Statesboro High Air Rifle athlete heads to Junior Olympics

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A freshman member of the Statesboro High School air rifle team has earned an invite to the 2022 National Junior Rifle Olympic Championships hosted by USA Shooting.

“It’s an extremely competitive sport, and at this level it’s almost impossible for a high school freshman to qualify,” said Lt. Col. (Retired) Eric Heffner, coach of the Statesboro High School Precision Air Rifle Team.

Katlyn Sullivan and her family will travel to Hillsdale, Michigan for the pageant scheduled for May 11-15 at the Margot V. Biermann Center on the Hillsdale College campus. During the event, she and other competitors will spend the first day training and gearing up for competition, then Thursday through Saturday, then competitively shooting 60 shots a day in the qualifying rounds, and Sunday will be the final for men and women who qualified to progress. Competing is quite an honor as some of the best athletes in the country will be there.

Katlyn, 15, is the daughter of James and Kathleen Sullivan of Statesboro. She qualified for this invitation-only slot after competing in a Georgia USA shooting event at the Ole Mill Range Resort in Griffin, Georgia. She, along with other air rifle athletes from high schools and colleges across the state, met in an attempt to post high enough scores to bring them closer to their dreams of being future Olympians or to obtain scholarships or collegiate shooting positions at the university. level teams.

Katlyn’s grandfather, John Sullivan, who is a former Marine, was the first to begin teaching his granddaughter how to handle firearms properly, and she would frequently accompany him on hunts. She showed a natural interest in shooting, and her parents began enrolling her in various summer camps at the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center (SSEC) in Statesboro. Her father, James, recalls that when they took Katlyn to attend her first GA Southern Women’s rifle competition at SSEC, that was when she expressed a sincere desire to take up the sport. Ashley MacAllister, the Deputy Director of SSEC, is Katlyn’s primary private air rifle coach in addition to her high school coach, Lt. Col. (Retired) Eric Heffner.

Counselors, administrators and teachers at Statesboro High School worked with Katlyn and her family to accommodate this opportunity, as the USA Shooting event takes place at a time when high school students are taking national tests of advanced level, state end-of-course tests and other final tests. exams as they prepare for the end of the school year.

“It is only through the cooperation of organizations such as yours that we can enable these

athletes to truly experience this level of competition,” said Breanne Orey, Competitions and Membership Manager for USA Shooting, in a letter to Statesboro High School and district administrators asking for Katlyn’s support to attend the competition this week. . with the best shooters in the United States and the world makes this match one of the most competitive events they will attend,” Orey said in his letter.

Katlyn is a member of the Statesboro High School Precision Air Rifle Team, and she receives accolades from her coach, Lt. Col. (Retired) Eric Heffner, who is also a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC) instructor. ) for school. Rifle being a Georgia High School Association (GHSA) sport, many JROTC instructors serve as coaches due to their military background. In fact, the GHSA Riflery State Championship was recently held in Statesboro on April 22-23 at the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center.

“The maximum score an athlete can score in Precision Air Riflery is 300 points, and to qualify for the GHSA State Championships an athlete must score at least 292 points. Katlyn’s highest score is 290 , which is amazing for a freshman who just started shooting competitively in June.”

Air Riflery began at Statesboro High in 1982 when the JROTC department was formed, and it was originally part of ROTC’s Raider competitions. When it became a GHSA-sanctioned sport, SHS formed an athletic team. Athletes compete by shooting in three positions: prone, standing and kneeling. Lt. Col. Heffner works closely with Katlyn’s leading private trainer, Ashley MacAllister, to help develop the teen’s talent.

Established in 1995, USA Shooting is the national governing body for international shooting sports in the United States. He oversees the Olympic Shooting Range and Olympic Shooting Park at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, which serves as the primary training site and headquarters for the United States National Team, the national development team and the coaching staff and full-time staff who manage our country’s participation in international shooting sports like the Olympics.

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