Olympic air rifle gold medalist Ginny Thrasher returns to the national shooting stage for the first time since the triumphant day in Rio de Janeiro as she gets set to compete in her final National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships beginning Saturday, April 15 at the at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.
Thrasher is just one of many talented female rifle shooters ready to contend for podium spots and potential placement on the 2017 Junior World Championship Team.
Men’s Rifle competition concluded Wednesday with some strong results for the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Olympic Training Center Junior Club. Men’s and Women’s Pistol will conclude the 18-day NJOSC with athletes set to start competing Friday, April 21.
Thrasher returned from the 2016 Olympic Games and was thrust right into another NCAA Rifle season, one that again proved successful as she helped lead the West Virginia Mountaineers to their fifth straight team title while finishing as the individual runner-up in smallbore (.22 caliber) rifle.
Saturday will mark her return to national competition and she has one destination in mind afterwards and that’s a trip to Suhl, Germany to compete in the Junior World Championships at the end of June.
“I have a lot of fond memories of National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships over the years,” Thrasher said. “This is my last year and I didn’t get to go last year during my freshman year of college, and I really missed it. I feel like it’s an opportunity to get back out into the national shooting scene and do my best to represent the sport and hopefully try to qualify for some future matches.”
Thrasher was recently in New York City attending the 87th annual James E. Sullivan Award ceremony in which she was among seven finalists in recognition of the nation’s top amateur athlete. University of Wisconsin volleyball star Lauren Carlini earned the top honor.
Thrasher may be the marquee name in attendance but there’s no lack of depth in the Junior Women’s Rifle ranks overall.
Thrasher’s freshman teammate at WVU enters NJOSC fresh off earning the NCAA Top Performer award after a sterling national championship performance last month. All she did there was win the Smallbore event and finish second in Air Rifle.
Other top medal candidates in the Women’s Rifle program include National Junior Team member Emily Stith (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Elizabeth Marsh (Searcy, Arkansas).
Stith earned a qualifying score of 397 in Air Rifle while Marsh had high marks of 584 in Three-Position. Stith was second in Air Rifle and was third in Three-Position at the Robert Mitchell Rifle Championships while shooting an Air Rifle Qualification score at the Meyton Cup of 421.4.
Marsh won the Junior Three-Position event and was the top overall finisher in Air at the Robert Mitchell Championship as well.
Other collegiate standouts who will also garner some attention within the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships women’s division will include reigning Smallbore champion Hanna Carr (Versailles, Kentucky) a sophomore at Kentucky, 2016 Smallbore runner-up Rachel Garner (Celina, Texas), a sophomore at Texas Christian University (TCU), and 2016 Air Rifle bronze medalist Casey Lutz (Meridian, Idaho), a freshman at TCU.
The target they’ve set their sights on now is a spot on the Junior World Championship Team. The top-two finishers in each event at National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships will earn the right to compete for Team USA at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Championship, June 22-29 in Suhl, Germany.
A junior committee made up of USA Shooting coaches/staff will determine a potential third spot in each discipline.
Ten-year-old Air Rifle competitor Abigail Donald (Missoula, Montana) is the youngest competitors in the Women’s Rifle field.
The breakdown of competitors includes 200 total athletes with 192 Air Rifle and 67 Smallbore starts.
Competition in the Women’s Rifle events of Air and Three-Position will include two qualification matches and one Final that will feature the top-eight athletes based on their cumulative qualification scores. Points will be provided to each Finalist based on order of finish in the one Final and podium spots will be awarded based on an overall match score combining both qualification rounds and Finals points.
There’s few things that mean more to youth across America participating in the shooting sports than the opportunity to compete in the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships with more than 790 athletes competing in NJOSC competition in 2017.
Athletes invited to Colorado Springs comprise the top tier of athletes that competed in a state level events totaling 2,658 competitors. The National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships will feature the top 30 percent of all competitors in 2017 and will feature Invitees that either won their state championship or were selected based on a score they attained.
The competitors range in age from 10 to 20 years old, and are classified according to age as J1 (ages 18-20), J2 (ages 15-17) or J3 (ages 14 and younger).
2017 Women’s Rifle National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships Schedule:
April 15 – Women’s Smallbore Rifle Day 1
April 16 – Women’s Smallbore Rifle Day 2 + Final
April 17 – Women’s Air Rifle Day 1
April 18 – Women’s Air Rifle Day 2 + Final
You can find out more at http://www.usashooting.org