By Ashley Brugnone, CMP Writer
Camp Perry, OH -(AmmoLand.com)- In precision action during the 2016 JROTC National Championship, Marine Corps teams took first and third place, with East Coweta High School in Georgia earning top honors for the second year in a row.
Recording an overall aggregate score of 4694-307x, the team also set a Marine Corps and Overall National Record for recording a score of 2356-165x.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said East Coweta coach, Maj. Pete Merrill. “Last year we won the National Championship, and I graduated three seniors, so this year was pretty unexpected.”
“It started with great kids, they worked hard, and they stayed together as a team,” he added. “They shot for each other as much as themselves – I’m very proud of them.”
Team members of East Coweta are Cayla McLeod, Tanner Whitehead, Nate Peterson and Jonathan Satterfield.
A group of 220 skilled junior marksmen in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps JROTC Programs traveled to the South CMP Competition Center in Anniston, Ala, March 18-19, 2016, to compete for gold. The National event was hosted and administered by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP).
Army team Walla Walla High School in Washington earned the second place spot in the precision team match with a score of 4661-287x, as Dallastown High School in Pennsylvania took third with a score of 4650-304x.
The Marine Corps swept the sporter side in team competition – claiming the Top 3 on the podium. Nation Ford High School in South Carolina led with an outstanding score of 4430-140x. The team also set a Marine Corps JROTC National Record with a 2216-66x aggregate score. Members of the team are Levi Carlson, Marcus Stallings, Morgan Tench, and William Jaeger – coached by Col. Sean Mulcahy.
For their win, the team received a Crosman Challenger Air Rifle, donated by Crosman.
Landing in second place was Gulfport High School in Mississippi with a score of 4386-154x, followed by Des Moines North High School in Iowa, whose members fired a score of 4383-145x for third.
Placing teams also earned monetary awards from the CMP for their stellar performances – $500 for fifth, $750 for fourth, $1,000 for third, $1,500 for second and $2,000 for first. In addition, Larry and Brenda Potterfield, co-founders of the MidwayUSA Corporation, again provided generous fund donations to winning teams of the JROTC Championships.
The funds will be placed in each team’s endowment account with the MidwayUSA Foundation. The MidwayUSA Foundation is a 501c(3) public charity that helps communities and organizations raise funds to support youth shooting teams and activities. The Foundation is an endowment that helps fund team expenses today and into the future.
The National Championship is a two-day competition, where competitors fire in three positions – prone, standing and kneeling. The Top 8 competitors of the day from the precision class and the Top 8 from the sporter class then compete in a 10-shot final, vying for daily gold, silver and bronze medals.
Aggregate scores of each athlete from each day of competition (plus finals) are then combined to determine the overall best junior marksmen in the country amongst all four military branches.
Earning first place in the individual sporter match was Navy competitor Cassandra Rodriguez, 18, of Parlier High School in California, with a score of 1221.45. Levi Carlson, 17, of Nation Ford High School in South Carolina, fired a score of 1218 for second. He also secured two Marine Corps National Records: a 3×20 plus finals score of 658.2 and an impressive kneeling score of 195-10x.
Carlson consistently gave exceptional performances throughout the weekend, earning gold during the tough Day 1 final and silver after Day 2 finals – all successes he believes may have come from a superstitious advantage he kept in his wallet.
With the training day of competition falling on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, Carlson and a few of his teammates decided to search the Alabama ground for a four leaf clover – and he found one. He competed with it near him on the line to encourage good fortune for the rest of the competition.
“I think it brought me luck,” he said, with a smile, though a gander at his scores show his success is most likely based on an incredible talent rather than a shamrock.
Rounding out the Top 3 in the sporter class was Howard Norrish, 18, of Zion Benton High School in Illinois, who recorded a score of 1214.6. He, like Rodriguez, is also a member of a Navy JROTC.
Norrish also fought hard during the finals each day – battling from third place to first during a tense final on Day 2 of competition. After firing a poor score on his first shot, his confidence was shaken, but he came back with three 10-point shots and a final 9-point shot to secure his gold.
“I knew it was going to be a challenge,” he said after the final. “I’m happy and content . . . I’m happy with my performance, and I’m actually happy for every shooter there, just to be able to make it that far.”
A senior, Norrish says what he’ll miss most about air rifle competition isn’t what happens on the line, but rather what happens behind it.
“I’m going to miss the sportsmanship everyone shows to each other. Everyone is always so friendly,” he said. “You can go up and down the line after everyone is done shooting and say, ‘Hey, good job!” to boost their spirits. There’s no negativity from my end of it. That’s what I love about shooting, and that’s what I’m going to miss.”
In the precision competition, Marine Corps competitor Mark Amdahl, 17, of Eldorado High School in New Mexico, fired an overall score of 1282.7 to grab first place, followed closely by Army marksman Taylor Gibson, 15, of North Salem High School in Oregon, who earned a score of 1280.2. Cody Bogle, 17, of Grandbury High School in Texas, picked up another medal for the Marine Corps branch with a score of 1277.9 for third.
First-place finishers in each discipline received $500 from the CMP. Competitors were also awarded $400 for second and $300 for third. Additionally, fourth place received $200, and fifth place collected $100.
Navy precision competitor Logan Hanscom, 18, of Robert Service High School in Alaska, also received National Record recognition after setting an astonishing Navy JROTC National Record for kneeling – 200-18x.
As more evidence of the growing talent in air rifle, over 30 Junior Distinguished Air Rifle Badges were awarded at the FOX Sports 1 Dome at the Talladega Superspeedway, where the National awards banquet was held. Of those, 12 had earned their badges while competing in the National Championship.
Junior Distinguished Badges are awarded to those junior athletes maintaining consistent excellence in major air rifle matches over time – earning the total points needed to receive the honor. Since the beginning of the badge in 2001, 1027 juniors have been pinned.
The road to the JROTC National Championship began with the JROTC Postal Competition in October, with qualifying teams and individuals moving on to the Regional Service Championships in February at Camp Perry, Ohio; Anniston, Ala.; and Provo, Utah. The CMP was proud to once again be witness to all of the talented juniors who participated in all stages of the JROTC Air Rifle Championships. Congratulations to all!
For a complete list of results, visit the Competition Tracker page at https://ct.thecmp.org/app/v1/index.php?do=match&task=edit&match=14011.
Photos from the event can be viewed at http://cmp1.zenfolio.com/. Photos are available for free download as well as for purchase.
About the Civilian Marksmanship Program:
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States.
For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.