Riding a wave of momentum that carried her to individual NCAA titles in air rifle and smallbore just three weeks earlier, Virginia Thrasher overcame a field crowded with more experienced competitors to earn her first to the Olympic Games by winning the women’s three-position rifle at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore on Monday in Fort Benning, Georgia.
The talented freshman led West Virginia University to the collegiate team title and was name Top Performer of the NCAA Championship last month. In Georgia, she faced down a field that included the likes of 2012 Olympians Sarah Scherer and Amanda Furrer and Sarah Beard, who won the 2015 national championships in women’s prone rifle and air rifle.
Thrasher was in third place behind Beard and Scherer after the first day of competition, but used a strong showing on Sunday to vault past them, powered by a win in the final round and the eight bonus points that accompany the victory. She entered Monday’s final day of shooting with an aggregate score of 1,189, seven points ahead of Scherer and 17 up on Beard.
Thrasher added to her lead with a 586 score in Monday's qualifying round and finished with an aggregate score of 1,781, nine points ahead of Scherer’s 1,772 and 19 ahead of Beard.
Thrasher earned her way onto the national team with a stellar performance at the 2015 U.S. championships, where she won five medals, three in junior competition and two in open competition. The Springfield, Virginia, native is a three-time Virginia state smallbore medalist and holds more than 20 USA Shooting and National Rifle Association records.