Fort Benning, GA -(Ammoland.com)- The tough Benning bunkers were the test in store for the nation’s top Men’s and Women’s Trap shooters during the 2015 Spring Selection Match in Fort Benning, Georgia, April 9-12.
For those that excelled or survived the test, a trip to World Cup Azerbaijan and the World Championships awaited. The results from this match are being combined with the results from the 2014 Shotgun Fall Selection Match held in Tillar, Arkansas to determine open team selections for these events.
Junior Team selections for World Championships will be based on combined results from this summer’s National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships and National Championships. Top honors were earned by Myles Walker (Elkhorn, Wisconsin) and Kayle Browning (Wooster, Arkansas) with Jake Wallace (Castaic, California), Anthony Matarese (Pennsville, New Jersey), Corey Cogdell Unrein (Eagle River, Alaska) and Kimberley Bowers (Lafayette, California) also earning World Cup and World Champs selection.
For the National Junior Team member Walker, it’s been a good couple of weeks having help earned Lindenwood University their 12th straight Association of College Unions International (ACUI) Collegiate Clay Target Championships and now this. Walker was the leader coming in to this Selection Match and maintained that through another 250 targets, two finals and a shoot-off, holding off Wallace, Matarese, Brian Burrows and Collin Wietfeldt (Hemlock, Michigan), who finished second through fifth over the two selection matches. Walker and Matarese were tied for the best score of Spring Selection and were forced to shoot-off to determine Benning bragging rights. Matarese, a well-known sporting clays shooter as well, topped Walker following two targets. Still, Walker will now make his World Cup debut in Gabala, Azerbaijan, on August 14.
Joining him will be Wallace, who maintained his World Cup status with a second-place finish along with Matarese with a gritty comeback performance during this selection match after being ranked No. 7 after Fall Selection. Matarese was one of just four athletes ranked inside the top-15 overall that actually improved upon their performance from Fall Selection. The other three included Matt Gossett (Springville, Alabama), who finished third overall at Spring Selection, Trey Hill (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) and Ryne Barfield (Poulan, Georgia).
In Women’s Trap, Browning and two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell Unrein (Eagle River, Alaska) proved most dominant. In the overall selection, no one was within 18 targets of the second-place Cogdell Unrein and Browning finished 10 points ahead of Cogdell Unrein backed by a stellar four days of shooting at Fort Benning. Browning was dominant throughout all 250 targets and two finals, connecting on 20 more targets than Cogdell Unrein and then finishing first and second during each of the two finals. Connecting on 234/250 targets in qualifying not only easily topped all female competitors it was the top score overall with Walker missing two more targets than Browning.
Miranda Wilder (League City, Texas) finished third during Spring Selection and fourth overall. Of the 15 top finishers, just four women shot better through qualifying in Benning than they did in Fall Selection and that included Browning (+21), Cheyenne Waldrop (Foresthill, California), Victoria Burch-Carpenter (Kerrville, Texas) and Grace Hambuchen (Maumelle, Arkansas).
The goal now for the U.S. Trap Team is gathering three more Olympic quotas necessary for Olympic participation. Cogdell Unrein secured one to start the season with a World Cup victory in Acapulco while Browning was close to securing a second at the same match. Browning and Bowers now have three remaining opportunities in 2015. Burrows was fourth in Acapulco, two spots away from what could have been the first quota secured for the U.S. men in the event since 2008. Burrows, Wallace and Wietfeldt will try to get the job done shortly at World Cup Cyprus, before Wallace, Matarese and Walker go after them at the final two opportunities. A quota spot is essentially the entry ticket necessary for a country to compete in Olympic competition in a particular discipline. USA Shooting athletes winning Olympic quotas will still have to earn the right to compete separately.
Up Next: Skeet & Double Trap:
Men’s Skeet competition should be extremely tight as during last year’s Fall Selection, the top six competitors were only separated by six points following Qualification. Look for T.J. Bayer (College Station, Texas) and Mark Weeks (USAMU/Clinton Township, Michigan) to challenge current World Cup team members Dustin Perry (Lovelady, Texas), Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska) and Acapulco World Cup gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia) for medals. Hancock and Perry are first and second headed into live targets Tuesday with Bayer and Weeks tied for the third spot. Thompson is three back of third currently. Hancock’s perfect performance at World Cup Acapulco has secured one of the two quotas available in Men’s Skeet.
Though the U.S. has won the maximum of two quotas for Men’s Double Trap and Women’s Skeet, the athletes who move on will have the chance to earn those important points toward Olympic team selection. World Champions Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania) and Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) will look to get back in the points race after being shutout of the first three World Cups this year. Also look for Amber English (Colorado Springs, Colorado) to challenge for medals in Women’s Skeet as she missed making the World Cups earlier this year by one target in a shoot-off with Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania).
In Men’s Double Trap, Ohio natives Derek Haldeman (USAMU/Sunbury) and Chris Wilkoski (Centerburg) are atop the leaderboard following Fall Selection, 11 points ahead of four-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Glenn Eller (USAMU/Houston, Texas). Olympians Jeff Holguin (USAMU/Yorba Linda, California) and Richmond are currently tied, nine points back of Eller.
In Women’s Skeet, current World Cup members Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) and Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana) are first and second, with Craft and English tied in points. Haley Dunn (Eddyville, Iowa) is six targets back with Drozd faced with a 12-point deficit to make up.
Remaining Schedule for 2015 USAS Shotgun Spring Selection:
- April 14: Skeet (75 targets); Double Trap
- April 15: Skeet (50 targets) + Final Double Trap (150 targets) + Final
- April 16: Skeet (75 targets); Double Trap (150 targets) + Final
- April 17: Skeet (50 targets) + Final
About USA Shooting
USA Shooting, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting in April 1995. USA Shooting’s mission is to prepare American athletes to win Olympic medals, promote the shooting sports throughout the U.S. and govern the conduct of international shooting in the country.
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