The first final of the men's rifle week at the 2012 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) named two new faces to the National Junior Team (NJT). Now teammates, Tyler Rico (Tucson, Ariz.) and Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) fought until the last two shots.
Rico, last year's J2 gold medalist in Men's 10m Air Rifle, entered the final with 1178 match points-a two point lead on the competition. Spurgeon was right behind with 1176 points. Rico, who signed with the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2012, dropped a few points with 9.1 points in his seventh shot, leaving the door open for Spurgeon. Despite Spurgeon's 41.1 points in his final four shots, Rico rallied with 101.7 points overall to finish 1.5 points ahead of Spurgeon for the gold.
"I was thinking, 'Man, don't screw up,'" said Rico. "Then I stopped, took a breath, cleared my head and focused on the trigger. I wasn't nervous during the qualification, but going into the final I was very nervous."
Rico was excited about his appointment to the NJT. "I saw the [NJOSC Men's 10m Air Rifle] final in 2010 and knew I wanted to be there someday. I'd like to thank my parents, Coach Major Bob DeWitt, Rio Salado Shooting Club and the wonderful volunteers of this match."
Spurgeon, who will be attending West Virginia University in the fall, had the second highest final of 102.2 points for 1278.2 overall points and the silver medal. It should be noted that Spurgeon was also a competitor in the 2011 NJOSC and drastically improved his match score over the course of a year. In 2011, Spurgeon shot 1145 and marked 1176 match points this year for the second position headed into the final.
The bronze medalist was Richard Calvin (Munfreesboro, Tenn.) of the U.S. Military Academy. Calvin shot 1172 match points for the fifth position in the final. With the highest final of 102.5 points, he overtook two other shooters to win the bronze medal by 5.4 points. The fourth place finisher was 17-year-old Patrick Sunderman (Farmington, Minn.) who shot 1174 match points and 98.9 points in the final for 1272.9 aggregate points. Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.) of the University of Kentucky finished fifth with 1270.1 aggregate points. Less than a point behind was 17-year-old Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) with 1269.4 total points for sixth place. West Virginia University freshman Taylor Ciotola (Pasadena, Md.) shot 1269.1 points for seventh place and University of Alaska-Fairbanks sophomore Michael Liuzza (New Orleans, La.) shot 1268.9 points for eighth.
The high J2 competitor was 16-year-old Mitchell Van Patten (Meridian, Ida.) with 1159 match points. Just one point behind was silver medalist Austin Cock (Silverton, Ore.) with 1158 points. The bronze medalist was Jason Spaude (Saginaw, Mich.) with 1156 points. One interest fact about the J2 medalists is that all shot in the 2011 NJOSC and demonstrated improved scores in this year's competition.
In the J3 Category, Spencer Jacobs (Gresham, Ore.) shot 1106 points for the gold medal. Tyler Martin (Centerville, Md.) won the silver medal at 1096 points and Gerald Schadler (Vancouver, Wash.) shot 1088 points for the bronze medal.
The NJOSC men's rifle action continues with finals in Men's 50m Rifle Three Position and Men's 50m Rifle Prone at 5:00 p.m. MST on April 24. The three position final will be held first, followed by the prone final.
For final scores and rankings, please visit the National Junior Olympic Program page. Photos are available on USA Shooting's Facebook page and Flickr.
ELEY is a Proud Sponsor of the USA Shooting Rifle and Pistol Teams: ELEY Limited, manufacturer of the world's most consistently accurate rimfire ammunition, has been the Official Sponsor and Official Supplier of .22 rimfire ammunition of the USA Shooting rifle and pistol teams since 2000. For more information on ELEY and their products, please visit www.eley.co.uk
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. Check us out on the web at www.usashooting.org
and on Twitter at twitter.com/USAShooting