COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The top skeet athletes in the world will be on display starting Wednesday at the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club in Arizona for the second half of USA Shooting’s Shotgun Spring Selection. It’s only a bold claim if it’s not true and since six of last year’s World Championship medalists will be gunning for podium position, it’s a fairly accurate statement.
The stakes are high for the nation’s top shotgun competitors descending upon the warm-weather climate of Tucson, Arizona for USA Shooting’s Shotgun Spring Selection Match as Pan American Games, World Championship and World Cup selection spots are all on the line. Following an intense trap competition, skeet action starts Wednesday and concludes Saturday. Read the Trap recap here and the Mixed Team Trap competition recap here.
The depth of America’s ultra-talented skeet program now takes center stage with 250 shots plus a Final to decide top guns. Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, Louisiana) is beaming with confidence after being crowned World Champion and earning her first international victory last September. The competition is fierce in the women’s ranks with six-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) ready to duel and Amber English (Colorado Springs, Colorado) always up for a challenge. Those three swept the podium in Changwon, South Korea during World Championships last year.
If that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, then add 2017 World Champion and two-time reigning National Champion Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Florida) to the list of athletes primed to compete for the top spot. Then there’s also the fast-rising juniors including Junior World Champs silver medalist Austen Smith (Kellar, Texas) and 2017 Junior World Champion and two-time Junior National champion Katie Jacob (Rochester, Michigan). 2017 Jr. World Champs runner-up Sam Simonton (Gainesville, Georgia) is also a prime contender after finishing as the runner-up to Vizzi after a tie-breaker during Nationals.
Since 2017, seven different female skeet shooters have earned a podium spot at a USA Shooting Selection Match or Nationals with both Rhode and Vizzi each topping the podium three times.
On the men’s side, there’s a clear favorite that the rest of the field will try to stay close to and that’s two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time World Champion Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia). There’s been six domestic matches since 2016 and he’s won four of them and the two he didn’t finish as the gold medalist he did not even compete. All he did last year was win three World Cups, a World title, and both Selection matches. His Olympic teammate in 2016 and 2012, Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska), has found the podium four times during that same stretch.
Other contenders will include a trio of U.S. Army Marksmanship athletes including reigning national champion Christian Elliott (Greenville, Indiana), runner-up Dustan Taylor (Staley, North Carolina) and last year’s Spring Selection silver medalist Phillip Jungman (Caldwell, Texas). Additionally, Junior World Championships silver medalist Nic Moschetti (Broomfield, Colorado), junior national champion Eli Christman (Hixson, Tennessee) and Nationals bronze medalist Zach McBee (College Station, Texas) will likely factor into the standings.
The World Cup season for USA Shooting’s shotgun elite kicks off March 17 in Acapulco, Mexico. A top-two finish in Tucson will go a long way toward qualifying an athlete for Pan American Games selection, which will take place July 26-August 11 in Lima, Peru. A top-three standing is qualification for the World Championships for both open and junior athletes, which will be contested June 30-July 11 in Lonato, Italy. Top-three junior finishers will also be eligible for Junior World Cup Selection, July 12-20 on Suhl, Germany.
To view Trap and Mixed Team Trap Results, click here.
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