There was a Taz sighting in Tucson, and it had nothing to do with the Looney Tunes cartoon character. Luis “Taz” Gloria is your Fall Selection Match champion after upsetting a talented field that included two Olympians, the current U.S. Champion and a savvy veteran. A victory Monday also guarantees he’ll represent Team USA at his home range in the 2014 Tucson World Cup next April.
Not fazed by the experience before him, Gloria found himself competing for gold on the familiar grounds of the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club (TTSC), his home range. The moment wasn’t too big for Taz, the most inexperienced of the finalists that featured two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Ga.), 2012 Olympian Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.), 2013 U.S. Champion Dustin Perry (Crockett, Texas) and two-time Olympic Trials finalist Mark Weeks (Clinton Township, Mich.).
He would enter the gold-medal final to face Perry after defeating Hayden Stewart (Columbia, Tenn.), 2-1, in a shoot-off after the two tied in the semifinal hitting 15/16 shots. He’d again nail 15 targets in the final to defeat Perry by one target. Weeks would secure the bronze medal by defeating Stewart in another shootout, 4-3. Tied for the lead in qualifying, Thompson and Hancock would miss the medal rounds after each shot a 13/16 in the semifinals. Stewart’s performance would garner him a junior title in the event.
The stakes were high for this event with 2014 World Cup selection and World Championships qualifying status on the line. Top finishes earned competitors a return trip to Tucson where they’ll compete for Team USA during the 2014 Tucson World Cup, April 8-15.
Gloria, 18, was a member of the USA Shooting Team that competed in the 2013 World Clay Target Championships and brought back a bronze medal in the team event along with teammates Nick Boerboon (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Phillip Jungman (Caldwell, Texas). Jungman and Boerboon would finish second and third respectively in the junior men’s standings during Fall Selection.
When you win five Olympic medals like Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.), there’s simply nothing left to prove in your career. But always up for a good challenge, Rhode found one after becoming a mother to a bright-eyed baby boy this past May. It took her all of five months to get back to her winning ways with a commanding victory Monday in Tucson. She outshot all competitors, male or female, by three targets missing just eight total following 280 shots over three days. She faced-off against Spring Selection Match champion Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) in the final defeating her 16-13. In the bronze-medal match, Haley Dunn (St. Joe, Texas) and reigning National Champion Amber English (Colorado Springs, Colo.) would duel in a rematch of their gold-medal final from the 2013 National Championships, but this time it was Dunn coming out on the winning end by a score of 13-11. Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Fla.) and Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.) were the other two finalists with Vizzi also securing a junior title during the event.
Earlier in the week, Double Trap World Champions Glenn Eller (Houston, Texas) scored wire-to-wire wins at a blustery match Thursday. A week ago, Alex Reinnert (Surfside, Fla.) secured his first major open division win in trap while Rachael Heiden (Clinton, Mich.) strengthened her season results with a win to go along with her third U.S. title in four years, a World Cup top-six finish and fourth-place finish at the recent World Clay Target Championships.
For complete 2013 Fall Selection Match results, click here:
While the Fall Selection Match brought to a close a long season of shooting for most, there’s still one match remaining for the year’s top World Cup performers including six Americans. The International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Final starts October 23 with Men’s and Women’s Trap. Representing the USA Shooting Team will be Olympic medalists Vincent Hancock (skeet/Eatonton, Ga.), Glenn Eller (double trap/Houston, Texas) and Corey Cogdell (trap/Eagle River, Alaska) along with 2012 Olympian and 2013 U.S. Champion Josh Richmond (double trap/Hillsgrove, Pa.), reigning two-time U.S. Champion Brian Burrows (trap/Fallbrook, Calif.) and 2013 Junior World Champion Ian Rupert (double trap/Muncy, Pa.). Sixty athletes in total will compete.