COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The University of Memphis rifle team is coming off back-to-back stellar performances to wrap up the fall portion of its 2019-20 schedule, and the Tigers are off from collegiate action until mid-January 2020.
However, the Memphis squad is not spending the entire break away from the range. The Tigers were busy last weekend at the USA Winter Air Gun Championships and Olympic Trials. Five of the six squad members and graduate assistant coach Alison Weisz competed in the Dec. 6-8 event, and had a successful performance.
Weisz, a first-year graduate assistant coach for Memphis, finished second overall in the women’s air gun and is on track to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Last weekend’s competition – which included two matches and a final – is the first of two Weisz has to go through to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Weisz placed second with a total score of 1256.0. Mary Tucker won the first qualifier with a score of 1256.4. Weisz, an Ole Miss graduate, shot a 1254.0 after the two matches and followed with a 184.0 in the final. Weisz finished second out of 215 female shooters.
The second U.S. Olympic qualifying competition with the same format (2 matches followed by a final) is set for mid-February. If Weisz is one of the top two shooters after the second qualifier, then she is one of the two female shooters to represent the United States in the event at the 2020 Olympic Games.
“Ali did extremely well last weekend,” said Memphis third-year head coach Dan Hermsmeier. “We’ve been friends for a long time, and I really wanted to bring her on to the staff this year to share her expertise, her training regimen and her success stories to help our team get to that next level.
“She just showed why she is one of the best air gun shooters in the nation. I’m really proud to have her on staff, and she has our support in her qualification process for the Olympics.”
At the juniors level, freshman Taylor Gibson placed fifth overall out of 188 shooters. She shot a two-day match score of 1240.5 with a final mark of 182.5.
“Taylor also shot extremely well last weekend,” Hermsmeier said. “She worked hard after some rough travel up to Colorado with the rest of the team. She regrouped and did what she needed to do to compete well.
“The field of juniors (shooters) was really good this year, and the field gets more competitive each year. To go into a national match like this and come out in a good position – fifth overall in the juniors division – is especially huge as a college freshman. She had a lot of national experience from her ROTC days in Oregon, but this was her first opportunity to qualify and compete in a big match. Her fifth-place finish was a huge accomplishment, and I’m proud of her.”
Levi Clark (42nd) and Matt Dorey (27th) shot in the the men’s air gun championships. David Crenshaw (35th) and Mark Meyeraan (49th) competed in the men’s juniors championships.
“The rest of the team did really well too,” said Hermsmeier. “To go out to this event and shoot some good scores shows how hard we’ve been working this semester. This was a good midway point of the season for us to use this match for collecting experience that we can use to finish strong next semester and qualify for the NCAA Championships.”