Brian Burrows and Rachael Heiden once again found the pot of gold at the end of the championship rainbow Sunday after fighting four grueling days of wind, rain, heat and America’s top International Trap competitors to repeat as USA Shooting National Champions.
The full rainbow that illuminated the International Shooting Park just outside Colorado Springs, Colo., late Sunday night as the awards ceremony commenced was a fitting conclusion to an intense performance that seemed to have no end. Having found the elusive gold for the fifth time between them, Burrows and Heiden are filling their pots with victory on a frequent basis. Burrows is one shot away from being a three-time National Champion while Heiden claimed her third U.S. title in four years.
Neither Heiden nor Burrows had sniffed the top of the leaderboard before Sunday but by the time the final shots had been fired, it was Heiden and Burrows taking familiar positions atop the National Championship podium.
This year’s National Championships followed the new International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) finals with one slight modification: The six finalists entered a semifinal carrying over their qualification score. A 15-shot semifinal was then conducted with that score plus the qualifying score figuring into an overall total to determine shooters for both the gold/silver medal and the bronze-medal matches. On both concluding medal matches, the winner was determined with a best-out-of-15 duel format with ties broken by a miss-and-you-our-out finale.
Burrows used a 50-straight on the final day to climb into the semifinals in third position. After hitting 14/15, he’d shoot off against John Mullins (Port Orchard, Wash.) and Jake Wallace (Castiac, Calif.) for a spot in the gold-medal match in a pairing with Collin Wietfeldt (Hemlock, Mich.), who had held or shared the lead the entire event. Burrows would win the shoot-off eventually after Wallace was eliminated after the first shot and then out-dueled Mullins after nine successive hits.
The gold-medal match featured plenty of intrigue as well with both Wietfeldt and Burrows battling Mother Nature in the 15-shot elimination. The torrential downpour and heavy wind wouldn’t deter these capable shooters, tying at 14 targets apiece, which, given the conditions, was gold-medal worthy in its own right. The shoot-off would be delayed long enough to allow the rain to subside. Burrows would miss first in the shoot-off only to be followed by a Wietfeldt miss. The exciting match would end after a Wietfeldt miss on the fifth target.
Wallace outscored Mullins in the bronze-medal match, 13-12, and earned a spot on the National Team alongside Burrows and Wietfeldt. Seth Inman (USAMU/Independence, Mo.) finished fifth while sporting clays champion Anthony Matarese, Jr. (Pennsville, N.J.) placed sixth overall.
Heiden wouldn’t climb to the top of the leaderboard in women’s trap until the final day, but had shot well enough over the previous three days to keep herself within striking distance. She missed 10 targets through her first 125 clays and then went on to miss just seven over her next 155 including a perfect 15/15 in the semifinal. She battled two-time OlympianCorey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) in the gold-medal final, winning 13-12.
The bronze-medal match featured Ashley Carroll (Solvang, Calif.) and Miranda Wilder(Diana, Texas). Carroll, just 18, was the leader after 125 targets, but a third-round 66/75 and an 11/15 in the semifinal will be the two scores that she’ll look back on in her quest for her first national title. No doubt, however, that the 2012 Fall Selection and 2013 Spring Selection champion will be a force to reckon with in looking ahead to the Fall Selection Match in Tucson, Ariz. Carroll would top Wilder two targets, 14-12, in earning a bronze medal that ensured her National Team status. Wilder would rebound nicely with a championship of her own later, beating Kimberley Bowers (Lafayette, Calif.) in the Junior Women’s Final.
Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Victoria Burch (Mountain Home, Texas) would finish fifth and sixth, respectively.
Austin Odom (Benton, Ark.) would defeat Alex Rennert (Surfside, Fla.) for the Junior gold-medal final, 13-11. Rennert actually outshot Odom 249 to 245 over the 265 shots including the 15-shot semifinal. But the “zero” start final would work to Odom’s advantage in the end.Ryne Barfield (Poulan, Ga.) and Michael Flores (Sacramento, Calif.) would shoot-off after a 12-12 tie in their bronze-medal match, with Barfield earning the hardware after eight successful shots.
The Junior Women’s bronze medal would be garnered by Grace Hambuchen (Maumelle, Ark.) after a 13-8 defeat of fellow Arkansas native Amber Culwell (Rose Bud, Ark.).
Week Two of the USA Shooting National Championships for Shotgun rolls along this week with the start of Men’s Double Trap set to begin Tuesday and conclude Wednesday. Glenn Eller (USAMU/Houston, Texas) found his winning form again at the 2013 Spring Selection Match on his home range in Ft. Benning, Ga. A plethora of USAMU teammates will be in attendance hungry for a spot on the podium. Eller’s Olympic teammate and 2010 World Champion Josh Richmond (Hillsgrove, Pa.) is anxious to return to form once again. Adapting to a new gun setup and the ISSF rule changes affecting his discipline have taken a toll over the last couple matches, but a return to form could come at Nationals. Derek Haldeman(Sunbury, Ohio) and Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, Calif.) are also USAMU teammates that will be in the mix as well. Haldeman was the runner-up to Eller at the Spring Selection Match while Holguin finished fourth at a recent World Cup after an epic 56-target shoot-off to reach the event finals.
Billy Crawford (Johnstown, Ohio) and Ian Rupert (Muncy, Pa.) are two other names who will have an impact on the National title race. Crawford is the defending National Champion while Rupert earned a first World Cup medal (bronze) back in March in Acapulco, Mexico.
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