Colorado Springs, CO -(Ammoland.com)- The heart of international rifle competition was on display over Valentine’s Day weekend with more than 60 participants firing shots during the 2015 Rocky Mountain Rifle Championships at the USA Shooting Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Asserting themselves with podium-topping performances were Olympic Training Center Resident athletes Dempster Christenson, Amy Sowash and Tom Csenge as well as Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) standout Michael McPhail and up-and-coming junior prospect Elizabeth Marsh.
The annual February tradition featured five days of rifle competition in both air and smallbore (.22 caliber) events that will go a long way toward preparing athletes for upcoming international season. Athletes shot two courses of fire in each event to determine eight finalists with final podium placement based on cumulative scores (2 qualifying rounds+Finals points). Additionally, two mixed smallbore super finals were contested in Prone and Standing.
McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin), a 2012 Olympian, earned top honors in the Prone event by winning both qualification matches and finishing second in the final. His adversaries included international star Sergei Martynov of Belarus, the reigning Olympic Champion, who also has two Olympic bronze medals and two World Championship titles on his impressive career resume. Martynov would win the final but finish 9.1 points back of McPhail overall to earn a silver medal. Two-time Olympian Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU/Phenix City, Alabama) would finish third. McPhail would also come from behind to earn the top prize in the Prone super final as well.
Christenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) climbed to the top of the podium in Men’s Air Rifle, edging second-place finisher Bruno Heck (BRA) by .4 points. Bryant Wallizer (Little Orleans, Maryland) finished third. Christenson would also claim bronze in the three-position rifle event as well.
Csenge (Colorado Springs, Colorado) accumulated the highest qualification scores in the three-position event and finished fourth in the final to earn the top award. Daniel Lowe (USAMU/Olympia, Washington) would win the final but have to settle for second-place, falling two points short of Csenge’s cumulative score.
Sowash (Richmond, Kentucky) was victorious in the Women’s Air Rifle event, defeating Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana) by 2.5 points overall. Seiko Iwata of Japan was third. Junior shooter Marsh (Searcy, Arkansas) was on her game throughout the match as showcased by her gold-medal run in Three-Position rifle, fourth-place finish in Air and first-place honors in Junior Air. The 16-year-old, who is currently being coached by three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons, defeated Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pennsylvania) behind a strong finals performance. Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Washington), a 2012 Olympian, finished third. Furrer did win the Standing super final event.
Marsh wasn't the only junior standout during the match. William Shaner (Silt, Colorado) broke the National Junior Record in Air Rifle in Thursday’s qualifying match, which propelled him to the overall junior title. His qualifying scores in Air also earned him a spot in the open men’s final as well. The 13-year-old Shaner is among a group of Colorado Springs teenagers, including Will Anti, whose record he broke, that has gone about competing with the nation’s best in international rifle and pistol for the better part of the last year. To read more about their special program, click here. Also, junior Jacob Buchanan (Spring, Texas), 17, showed surprising strength in prone as well as three-position where he finished fifth overall.
Paralympic competition was also included in the match with a four-person British contingent, led by two-time Paralympic medalist Matt Skelhon, earning most of the hardware. Jazmin Amlie-Ryan (Houston, Texas) took gold in both the R4 Standing Air and R5 Prone Air events.
The ramp-up to the 2015 international shooting calendar continues Feb. 24-27 with a Pistol Selection Match at the USA Shooting Center. The top athletes in the Sport, Free and Rapid-Fire pistol events will be on-hand trying to earn valuable World Cup qualifying scores and spots.
To view photos from the event, click here.
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