflect that success given by-laws written into the format of the Championship of the Americas stipulating no one country can earn all three medals even if the scores reflect differently.
Other individual standouts included trap shooter Jake Wallace (Castaic, California) who equaled the world record qualifying score of 125 with a perfect performance. The score was first 125/125 recorded in international competition in 16 years when Lance Bade equaled that mark during the 1998 World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. Despite qualifying perfection, Wallace would have to settle for silver, losing in the gold-medal final to Eduardo Lorenzo of the Dominican Republic.
Junior World Pistol Champion Alex Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Florida) continued his great season with a bronze medal during his first time competing in an international open event. Olympian Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Washington) certainly would have liked a quota but getting a bronze medal in the Women’s Three-Position Rifle event was special given that she had to borrow teammate Michael Liuzza’s rifle after discovering her gun had broken in two during the flight to Mexico.
Looking to obtain a Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) that helps make them Olympic eligible were 23 U.S. athletes with several notable performances despite not being eligible for medals during the event. Nick Mowrer’s (Butte, Montana) scores of 572 (air pistol) and 544 (free pistol) would have made finals in both events. Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pennsylvania) scored a 409.7 in air rifle which would have placed her into finals. The U.S. men finished first, second and third in Air Rifle and MQS entries Bryant Wallizer (Little Orleans, Maryland) 622.7 and Tom Csenge (Colorado Springs) 619.4) would have made it five of the top six qualifying scores with marks of 622.7 and 619.4, respectively. Brenda Silva (Snowflake, Arizona), a 2008 Olympian, shot a 571 in Sport Pistol, which was the second-best score overall in qualifying and would have easily put her in the finals. In Men’s Prone Rifle, Matt Chezem (Simi Valley, California), 623.7, would have qualified him for finals. In Women’s 3P, Hannah Black (Richmond, Virginia) and Emily Quiner (Brooklyn Park, Minnesota) both shot qualifying scores capable of making the event final with a 582 and 575. Current National Champion Morgan Craft’s (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania) score of 69 in qualifying would have topped the field in Women’s Skeet. With scores of 70/75 in Women’s Trap, both Kimberley Bowers (Lafayette, California) and Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas) would have been in the finals and combined with Carroll, Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Caitlin Barney-Weinheimer (Kerrville, Texas) for the top four qualifying scores overall.
CAT is the second of 11 possible competitions in which Olympic quotas are available but was the final chance in 2014, before nine other opportunities to follow in a busy 2015. 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.
The Shooting Confederation of the Americas (Confederaciòn Americana de Tiro – CAT) was founded and recognized by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) in 1973 as the Continental Confederation for the Shooting Sport for all countries of the American Continent.
For rifle/pistol results from the Championship of the Americas, click here.
For shotgun results, click here.
Logo courtesy USA Shooting