Bears Pistol Team Has Hopes For Another Great Season

Ben Waalkes
Ben Waalkes

The Bears, who opened the season at home last weekend falling against perennial national powerhouse, Ohio State University on Homecoming Weekend look to build upon last season's success 

Coast Guard  lost only one match last year and went on to win the Collegiate National Championship for the first time in the school history. The Bears dominated at the Championships, winning 17 out of the 28 medals awarded. The Bears swept the Individual Aggregate medals winning the top three awards.

The team lost its top two shooters to graduation. Helen Oh and Brian Kim. They finished one and two at the National Championships last year. They are now assigned to the Academy in order to compete in the Olympic Trials for the Tokyo Olympics. 

Returning Bears this year are sophomore Ben Waalkes, the Bronze medalist in the Open Individual Aggregate at the National Championships, Individual National Air Pistol Champion, and three-time All-American. He was also a firing member on all Team Academy records. Other members who established new Academy team records were senior Kevin Bennett in Standard Pistol and junior Esther Choe in Air Pistol. Bennett was also a member of the National Champion Standard Pistol Team, and two-time All-American. Choe earned All-American honors and was a member of the Open Aggregate Team National Champions.

Returning sophomores Ella Firenzi and Jo St.Ledger placed second in the women's team events at the National Championships and are anxious to bring back the gold this season. Samuel Kim is working on his Air Pistol skills to break into the top five spots. Sophomore Christina Lee took a break from shooting for three years, and decided to jump back in. She comes from the nation's top Junior Pistol Club in the U.S., Bridge Junior Pistol Club, Los Angeles, Calif.

Chase Jin, and David Tran are freshmen who bring a wealth of dedication to the team. Jin is already an impact player after shooting the second highest aggregate score for the team last week.

The defending National Champion Coast Guard will be facing all of the top collegiate programs this year, Ohio State, West Point, Naval Academy, MIT, Utah, North Dakota State, and Texas A&M.