Wolford High School senior earns spot on National Junior Olympic Squad
By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
Hannah Walsh, a senior at Wolford High School, has had experience shooting guns since she was young. She hunted grouse with her dad. But it wasn’t until she joined the Wolford shooting program four years ago when she started to shoot competitively.
Her shooting career has lifted off since. On April 22-25, Walsh competed at the National Junior Olympic Pistol Championship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Walsh placed third in the 10 meter women’s air pistol, which placed her on the National Junior Olympic Pistol Squad.
“I had a great time and was excited to be there,” Walsh said. “I was honored to be invited in the first place. Doing as well as I did, I was amazed and really proud. I was happy to have the hard work pay off for me.”
After finishing ninth last year, Walsh set a goal to make the finals this year, which is the top eight.
Walsh said she didn’t expect to make the top three, but Wolford Shooting Club coach Bill Langer knew it was a possibility.
“I was hoping to make the top eight so I can make it into the finals round,” Walsh said. “The top three was not something I truly believed I was going to be able to do. I didn’t think I’d be able to make the medal stage. My coach told me that he knew I could do it. But I never thought I’d do that well, especially against the type of competition down there.”
Being on the National Junior Olympic Pistol Squad allows Walsh to train with the national coaches and go to clinics and camps at the Olympic Training Center. If she continues shooting like she is, they may elect to take her to a world cup somewhere.
The squad is like the C-squad while the national junior team is the JV and the national team is basically the Olympic team.
The top two finishers at the National Junior Olympic Pistol Championship make the junior team and third place makes the junior squad.
“Both the team and squad allow junior athletes to work with the national coaching staff and are the first stepping stone on the road for any junior shooting athlete to become a future Olympic athlete,” Langer said.
Walsh’s week ended with receiving her squad jacket from National Assistant Pistol Coach Steve Faught.
“It’s such a learning experience for anybody that goes to any type of national competition,” Langer said. “To be at a training center where the Olympic athletes are training, they don’t let you intermingle much with the athletes, but it’s the atmosphere of being in that arena. Training and shooting in the same place as the Olympic athletes, it’s an honor. Your shooting against the best of the best to compete for a place possibly on the Olympic team if that’s where you want to go and this is the road if you want to get there.”
Walsh’s plan next school year is to attend the University of North Dakota with a major in Nursing and a minor in Psychology.
As far as her competitive shooting career, she hopes it’s far from over.
“I’m positive I will keep shooting,” Walsh said. “I’m hoping to start a program this summer so I can practice. Now that I made the Junior Olympic Pistol Squad, I will be working with some of my national coaches. I’ll be traveling to different places with them to practice. My future goal right now is to make the national development team.”