Garner Attention: TCU Sophomore Dominates Women’s Smallbore Rifle Competition at 2017 NJOSC
Talk about a way to Garner attention. That’s exactly what Rachel Garner did in winning the Women’s Three-Position Rifle competition Sunday at the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) taking place at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The Texas Christian University (TCU) sophomore from Celina, Texas was the standout performer in a talented field. Firing back-to-back world-level qualifying scores of 587 and 585, her 1,172 cumulative score was dominant enough to earn her the victory and render the Final meaningless for the top podium spot given she had a nine-point advantage on second-best qualifier Olympic gold medalist and West Virginia University sophomore Ginny Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia).
USA Shooting’s Performance Standard Score (PSS) in Women’s Three-Position Rifle is 583. That score is used as a performance evaluator and depicts the average score needed to be in consideration of a Finals spot in most World Cup Finals. Top-two Junior Olympic finishers automatically earn a spot on the Junior World Championship team that will compete later this summer in Suhl, Germany. A third-spot is possibly available as a coaches’ selection and will be named upon the conclusion of the match.
After having already secured the win, Garner finished third in the Final. Thrasher showcased her presence once in the Final, edging freshman teammate and 2017 NCAA Rifle Champion Morgan Phillips (Salisbury, Maryland) for third by just .2 points.
Garner’s performance backs up an outstanding match she had during this year’s NCAA Rifle Championship. She was the top qualifier in Smallbore and then finished fourth in the Final. She was the second-best qualifier in Air Rifle there too and ended up third overall in that event. Garner was runner-up in the smallbore (.22 caliber) event at last year’s NJOSC.
“It’s really just a blessing,” Garner said afterwards. “It’s something you work towards spending hours on the range. I think it really comes down to all the mental training my coach (Karen Monez) has been helping me with. You can be at a level technique wise, but letting yourself do that and perform and know that you can, so it’s been a huge blessing to be able to see that.
On what it means to be a Junior Olympic Champion and now a Junior World Championship Team member Garner added, “It’s a dream come true and just a tremendous honor.”
Thrasher had a four-point advantage over Phillips heading into the Final and her Finals win and overall silver medal helped conclude her NJOSC career. She’ll now look to round out her Junior career as a Junior World Champion.
“I think my performance over the last two days was really a learning opportunity for me,” Thrasher admitted. “I’m very excited to have made the Junior World Championship Team and I think for me it’s another great opportunity to travel again this summer. To go there and wear the Red, White and Blue, no matter what competition you’re doing that at, it’s just an honor to be there.”
Asked about what coming back to NJOSC meant to her as the reigning Olympic gold medalist, she had this to say. “Honestly, it’s been very humbling to see how many people want to take pictures and get an autograph. But, also, they’ve all been so respectful of the fact that I’m here to compete. I take the fact that people want that from me very seriously and for me it’s a great opportunity to mingle with all the juniors. The juniors are what keeps the sport alive.”
Thrasher was recently in New York City attending the 87th annual James E. Sullivan Award ceremony in which she was among seven finalists in recognition of the nation’s top amateur athlete. University of Wisconsin volleyball star Lauren Carlini earned the top honor.
The 2017 J2 (ages 15-17) champion was Kristen Hemphill (Lohn, Texas), the lone J2 competitor in today’s Final and the seventh-place overall finisher. Joining Hemphill on that podium was silver medalist Taylor Gibson (Salem, Oregon) and bronze medalist Noelle Christensen (Fredericksburg, Texas). In the J3 (ages 14 and younger), it was Katie Zaun (Buffalo, New York) earning the top podium spot for the third consecutive year followed by Emily Brock (Delmont, South Dakota) and Marleigh Duncan (Wake Forest, North Carolina) in second and third place respectively.
There’s 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) with more than 790 athletes competing in NJOSC competition in 2017. Athletes invited to Colorado Springs comprise the top tier of athletes that competed in a state level events totaling 2,658 competitors. The NJOSC will feature the top 30 percent of all competitors in 2017 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 10 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).
The competition now shifts over to a two-day Air Rifle match starting Monday and concluding Tuesday with another Qualification match plus a Finals.
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