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Local duo qualifies for Jr. Olympics

Courtesy photo Derek Keiser, right, and Garrett Shipley practice at the Fort Harmar Rifle Club for their upcoming trip to the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs.

Two members of the Fort Harmar Rifle Club Junior Rifle Team have qualified for the Junior Olympics.

Derek Keiser, 18, qualified for the fourth time while Garrett Shipley, 14, made it for the first time. Both placed well enough at the olympic qualifier at West Virginia University to earn their spot.

“Garrett’s actually the youngest I’ve ever had make it,” said coach Scott Steinel.

Keiser, on the other hand, has plenty of experience competing at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The Ohio State signee won the state championship in air rifle and small bore and has high expectations for himself.

“As far as placement, I want to be top 15 in both,” said Keiser, who signed with the Buckeyes last November. “It’s really just all about putting in my best effort.”

Steinel, who will accompany the duo in April and believes Keiser can compete for the gold, added “expectations are high. I’m expecting him to shoot top 10 this year. No pressure, but he’s very capable of it.”

For Shipley, Steinel wants the youngster to take it all in and perform to the best of his ability.

“I always tell them their first year that there’s a ‘wow’ factor involved,” he said. “Many kids don’t do extremely well their first time, so I just tell them to shoot your average and everything will be fine.

“You have to be honest with yourself.”

Shipley has been with the team for two years, and will compete in air rifle at the Junior Olympics.

Keiser will be getting a taste of what’s to come. Competing in J1 (ages 18-20), he expects to compete against people who he will see in the future at the collegiate level.

“He’ll be shooting against people from WVU and Ohio State and all over,” Steinel said. “These are some of the people he’ll be seeing the next four years. One of the kids going to the Junior Olympics is also going to Tokyo (for the 2020 Olympic Games).”

It’s a big opportunity for two local athletes.

“Most people don’t realize that we’re sending two people who are top 200 in the United States,” Steinel said. “That’s kind of cool.”

Keiser, who lives in Vienna, said “It’s really exciting to get to compete side-by-side against the best in the country. It’s an honor to represent West Virginia and the Fort Harmar Rifle Club.”

Jordan Holland can be reached at jholland@mariettatimes.com.

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