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Caitlin Connor, Jeff Holguin, Dustan Taylor Earn Top Choices Of 2017 Shotgun World Cup Selection

By Craig Bohnert | Oct. 02, 2016, 10:48 p.m. (ET)

Caitlin Connor competes in the women's skeet finals at the Olympic Shooting Range "Trap Concaverde" at the ISSF World Championship Shotgun on Sept. 13, 2015 in Lonato, Italy.

Caitlin Connor, Jeff Holguin and Dustan Taylor emerged at the top of the charts of USA Shooting’s world cup team selection process with weekend victories at the Fall Selection Match at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center in Kerrville, Texas.

Results from one course of fire at July’s national championship were combined with two courses from the Fall Selection Match to determine start positions for the 2017 world cup season. The shooters with the highest aggregate score are awarded the choice of start positions at two of three world cup competitions, while the second- and third-highest each will have the choice of a start position at one world cup.

Connor, the 2015 world silver medalist, used wins in the weekend’s two finals to secure the top spot in women’s skeet standings, earning the choice of a start position at two of the three 2017 world cup events. A regular on the circuit since 2009, when she won silver in Minsk, Belarus, Connor has two other world cup silvers to her credit: Sydney in 2011 and Acapulco, Mexico, in 2015.

Dania Vizzi finished second in the women’s skeet aggregate standings, while Katie Jacob earned the third spot. Both will have the choice of one start position at one of next year’s world cup events. Six-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode scored two third-place finishes in the two finals in Texas, taking third place in Kerrville. Since she did not compete at the national championships as part of her preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Rhode will look to the national coach staff selection process to see if she will be tapped to fill remaining world cup slots.

Leading a strong showing by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Holguin claimed the top spot in the world cup selection process for men’s double trap. A member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, he held off fellow Olympian Glenn Eller to conclude the selection gauntlet with a six-point lead. Eller, a five-time Olympian who won gold in Beijing, surged into second in the standings on the strength of his performance in Texas, where he won both final rounds as well as one qualification match to give him the overall Fall Selection Match title.

Derek Haldeman finished third overall to complete a USAMU sweep of the top three world cup spots by the three U.S. Army sergeants. Hank Garvey, a 17-year-old high school senior from Newburyport, Massachusetts, placed fourth, completing 2016 as the top placing junior competitor at every 2016 national shotgun event.

With a second-place finish in the Fall Selection Match, Taylor walked away with top honors in world cup selection for men’s skeet, earning the coveted choice of two start positions. A USAMU member, Taylor celebrated his 24th birthday Saturday with a pair of silver-medal finishes in the finals to go with victories in two qualifying rounds, giving him an advantage in the world cup selection standings. Kyle Johnson, a senior at Lindenwood University, edged Taylor for the meet’s overall crown in a shoot-off to determine the final standings in Kerrville.

The other two world cup selection spots went to Zach McBee and Mark Staffen, a USAMU teammate of Taylor. With their final placement of second and third, respectively, they earn one choice for a world cup start position. 

The 2017 world cup schedule, which begins the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, opens in New Delhi, Feb. 22-March 4, followed by stops March 17-27 in Acapulco, Mexico, and April 28-May 8 in Lamaca, Cyprus. The 2017 season will be highlighted by the Shotgun World Championships, scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 9 in Moscow.

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