On Aug. 11, the 22nd annual American Legion Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship crowned two champions—Colt Gross from North Augusta, S.C., won precision category and Cody Sanchez from Los Lunas, N.M., won sporter category. Both national champions received a $2,500 college scholarship donated by the Sons of The American Legion.
The final round of the shooting competition got under way at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Saturday morning with an intimate crowd of family and friends, along with special guests Fang A. Wong, national commander of The American Legion and Auxiliary National President Kris Nelson. The top eight sporter category competitors were first to stand side-by-side and fire 10 single shots in standing position. And when Sanchez realized he won his third national title in two years, he was excited that his birthday wish for his mom came true.
"I won this competition for her (mother Victoria) birthday," Sanchez said. "My mom is my coach and the main thing she tells me most of the time is, ‘You got this.'"
The eight precision category shooters immediately followed their lead, and for once, Gross wasn't a few shooting points behind first place.
"It feels so good (to win) because I haven't won a national championship before," Gross said. "This event is a lot more important to me because there's only 14 other precision (competitors) and usually there is around 80 or so in other competitions."
Gross said air rifle shooting requires concentration as it's a "head game." So when he stood in line during the Legion's championship finals, "I had to repeat in my head that it's only me, my rifle, and my target."
Final results for the eight competitors in each category can be found here .
Top five finishers: Precision (out of a possible 2509 points)
1. Colt Gross — 2457.5, from North Augusta, S.C., and sponsored by Legion Post 71
2. Rachael Schoenrock — 2319.7, from Beatrice, Neb., and sponsored by Legion Post 27
3. Hunter Cushman — 2310.2, from King George, Va., and sponsored by Legion Post 89
4. Todd Mazur — 2303.9, from Killeen, Texas, and sponsored by Legion Post 22
5. Iran Rodriquez — 2277.2, from Zion, Ill., and sponsored by Legion Post 865
Top five finishers: Sporter (out of a possible 2509 points)
1. Sanchez — 2330.2, from Los Lunas, N.M., and sponsored by Legion Post 85
2. Alan Agnew — 2451.9, from Puyallup, Wash., and sponsored by Legion Post 167
3. Patrick Sunderman — 2451.8, from Anoka, Minn., and sponsored by Legion Post 102
4. Joshua Black — 2435.4, from Yorktown, Va., and sponsored by Legion Post 233
5. Mitchell Van Patten — 2433.8, from Meridian, Idaho, and sponsored by Legion Post 113