There are few things that mean more to youth across America participating in the shooting sports than the opportunity to compete in the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC). That opportunity became reality for 607 rifle and pistol athletes Thursday when USA Shooting unveiled the first-round invites for the annual April event in Colorado Springs.
With that invite comes the possibility for an athlete to try and earn a spot to compete for their country at the 2019 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup, set for July 12-20 in Suhl, Germany. That distinction will go to the top three finishers in each of the eight events.
Junior Olympic Invitations were sent to 607 athletes representing 48 states. They were selected following championship competition at the state level which totaled 2,306 competitors. The NJOSC will feature the top 34 percent of all competitors in 2019 and will feature invitees that either won their state championship or were selected based on a score they attained. The competitors range in age from nine to 20 years old, and are classified according to age as J1 (ages 18-20), J2 (ages 15-17) or J3 (ages 14 and younger).
Top scoring qualifiers include five current National Junior Team members. Top qualifiers included: Emily Stith (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit/Jacksonville, Florida) and Texas Christian University freshman Kristen Hemphill (Lohn, Texas) earned high qualification marks in Women’s Air Rifle (599) and Women’s Smallbore Rifle (585); Sarah Choe (Los Angeles, California), for a third consecutive year, earned top qualifying score in Women’s Sport Pistol with a score of 574 and also earned high score this year in Women’s Air Pistol with a 567; Jackson Leverett (Bainbridge, Georgia) was top Men’s Air Pistol qualifier (567); and University of Kentucky freshman Will Shaner (Colorado Springs, Colorado) hit top marks in both Men’s Smallbore (.22 caliber) Rifle with a 587 and Men’s Air Rifle with a 598.
Top state representation includes a healthy contingent of athletes from Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Colorado and Washington. The top club showing once again will be the National Training Center (NTC) Junior Club with 38 athletes, including both Stith and Shaner as alumni of the successful program. Nine-year-old Men’s Pistol competitor Justin Saylor (Tifton, Georgia) earns the distinction as the youngest participant in the field while the 11-year-old Women’s Rifle competitor Briley Sralla (Round Mountain, Texas) is the youngest female competitor. They are among a group of 57 invites awarded to J3 athletes (14 years and younger), an increase of 17 competitors in this division from 2018.
In addition, seven Paralympic competitors have earned the opportunity to compete during NJOSC including last year’s participants Gracie Hoyt (Mullen, Nebraska), Moira Antal(Bealeton, Virginia) and National Junior Team member Stetson Bardfield (Colorado Springs, Colorado) along with J2 competitor Louis Slauterbeck (Port Clinton, Ohio), and J3 competitors Sidney Knight (Oil City, Pennsylvania), Ben Hays (Annandale, Virginia) and Ella Murray (Alexandria, Virginia).
Check the complete list of 2019 NJOSC Invites here:
The 20-day spectacle of youth competition begins Sunday, April 7 with Men’s Rifle, which leads into Women’s Rifle beginning April 14 and concludes with the Junior Pistol program and Paralympic Air Rifle starting April 21. All competitions give athletes the opportunity to train and compete at the USA Shooting indoor ranges on location at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
2019 NJOSC Schedules