Guardsman shines at U.S. biathlon team trials
U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathlete Sgt. Jesse Downs of the Vermont National Guard leads Dan Campbell up the hill en route to a fourth-place finish in the men's 15-kilometer mass start race Dec. 13, 2009 at the U.S. Biathlon World Team Trials at Mount Itasca in Coleraine, Minn.

COLERAINE, Minn. -- U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program biathletes 1st Lt. Jennifer Wygant and Sgt. Jesse Downs of the Vermont National Guard had impressive performances at the U.S. Biathlon World Team Trials on Dec. 12-13 here at Mount Itasca.

Wygant won the women's 7.5-kilometer sprint race on Saturday with a time of 23 minutes, 44.2 seconds. Along the way, she missed only two of 10 shots on the firing range, making her one of the top two shooters of the day.

Wygant was followed by Susan Dunklee (24:00.8) of Baton, Vt.; Laura Spector (24:15.1) of Lennox, Maine; and Tracy Colliander (25:02.9) of Durango, Colo.

Downs finished fourth in the men's 15-kilometer mass start competition on Sunday with a time of 41 minutes, 23.6 seconds. Zach Hall of Anchorage, Alaska won the event in 40:14.3, and was followed by Walt Shepard (40:16.9) of Yarmouth, Maine; and Dan Campbell (41:10.6) of Bozeman, Mont.

Both Soldiers are bidding to make the IBU Cup Team to compete with U.S. Olympic Biathlon Team contenders on the World Cup circuit and continue their quest to make Team USA for the XXI Olympic Winter Games, scheduled for February 12-28 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Olympic biathlon and bobsled events will be contested in the nearby resort town of Whistler. The biathlon is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, from both the prone and standing positions. It was -2 degrees at race time Sunday - without the wind-chill factor.

Downs placed eighth in the men's 10-kilometer sprint race Saturday with a time of 27:39.4. Mark Johnson of Mount Itasca won the event in 26:20.6.

Wygant finished 10th in the women's 12.5-kilometer mass start event Sunday with a time of 45:31. Colliander won the race in 40:56.9.

Page last updated Mon December 28th, 2009 at 13:55