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Walsh savors national competition

By Staff | Apr 25, 2014

Submitted Photo Wolford School sophomore Hannah Walsh (left) poses with two-time Olympic gold medalist Lones Wigger and Wolford assistant coach Melissa Langer at the National Junior Olympic Air Pistol competition earlier this month.

There’s no question which shooting discipline is now the favorite of Wolford School sophomore Hannah Walsh.

Competing in just her second and third pistol matches, Walsh placed 55th out of 71 women in the National Junior Olympic Air Pistol competition April 10 and 11 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The experience was awe-inspiring for the up-and-comer.

“That was just incredible,” Walsh said. “It was so different and everything was so big and well put together. It was really professional and great to be at a place where people go to work as the pride of America.”

Walsh had a two-day total of 630 out of a possible 800. The winning score was 769 by Lydia Paterson of Kansas. The difference separating Walsh and a top-50 spot was just 16 points.

“I think she did great,” Wolford coach Bill Langer said. “In all honesty, going to the National Junior Olympic Championship and shooting the second and third match of your air pistol career is an awesome thing. The best thing is her scores went up each time. It was a great experience for a young shooter and for a coach.”

Walsh received an invitation to the event as an at-large selection after posting a one-round score of 294 at the state championship in Minot in January. At nationals, she shot 308 and 322.

In Colorado, she was shooting on electronic targets in one of the nicest facilities the sport has to offer.

“Some of the best advice was to just keep going,” Walsh said. “No matter what I shot the first day or the second day, that’s all behind me and keep pushing and the next score will be better.”

Walsh received advice from national coaches, Olympians, range officers and other athletes.

“One thing is she’s dedicated,” Langer said. “She practices, she listens to coaching, she takes advice. If something doesn’t work she asks about it. She’s very coachable. She wants to improve and she hasn’t been shooting long enough to have any bad habits.”

Langer joined Walsh on the trip along with her mother and sister. She prepared by practicing about five days week following the invitation in early February. She also competes in rifle, but feels more comfortable with pistol and now knows what it takes to compete at the national level.

“It was extremely educational and a really great trip,” Walsh said. “The experience I got and the advice I got from a lot of people really motivated me to continue and move forward with it.”

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