This article appeared in the May 2008 issue of On The Mark and was provided courtesy of Army Athletic Communications.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. USMA Freshman Stephen Scherer captured medalist honors in air rifl e at the Olympic Trials with a 1994.1 composite in earning one of two spots on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete this summer in Beijing. The three-day Trials, in collaboration with the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Shooting, were held at the Olympic Shooting Complex in Colorado Springs.
Scherer posted a match score of 594 the last day along with a fi nal of 102.6 enroute to outpointing two-time Olympian and runnerup Jason Parker (1990.8) by 3.3 points. Matt Emmons, a gold medalist at the 2004 Olympics, was tied with Scherer for fi rst place after the second day, but fell out of contention with a 586 qualifi cation score on the third day.
Scherer, native of Billerica, Mo., was the leader the fi rst day with a personal best match score of 595 along with a fi nal of 104.6 for a total score of 699.6. Emmons, vying for his third berth to the Olympics, was close behind with a 698.3. Scherer bested his previous high with a 597 the second day to tie with Emmons, who beat him in shoot-off with a 104.8 to 103.5, for fi rst place with a two-day total of 1400.1. Parker was a distant third with a 1394.1.
Scherer held onto his lead the fi nal day to earn one of the two slots selected by a combination of the match scores from all three days (595-597-594) plus each athlete’s top two finals (104.6-103.5) scores.
Not only was the 19-year-old’s performance a surprise to veteran shooters and members of the USA Shooting Committee, but to head Army coach Ron Wigger, who took the youngster to the meet to gain experience. Scherer wrote his name into the Academy history books as the third Cadet and lone freshman to earn a spot on the Olympic Team.
“I’m shocked at what happened today,” commented head coach Ron Wigger. “I thought Stephen might make the finals, but I had no idea this would happen.
“What amazed me the most was how well he handled the pressure with the composure he showed competing against the best shooters in the world.”
Scherer is the fi rst Cadet in over 40 years to earn a berth to the Olympics. He joins wrestler Louis Hammack (USMA ’29), who competed at heavyweight at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam and runner Ronald Zinn (USMA ’62), who was a participant at the 1960 Games in Rome during his cadet days and again in 1964.
The Army freshman is the third West Pointer to compete at the Olympics in shooting, but fi rst since Dean Hudnett (USMA ’16) was a contender at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Sidney Hinds (USMA ’20) was the fi rst West Pointer to compete in shooting as a participant at the 1924 Games in Paris.
Scherer is the 86th West Pointer to compete at the Olympics since the U.S. Military Academy fi rst sent seven participants to the 1912 Games in Stockholm. West Point had two compete at the 2004 Olympics in Greece in Dan Browne, 10,000-meter run and marathon, and Anita Allen, modern pentathlon.