(Photo by Lucas Carter)

16 youth advance to Shooting Sports final round

After four rounds of shooting in the two-day preliminaries, 16 shooters have emerged from the sporter and precision categories to advance to the finals of The American Legion's 24th 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship. A champion in each category will be crowned tomorrow at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The eight shooters in the precision category - led by Samantha Peterson of Buffalo, Minn., with an aggregate score of 2,370 - qualified with ease as eighth-place finisher Cody Sanchez of Albuquerque, N.M., finished nine points ahead of the ninth-place shooter.

However, the sporter category's final qualifying positions remained up for grabs into the preliminaries' final round of shooting. Angel Reyes of Montgomery, N.Y., and David Trumbull, Jr., of Frederick, Md., claimed the final qualifying spots finishing seventh and eighth, respectively, after only a few points separated the seventh- through 10th-place sporter shooters throughout Friday. Reyes finished only three points ahead of the 10th-place finisher.

Andre Gross of Webster, N.Y., leads the sporter category by a wide margin with a score of 2,224. Madie Snyder of Kimball, Neb., sits behind him in second place with a score of 2,213.

Snyder rose steadily through the leaderboard throughout the prelims, eventually climbing into second place. After a first round that saw her shoot only a 537, she was in eighth place. But she shot 557 in the second round to reach fourth place, and eventually settled into the runner-up position by competition's end on Friday.

"First round was nereve-wracking," Snyder said. "I just had to pick it up from there because I was so far behind the leader."

In the precision category, the first- and second-place shooters finished with a 10-point cushion between them and the rest of the pack. Throughout the preliminaries, Peterson and Michael Steinel of New Philadelphia, Ohio, took turns sitting at the top of the leaderboard. With a score of 594 in the final round, Peterson finished ahead with a two-point edge on Steinel, whose aggregate score was 2,368.

"My gameplan coming was to focus on myself and have fun," Peterson said.

The competition's final will start tomorrow at 9 a.m. with the winners taking home a $2,500 scholarship. The complete results from the preliminaries can be viewed here.