By Brenda Rolin, USAMU PAOJune 9, 2016
CAMP PERRY, Ohio -- A fourth Soldier from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is joining his teammates in Rio de Janeiro this August after the 2016 Air Olympic Trials June 3-5 at Camp Perry, Ohio.
Spc. Dan Lowe, from Olympia, Washington, earned one of two available air rifle seats on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team June 5 during the Olympic Trials, two years after his assignment to USAMU. He was assigned June 5, 2014.
Three other USAMU marksmen have already taken their places on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team. They are Sgts. 1st Class Michael McPhail, of Darlington, Wisconsin, for 50-meter prone rifle; Josh Richmond, of Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania, and Glenn Eller, of Katy, Texas, both for double trap, a shotgun discipline.
A fifth military shooter, Staff Sgt. Keith Sanderson of the Army World Class Athlete Program, has also qualified for the Olympics in rapid-fire pistol shooting.
"There was an awful lot of pressure on this match," Lowe said. "I spent a lot of time on positive thoughts; the confidence you take to the line will make or break you."
Lowe shoots in three disciplines -- smallbore 50-meter prone rifle, smallbore three-position rifle and air rifle -- but excels in air rifle, said his coach, four-time Olympian Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker.
Parker said Lowe has the confidence needed to win in a tight situation.
"Specialist Dan Lowe's strength is what he demonstrated today," Parker, of Omaha, Nebraska, said. "He is absolutely fearless; he can go into a competition and shoot a good score and come away with a medal. He thrives on the energy and the spotlight."
Yet, the three-day competition was somewhat of a roller coaster ride for Lowe. After the first day of competition, he was in second place, but seemed to falter on the second day, finishing in sixth.
On the final day, however, he roared back to life and was in second place behind Lucas Kozeniesky, U.S. Shooting Team member, before going into the finals.
Kozeniesky was unbeatable at 10 points ahead of Lowe -- competitors can only earn a maximum of eight points in the finals -- and he had already earned one of the two air rifle seats.
That left second-place Lowe fighting for the final air rifle seat with two other shooters -- Spc. Bryant Wallizer, a World Class Athlete Program Soldier, and U.S. Team member Dempster Christenson. Both were just a few points behind him.
Lowe persevered and finished in first place in the finals, securing his victory and the second air rifle seat, while Wallizer finished in eighth and Christenson ended up in third in the finals. Neither had enough points to pass Lowe.
"The second day was a little rough, but this is the Olympic Trials and a lot of things can happen, so you do the very best you can, and that is what he did," Parker said about Lowe. "He shot a world-class final today, and you just can't ask for more."
Staff Sgts. George Norton, air rifle, and Greg Markowski of Sycow, Poland, air pistol, also competed in the Air Olympic Trials. Although neither earned enough points to win seats on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team, Norton, of Salinas, Kansas, said he was extremely proud of his teammate Lowe and of his performance.
"Dan didn't take anything for granted, and his scores were excellent," Norton said. "Dan came into day three and he fought hard and he shot an amazing score and then he won the final. Anyone else might not have been able to do that, but Dan came back."
Norton won the men's three-position rifle event during the 2016 Smallbore Olympic Trials April 1-8, but because there were no U.S. seats available in that discipline, he couldn't join the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team for that victory.
"I am very proud of the results I had in the men's three-position and without the support of Sergeant First Class Jason Parker, the International Team, the USAMU Custom Firearms Shop, the USAMU and the Army, I would not be where I am today," Norton said.
Army Olympians provide a direct connection between the Army and the American people through competitions, demonstrations, outreach and engagements on the local, regional and national level.