Acapulco, MX -(Ammoland.com)- It’s a pretty good day anytime 50 percent of the finals field is wearing the USA Shooting vest.
That’s exactly what happened Thursday at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Acapulco, Mexico, with three U.S. entries into the six-person Double Trap finals. Results would get even better after the U.S. Army Marksmanship trio walked away with a gold and bronze medal, an Olympic quota and a sixth-place finish.
The two-medal performance adds to a great season-opening World Cup thus far for USA Shooting with two more events still to come. Two of the three gold medals have been earned by Americans, along with two Olympic country quotas as well as three other top-six performers. Corey Cogdell-Unrein (Eagle River, Alaska) earned gold on Monday to get things started for the USA Shooting Team.
Today, Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California) claimed the exact same spot on the podium he held to conclude last year’s World Cup season as the victor. In October, it was as the World Cup Finals champion. Today, it was for the third World Cup win of the 2008 Olympian’s career as well as the start he was looking for with sights on Rio and Olympic selection. Holguin would hit 144/150 targets to qualify in first place. His 29/30 hits in the semifinals would tie him with teammate Derek Haldeman (Sunbury, Ohio) and ultimately earn the second of two Olympic country quotas in the event. The two would be forced to shoot-off for entry into the gold-medal match. No stranger to long World Cup shoot-offs, Holguin would outlast Haldeman but not until executing 52 perfect shots. In a 2013 World Cup event, Holguin won a 56-target shoot-off to get into the bronze-medal match.
To earn gold, Holguin would once again be forced into a shoot-off after 30 shots would not be enough to decide it in his matchup with China’s Binyuan Yu with each missing two targets. After Hu missed one on his fourth pair, Holguin would claim top honors after connecting on his eighth target.
“I didn't know if I was ever going to make it.” Holguin said after the match. “First the qualifications, then the semifinal, a shoot-off, the medal match, and another shoot-off. I don't know how many targets I had to break. It has been tough, but I was confident all the way through.”
“After the semifinal, during the shoot-off with my teammate Haldeman, for a moment I thought I was going to be tired at the end,” Holguin added. “But I stopped myself immediately, because I knew it was going to hurt me. The last time I went through a long final, I performed poorly in the medal match. So I zeroed in, I told myself I was shooting great, I kept on going, and luckily I made it.”
Haldeman was excellent in claiming his first World Cup medal. After faltering to Holguin in the shoot-off, he’d collect himself to miss just two targets in the bronze-medal match against two-time Olympic bronze medalist and 14-time World Cup medalist Fehaid Aldeehani of Kuwait. Aldeehani was equal to the test and the two would have to settle it in another shoot-off, that went through 12 targets before an Aldeehani loss.
The performance for Haldeman is magnified given the difficulty he has in just earning World Cup opportunities given the depth of a U.S. Men’s Double Trap program that features three Olympians and ample success including multiple world titles and an Olympic gold medal.
Four-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas) earned his way into the top-six finalists following a shoot-off with four other competitors after all shot a qualifying score of 139. Eller would not advance to the medal rounds and would settle for a sixth-place finish after losing a disputed target and missing four others during the semifinals.
The trio provided further proof of the USA’s continued domination in double trap. Consider this: in 2014 alone the team won five World Cup medals, one more than any other country. Additionally, the team can also boast of having the World Champ along with the Olympic quota that came along with it, the World Cup Finals Champ, the Junior World Champs silver medalist along with team silver and bronze (junior) World Champs medals and three medals from the Championship of the Americas. Since 2010, the program has earned 15 World Cup medals, crowned five World Champions (3 open, 2 junior) and two World Cup Finals winners and earned another nine World Championship medals (2 individual, seven team).
Watch the Double Trap finals with all three American contenders below:
Competing to obtain their minimum qualifying scores (MQS) and to gain much needed international experience were Jesse Hayes-Lewis (Nahant, Massachusetts) and James Meagher (Saugus, Massachusetts). The Haynes-Lewis score of 128 would accomplish the task while Meagher’s 117 left him one target short of the MQS needed for possible Olympic eligibility.
Up next in Acapulco is action in Men’s and Women’s Skeet featuring five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia). Additional athletes will include reigning U.S. Champions Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania) and Dustin Perry (Lovelady, Texas), 2012 Olympian Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska), and two-time World Cup silver medalist Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana).
A full-day of competition is set for the women on Saturday, while the men shoot 50 targets Saturday and wrap things up with 75 more targets Sunday plus a final.
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