UA's Compton NCAA air-rifle champ

“After aiding in the defense of The University of Akron (UA) Rifle team’s sixth straight Western Intercollegiate Conference (WIRC) Championship, freshman shooter Jenna Compton placed first in The NCAA Individual Air-Rifle Championship. I haven’t seen anyone as advanced at this early stage of their career, head coach Newt Engle said.”

After aiding in the defense of The University of Akron (UA) Rifle team’s sixth straight Western Intercollegiate Conference (WIRC) Championship, freshman shooter Jenna Compton placed first in The NCAA Individual Air-Rifle Championship.

I haven’t seen anyone as advanced at this early stage of their career, head coach Newt Engle said. This is not real common.

At the NCAA Championships, shooters compete in what are called relays. There are two relays of 20 shooters, each shooter gets 60 shots, and each shot is worth 10 points. To complete the event, the shooters take ten shots in what is called the Olympic finals.

Compton fired a career and UA best 590 out of 600 in her relay, but was still one point out of first as West Virginia University red-shirt junior Bryant Wallizer fired a 591. In the Olympic finals Compton outscored Wallizer 101.6 to 100, giving Compton the final lead of 691.6 to 691.

Compton did not take the lead until her ninth and tenth shots, which made coach Engel, who is a member of the NCAA committee, forget about his task of taking pictures of the event.

It was surreal, Olympians have said the NCAA Championships are the most stressful competition to compete in, Engel said.

Compton believes the key to being confident when surrounded by the nation’s best competition is the ability to keep your mind in the present.

To keep my composure I said it was just a match, and every match is the same, Compton said. Its just one shot at a time.

According to Engel, this mindset along with other intangibles, are what puts Compton ahead of the field, and brings her success at such an early stage in her career.

The key differences between her and other shooters are her determination, dedication, and focus, Engel said.

For safety and scholastic reasons the NCAA limits the amount of time a coaching staff can require a team to practice. This does not stop Compton from staying ahead of the curve.

She is the first one in and the last one out in practice, Engel said. She asks to stay longer and come in for voluntary practice, which is something we happily allow her to do.

Engel is amazed by the fame the coaching staff and university has received at certain events because of Compton’s achievement, but believes Compton should be getting more praise.

Here’s a girl who’s been shooting air rifle for 8 months, using a borrowed gun, wearing a borrowed suit from her coaches daughter, and winning the national title, he said.

Compton is not sure when her achievement will finally sink in.

After the tenth shot, I looked up and I couldn’t believe it. It still feels weird, I don’t feel like I am the national champion. she said.

By winning the national title, Compton was automatically named to the National Development Team, which serves as a farm team for the National Olympic Team. In some cases, members of the National Olympic Team are selected from the development team.

Compton was the first UA athlete to win an individual NCAA championship since Christi Smith, who won the 2000 Outdoor Heptathlon national title, and the first member of the rifle team to qualify for the NCAA Championship since Mark Beres in 1979.

According to Compton, Beres has had a hand in her success.

When I started air rifle, he told me to make it the same as when I smallbore, but what he told me the most was just to have fun, Compton said. The key is to have fun.

Engel believes the NCAA Championship will not remain as the highest achievement for Compton.

I believe Jenna is a serious contender for the 2012 Olympic games in London, he said.

Compton’s victory at the NCAA Championships ends a successful season for the UA Rifle team. In addition to the team’s first place finish in the WIRC Championship, they also placed second in the Mid Atlantic Conference Rifle Championships held at the Virginia Military Institute.

The NCAA Championships occurred on March 12 in Fort Worth, Tex., and took place through March 14.