by Paul D. Bowker
Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky (Colorado Springs, Colo.) who won a gold medal and locked down an Olympic quota spot at the Pan American Games, and junior women’s shooting star Mary Tucker (Sarasota, Fla.) emerged as the leaders Sunday after Stage I of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in air rifle shooting.
Kozeniesky had a two-day total of 1259.2 after two days of shooting at the Colorado Springs Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in the men’s competition to take the lead into the second stage of the Olympic Trials, which will be held in February.
Timothy Sherry (Ft. Benning, Ga.) was in second place with a score of 1256.4, William Shaner (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was third with a score of 1255.0 and Dempster Christenson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was fourth with 1252.7. Scores from the first stage carry over to the second stage.
On the women’s side, Tucker, a freshman at the University of Kentucky who placed third in the opening stage of Olympic Team Trials in smallbore shooting in October, took the lead in air rifle with a score of 1256.4, topping 2016 Olympic champion Ginny Thrasher (Springfield, Va.), among others.
Ali Weisz (Belgrade, Mont.), a Pan American Games gold medalist, was right behind her at 1256.0. Sarah Beard (Columbus, Ohio) was next with a score of 1255.1 and Mindy Miles(Weatherford, Texas), the silver medalist behind Weisz at the Pan Am Games, was at 1253.6. Thrasher, the Olympic Trials leader in smallbore, is in the hunt with a sixth-place score of 1250.0.
The Olympic Team Trials consists of two stages of competition. The second stage is set for Feb. 7-9 in Colorado Springs.
The U.S. has secured the maximum eight quota spots in rifle for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, including two men’s air rifle and two in women’s air rifle. The top two athletes in each gender will be named to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team following the second stage.
Nick Beach (Dresden, Ohio) was the leader in mixed 10-meter para air rifle SHI with a score of 1257.7 and Kevin Nguyen (Columbus, Ohio) was second with a score of 1253.4. McKenna Dahl (Arlington, Wash.), a 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist, was the leader in mixed standing 10-meter air rifle with a score of 1262.5, and also in mixed prone 10-meter with a score of 1268.0.
The opening stage for air pistol and para pistol is Dec. 15-16 in Colorado Springs.
For full rifle results click HERE.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic and Paralympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.