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Emily Stith Wins Women’s Junior Olympic Air Rifle Shooting Championships

On the final day of Women’s Rifle competition at the 2017 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC), high school senior Emily Stith just gave herself the best graduation gift imaginable with round trip tickets to Suhl, Germany courtesy of being crowned Junior Olympic Air Rifle Champion.

There’s plenty schnitzel and shooting in Stith’s immediate future.  USA Shooting will send Stith to Suhl to compete at the Junior World Championships in June. It’s already been quite the month for Stith who won the Rifle/Pistol Selection Match in Air Rifle as well.

That top podium spot guaranteed her an invite to compete in Munich for an International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). She’s foregoing her high school graduation from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs in order to do so.  It’s a choice she never thought twice about with shooting being her first love.

Tuesday though was all about the ascension to junior superiority for Stith in a packed women’s field that featured this year’s top athlete at the NCAA Rifle Championships in Morgan Phillips, last year’s NCAA champion and Olympic gold medalist Ginny Thrasher, and five other top collegiate shooters.

Stith is only four full years into a venture that’s drastically changed her perspective and her family’s livelihood. She began this quest at Kitsap Rifle & Revolver in Washington before moving onto Capitol City Gun Club. After qualifying for NJOSC and American Legion in 2014, she received an invite from the National Training Center Junior Club program.

The Stiths packed up everything within a week and made Colorado their new home. The decision is looking pretty good after Tuesday’s Junior Olympic Air Rifle success.

Asked what lead to this moment, Stith responded: “Just a lot of hours on the range every single day and a lot of hard work. When I’m not on the range, I’m absorbed in being a student of the game. I realize that there’s just not one thing that you do, but it’s your whole personality and your lifestyle that will bring you to the podium. It’s different for everybody, but you have to find your own thing.”

After qualification scores of 418.3 and 416.1, Stith would find herself with a 1.6-point advantage over West Virginia University sophomore Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia). Stith would finish fourth in the Final after winning a shoot-out with Murray State University sophomore MacKenzie Martin (Fairhaven, Massachusetts). Phillips, who won the NCAA Smallbore title and finished second in Air Rifle, would eventually edge her WVU teammate Thrasher by 1.5 points to finish fifth overall.

Texas Christian University (TCU) freshman Casey Lutz (Meridian, Idaho) entered the Final in fourth and moved up one spot overall after a strong third-place finish in the final standings. Lutz’s sophomore teammate and Three-Position Rifle champ Rachel Garner (Celina, Texas) finished fourth.

Despite not finishing at the top in either event, Thrasher’s performance still proved superb as she was the only athlete in the field to earn a medal in both events. For her efforts, she was awarded the #BeBrazen Outstanding Athlete of the Match and was awarded a custom timepiece courtesy of Brazen Sports for her efforts.

Winning the J2 (15-17 years of age) division was Angeline Henry (Fort Worth, Texas), followed by Macey Way (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Grace Taschuk (Andover, Minnesota).

Katie Zaun (Buffalo, North Dakota) accomplished something special Tuesday with her J3 (14 years and younger) win. Zaun had previously earned the J3 win in Three-Position Rifle on Sunday. With the Air Rifle win, she’s now swept both rifle events in each of the last three NJOSCs. Lauren Hurley (Wilsonville, Oregon) was second followed by Katrina Demerle (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Full results of the 2017 Women’s Junior Olympic Air Rifle Shooting Championships can be found at http://www.usashooting.org/library/Competitions/0_2017/RP_JO/Results/Womens_Rifle_Final_Results.pdf
For photographs of the event, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/usashooting/sets/72157679554103943/