Freshman excels at Junior Olympics shooting competition

Freshman excels at Junior Olympics shooting competition

Meredith Haggerty, In-Depth Editor

Freshman Julia Dukes travels to Colorado over spring break to compete in the Junior Olympics shooting competition. The nerves are building up as she is about to shoot her first shots of the day. This competition could help better her national rank and eventually help her get to the Olympics. With all of this running through her mind, she loads up her air pistol, focuses on her target, and pulls the trigger.  The shot flies through the air and hits the target

In the competition, Dukes shot 40 shots a day for two days. In her division, ages 15 to 18, she finished twelfth out of 45 or 50 competitors, and overall she finished twenty-third out of around 100 competitors.  She is now ranked thirty-fourth in the nation.

Shooting isn’t her only talent. Dukes participates in pentathlons all over the country. A pentathlon consists of horseback riding over a course of three-foot-six-inch jumps, swimming 200 meters, fencing, running, and shooting.

Her most recent pentathlon was the national championships over the summer in Colorado at the Olympic Training Center.  She finishedthird in fencing, first in horseback riding, first in swimming, second in running, and first in shooting. Overall, she placed first in her division.

“I would consider pentathlons a passion and I love doing them. I definitely want and plan to continue to do pentathlons and travel around the world competing. It would be such an accomplishment to me if I made it to the Olympics for Pentathlon in 2020,” Dukes said.

But making it to the Olympics will not be an easy task. In shooting and pentathlon in the United States, 1,000 people participate at any given time at all different ages and levels. The United States is allotted a space or two for our team based on the world rankings.

“You could say my chances are one in a thousand. Currently, I am ranked 34th in the nation for 10m air pistol and would need to improve to the top position over the next seven years in shooting. In pentathlon, I am probably ranked a little bit higher, but I really won’t know until I am sixteen when I am eligible for U.S. World Rankings,” Dukes said.

Although Dukes recently had an injury to her ankle sustained outside of her training, she does not think that will interfere with her aspirations to improve her national ranking and possibly partake in the 2020 Olympics. According to Dukes, “doing these or any sports makes you vulnerable to injury, and it’s just something that can make you stronger and more determined to reach your goal.”

Meredith Haggerty is an In-Depth Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.