Pistol team wins a national title
The Citadel Olympic style pistol team qualified a record number of individuals and teams in a record number of events for the Collegiate National Pistol Championships at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. They also won the Standard Pistol Championship and received trophy plaques for the Joel S. Sexton Trophy in honor of their teams coach of 40 years.
For the first time this year a ladies team in both Sport Pistol and Air Pistol was qualified, said Coach Robert Patton, '88. It is also the first time a female cadet has qualified individually in Sport Pistol. Both senior Chelsea Marsh and sophomore Brittaney Maples were among the top 15 women shooters in this .22-caliber event. Qualifying individually allowed them to shoot for individual medals. They are the first Citadel lady shooters to qualify individually in Sport Pistol.
The Ladies Sport Pistol Team finished in fourth place with Marsh qualifying for finals in fifth place. Marsh shot with the final eight to determine the medal winners. Marsh is the first woman to qualify for a final shoot off. This was the first ladies team to be invited to shoot Sport Pistol at the College Nationals.
Coach Joel Sexton said the team's coaches were excited about the hard work and performance of the lady cadets, especially the three rookies. The third member of the Ladies Sport Pistol Team is Emily Schwendinger.
The Ladies Air Pistol Team finished in fifth place behind the likes of the U.S. Naval Academy, Ohio State, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Citadel Pistol Team is a club sport and competes against other club teams as well as varsity teams from around the nation. Other schools participating in the competition were U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Yale University, Utah State and University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
"This is the best showing ever for our ladies air pistol team," said Coach Lee Gessner, Class of 2000. "We are pleased that we have four strong returning lady shooters for next year. They are Maples, Schwendinger, Kaylynn Wells, who was our alternate at the nationals, and Heather DeBoer."
A record number of male cadets qualified individually this year with four in free pistol, three in air pistol and four in standard pistol. The top four teams in air pistol and standard pistol were separated by 11 and 23 points respectively out of 2,400 points in the qualifying sectionals.
Despite shooting trouble caused by cold weather, The Citadel Standard Pistol Team members were national champions. The winning team score of 2132 X 2400 was achieved by senior and past team Captain Matt Bowden (542 X 600), fifth year senior Chris Hudock ( 535 X 600), sophomore Pierce Norlin (529 X 600) and Ben Moore ( 526 X 600).
The last time The Citadel won the National Standard Pistol Championship was in 1987 when Head Coach Robert Patton was team captain. The Joel S. Sexton Standard Pistol Trophy was crafted by assistant coach Thelbert Almond in honor of the many years Coach Sexton has mentored the team.
The air pistol team placed sixth and the free pistol team finished in fifth place.
Bowden was The Citadel's highest shooter in all the open events with a 511X 600 in free pistol, a 556 X 600 air pistol and 542 X 600 in standard pistol. With these scores Bowden earned the national title of National Three Gun Aggregate Champion.
The open team's grand aggregate score, which incorporates open air pistol, free pistol, and standard pistol put them third overall in the nation.
Coach Sexton, who has taken The Citadel team to all 32 of the National Collegiate Championships, said this year the top seven schools had excellent teams that were closely matched.
"It was a fiercely contested championship and all of our team members put forth their best effort," he said.
The men representing The Citadel were Moore, Norlin, Bowden, seven-time All-American Hudock and Mackenzie Shealy.
Moore was named to the 2013 Air Pistol Team, Hudock was named to the Standard Pistol All American Team and Marsh became The Citadel's first female All-American when she was chosen for the Ladies Sport's Pistol All American Team. Bowden made the Free Pistol and Air Pistol All American Teams.