Classic SSUSA: Kings & Queens At 2004 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships

At the 2004 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships, two pairs took the pot.

by
posted on February 15, 2024
2004 Throwback College Pistol 1
In 2004, the nation’s top collegiate pistol shooters came to Fort Benning, Ga., for the 24th edition of the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships. Here, Lauren Keefe, from the United States Naval Academy, shows the incredible concentration so common to these talented competitors.
Chad Adams

From the vault: Back in 2004, Fort Benning’s state-of-the-art air gun range once again hosted the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships. That year—which marked the 24th for the competition—the service academies and Ohio State University dominated the team and individual competitions. As published in the June 2004 issue of Shooting Sports USA.


Kings & Queens: Two Pairs Take The Pot At The 2004 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships
Story and Photos by Chad Adams

Though all sound is muffled, you are keenly aware of everything around you. While the extraneous is blocked away, perceptive senses still detect small changes in light or the speed of wind. The hand struggles, fights against its own pulse, as adrenaline-riding butterflies fall into formation deep inside. And every four feet, there’s a scoreboard letting you know the exact grade of the hill you must climb. You’re square in the middle of the finals, and everyone’s counting on you. Can you handle the pressure?

After hundreds of competitors representing several universities and service academies fired thousands upon thousands of rounds, it was simply a two-horse race in the end. It came down to a pair of schools, a pair of shooters and a pair of outstanding shooting displays.

With only three different winners in five individual events, and six team-titles split by just three different schools, the 24th Annual NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships were overwhelmed with dominating performances, March 16-20, 2004, in Fort Benning, Ga.

Charting the course were Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy. Navy shooters took individual first-place finishes in three events. Senior Justin Salvia won a pair, taking the 25-Meter Standard Pistol and 10-Meter Air Pistol event, while junior Michael Gleeson claimed the 50-Meter Free Pistol event.

After falling to his teammate, Gleeson, by less than a point in the first finals showdown of the tournament, Salvia rebounded in extremely strong fashion. The senior leader for the Midshipmen blasted the competition in the remaining finals by nearly six and four points, respectively, en route to one of the more dominating performances of the week. His work not only earned him two match titles, Salvia also went on to take the Overall Individual Championship, with a healthy 59-point margin over second-place Levi Hendrix, who was shooting out of Northeast Mississippi Community College.

“I wanted to shoot a 565—that was my goal,” said Salvia, who posted a match-high 554 in the 25-Meter Standard Pistol. “I always set my goals a little high.”

Jessica Marshall
At the 2004 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., Ohio State senior Jessica Marshall collected her second consecutive set of titles in the Women’s Air Pistol Individual Championship and Women’s Sport Pistol Individual Championship.

 

If Salvia was king of the men’s competitions, then Ohio State’s Jessica Marshall was undoubtedly the queen of the pistol championships. During several stages of the competition, a healthy crowd formed around the Columbus royalty, and most seemed to always walk away shaking their heads. After two consecutive years of dominating the collegiate ranks, Marshall drew an obvious amount of respect from her peers.

In nearly a repeat performance of the 2003 championships, Marshall extended her reign as the best female collegiate shooter in the country, defending her two titles successfully. Marshall, a fifth-year senior, won the Women’s 10-Meter Air Pistol and 25-Meter Sport Pistol, while also placing third in the 10-Meter Air Pistol.

“Coming back the second time was pretty neat,” Marshall said. “Looking back, there are always things you could have done better, but I’m happy with my performance, overall.”

Even more convincing than Marshall’s near 11-point margin of victory in sport pistol was her resolve going into the finals of 10-Meter Air Pistol. With a seemingly safe six-point advantage heading into the bonus round, Marshall’s sighting sessions were sporadic at best. But once the final round began, she was able to steady herself, shoot well and come away with an 8.2-point victory.

“I absolutely love shooting in finals, but absolutely hate being in first,” Marshall said. “I love the chase.”

“I’ve never coached an athlete with Jessica’s intelligence and tenacity,” Ohio State Coach James Sweeney said. “Her leadership, dedication, enthusiasm, her class ... I hope not, but [she] might have been a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. And even though I may have someone in the future who shoots Jessica Marshall’s scores, she can never be replaced for her contribution to the team. She is by far the best athlete I’ve ever coached,” Sweeney, who also coached gymnastics for 15 years, said.

Marshall’s stellar performance, combined with a strong showing from teammate Jennifer Trickett, a junior who placed second in the Women’s 25-Meter Sport Pistol, led the Buckeyes to team titles in Women’s 10-Meter Air Pistol and 25-Meter Sport Pistol. With Trickett returning next year, as well as what Sweeney describes as a good incoming class, the Buckeyes should be primed for another run.

Much like the service academies, Ohio State University is one of the select schools that receive a tremendous amount of official university support for their shooting teams. So, it should come as no surprise that the Buckeyes—along with the Cadets and Midshipmen—usually are among the nation’s elite shooting teams. That fact is certainly not lost on Sweeney.

“This program is wonderful,” Sweeney, who received the 2004 NRA Distinguished College Coach award, said. “I’ve never been involved with a program so intense and so friendly. It’s an unbelievable group. I have to recognize the Ohio State University Department of Athletics for their willingness to support 35 diverse varsity sports, giving opportunity to many different sporting interests.

Meanwhile, yet another team from Columbus, Ohio—the Ohio State ROTC squad, claimed first place in the 25-Meter Standard ROTC team-only event. In all, five titles were carried back to Buckeye country in 2004—two individuals, two team and the ROTC championship.

Equally dominating in team competition was the United States Naval Academy, which like Marshall, easily defended its 2003 title by a staggering 130 points. Led by Salvia, Midshipmen Gleeson, Kyle Nagao and senior Daniel Krumbein won team titles in 10-Meter Air and 50-Meter Free, en route to earning Navy the overall Team Air Aggregate Championship.

The only match won by a team other than Navy or Ohio State University was claimed by the U.S. Military Academy. In the closest team competition of the week, the Army team edged out archival Navy by virtue of a tiebreaker, giving the Cadets the 25-Meter Standard Pistol Championship. Army Coach Duston launders also brought home some hardware, earning the 2004 award for Outstanding Service to Collegiate Shooting Sports.

Navy’s Salvia rounded out his championship weekend by winning the Overall Individual Championship. Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Levi Hendrix came in second, with Texas State Tech’s Jeff Favour placing third.

Entry in the 24th Annual NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships was by invitation only, as determined by scores fired in the 2004 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Sectionals held throughout the country. Participating schools ranged from UCLA in the West to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the East, and all points in between, as well as many of the service academies.

The final shot rings out, the finger finally concludes its follow through, and the gun begins its slow, steady trace back down to the shooting bench. The score flashes on your monitor, but you don’t have to look. You know where it impacted; the mind’s eye saw it before it ever left the muzzle. You felt it—atop the leaderboard at the NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships. And if you’re like the shooters who ruled the 2004 competition, you never even blinked.

2004 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships Leaderboard

Overall Individual Championship

  1. Justin Salvia, United States Naval Academy, 1648
  2. Levi Hendrix, Northeast Mississippi Community College, 1589
  3. Jeff Favour, Texas State Tech, 1586

Free Pistol Individual Championship

  1. Michael Gleeson, United States Naval Academy, 610.80
  2. Justin Salvia, United States Naval Academy, 610.00
  3. Kyle Nagao, United States Naval Academy, 609.20
  4. Daniel Krumbein, United States Naval Academy, 602.90
  5. Levi Hendrix, Northeast Mississippi Community College, 599.80

Free Pistol Team Championship

  1. United States Naval Academy, 2047
  2. Ohio State University, 1968
  3. United States Military Academy, 1964

Standard Pistol Individual Championship

  1. Justin Salvia, United States Naval Academy, 554
  2. Maxwell Pappas, United States Military Academy, 548
  3. William Oren, Texas A&M, 545
  4. Michael Gleeson, United States Naval Academy, 541
  5. Jessica Marshall, Ohio State University, 538

Standard Pistol Team Championship

  1. United States Military Academy, 2131
  2. United States Naval Academy, 2131
  3. Ohio State University, 2106

ROTC Standard Pistol Championship

  1. Ohio State University NROTC, 1757
  2. Jacksonville University, 1704
  3. University of South Carolina, 1699

Air Pistol Individual Championship

  1. Justin Salvia, United States Naval Academy, 660.9
  2. Kyle Nagao, United States Naval Academy, 656.3
  3. Jessica Marshall, Ohio State University, 652.5
  4. Jeff Favour, Texas State Tech, 648.8
  5. David Schannon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 648.8

Air Pistol Team Championship

  1. United States Naval Academy, 2234
  2. United States Military Academy, 2187
  3. Ohio State University, 2173

Women’s Aggregate Championship

  1. Jessica Marshall Ohio State University, 935
  2. Jennifer Leong, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, 903
  3. Jodie Briggs, Clemson University, 898

Women’s Air Pistol Individual Championship

  1. Jessica Marshall, Ohio State University, 467.1
  2. Jennifer Leong, United States Coast Guard Academy, 458.9
  3. Lauren Keefe, United States Naval Academy, 455.9
  4. Jodie Briggs, Clemson University, 454.1
  5. Mindi Updegraff, United States Military Academy, 452.5

Women’s Air Pistol Team Championship

  1. Ohio State University, 1068
  2. United States Naval Academy, 1060
  3. United States Military Academy, 1060

Women’s Sport Pistol Individual Championship

  1. Jessica Marshall, Ohio State University, 655.4
  2. Jennifer Trickett, Ohio State University, 644.7
  3. Gail Kollhoff, United States Naval Academy, 632.7
  4. Ashley Davis, University of Utah, 629.8
  5. Patricia Teakle, United States Military Academy, 627.6

Women’s Sport Pistol Team Championships

  1. Ohio State University, 1626
  2. United States Naval Academy, 1588
  3. United States Military Academy, 1565

Team Aggregate Championship

  1. United States Naval Academy, 6412
  2. United States Military Academy, 6282
  3. Ohio State University, 6247

NRA Distinguished College Coach—James Sweeney, Ohio State University

The Award for Outstanding Service to Collegiate Shooting Sports—Coach Duston Saunders, United States Military Academy

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