E.A. Sports Today

Dixie Challenge

Kimbell wins close air rifle match; Burrow wins BB title, Abeln tops in Pistol

Rachel Kimbell reviews her results with coach Al Bowen after winning the air rifle competition at the Dixie Challenge. On the cover, Enterprise's Cori Horton shoots from the standing position.

Rachel Kimbell reviews her results with coach Al Bowen after winning the air rifle competition at the Dixie Challenge. On the cover, Enterprise’s Cori Horton shoots from the standing position.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Rachel Kimbell sat on the bleachers between the firing lines intently watching as her Hardcorps-4 teammates clicked off the last shots of the final air rifle relay of the Dixie Challenge. With each shot fired her anxiety and anticipation grew.

Shooting sports can be decided by one pull of the trigger and each time her friendly rivals shot Saturday Kimbell got closer or farther from winning the title.

The match was that close, but it wasn’t the teammates she was watching she needed to worry about. A little further up the line on the same final relay Alana Kelly was setting her sights on the lead.

Ultimately, Kimbell’s 587 on the second relay was one point better than Kelly.

“I was a little conflicted; they are my teammates,” Kimbell, a home-schooled 16-year-old from Jackson, Ga., said she watched the action wrap. “I want them to do good but I also want to win, so it was kind of back and forth (emotionally).

“I definitely calculated if they shot all 10s what their score was going to be and where mine factored in there. The hard part definitely is sitting there watching them and trying not to wish that they shoot a 9.

“At the end of the day, I really want to beat everybody when they do their best. It’s just more satisfactory when you know they’ve done their best and you’ve done your best and you still come out on top. I felt like I did my best.”

Kimbell started off with a strong 199 from the prone position (with 19 centers) — and was still behind in the standings; Cori Horton of Enterprise shot a near-perfect 200 with 19 centers. Unaware of other scores, Kimbell followed with 191 standing and 197 kneeling. Kelly went 198-192-196 in coming up a point short. Horton won a tiebreaker for third.

“We go back and forth all the time,” said Kelly, who shoots for the Young Guns team of Acworth, Ga. “She’s a friend of mine; it’s not like I’m crushed.”

Kimbell wasn’t the only winner at the CMP Range Saturday. Jack Burrow won the BB Championship, Will Stamps of the Shelby County Shooters won the Alabama BB title and Katelyn Abeln won in Pistol (by two points over Burrow).

Burrow came into the match without much expectation in BB since he hadn’t shot in two months concentrating on his growing interest in pistol. His experience as the fourth-ranked BB shooter in Georgia carried him through as he shot 383 over his four positions and a 98.5 in the final to overtake Leah Martin of Bartow Black.

“It was a good day,” he said. After finishing second in pistol he retired to the paddock and softly strummed on his guitar.

Martin, a 10th-grader at Cass High School near Cartersville, Ga., had similarly light expectations because she hasn’t practiced BB for two months while focusing on air rifle. She held the top spot on the BB leaderboard after scoring 99.8 in the final.

Abeln’s win is just another piece in what seems natural success in pistol. The 13-year-old former middle-school cheerleader gave up BB for pistol only 15 months ago but already has won several major competitions.

“I didn’t know I’d love it so much,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d improve so fast. My first match was a Junior Olympic qualifier and I was the cutoff score for my age group. I’m not focused on winning, I’m just focused on having fun, but winning is like the cherry on top.”

The Anniston CMP facility conducts tournaments every month and has several major events throughout the year. It will conduct segments of the JROTC Service Championship Feb. 13-15 and 19-21.

Pistol winner Katelyn Abeln is flanked by runnerup Jack Burrow (L) and Zachary Miller. Burrow earlier won the BB title.

Pistol winner Katelyn Abeln is flanked by runnerup Jack Burrow (L) and Zachary Miller. Burrow earlier won the BB title.


Top 15
Jack Burrow, Spalding Co. 4H 481.5
Leah Martin, Bartow Black 475.8
Ashley Stacy 474.0
Sam Burrow, Spalding Co. 4H 472.5
Addy Burrow, Spalding Co. 4H 496.5
Sam Payne, Bartow Black 469.4
Patrick Jennings 467.5
Benjamin Rutledge, Spalding Co. 4H 466.2
Colin Grubbs 462.8
Will Stamps, Shelby Co. SSA Red 460.1
Taylor Jones, Shelby Co. SSA Blue 457.5
Emmalie Lovett, Bartow Bronze 457.3
Jaden Ellis, Shelby Co. SSA Red 456.3
Jakob Hill, Shelby Co. SSA Red 454.4
Keaton Centers, Bartow Black 454.4


Top 10
Will Stamps, SCSSA Red 556.1
Jakob Hill, SCSSA Red 548.4
Jude Raia, SCSSA Red 532.4
Taylor Jones, SCSSA Blue 529.5
Jaden Ellis, SCSSA Red 520.3
Joshua Grimm, SCSSA Green 499.7
Claire Vonderau , SCSSA Blue 499.0
Andrew Duryea , SCSSA Blue 495.9
Harrison Ellis, SCSSA Red 494.1
Gabriel Bianca, SCSSA Green 472.9


Precision Top 10
Rachel Kimbell 587 (43)
Alana Kelly 586 (42)
Cori Horton 584 (37)
Robert Hillan 584 (36)
Ryan McAndrews 583 (39)
Alexandria Wright 583 (37)
Glen Lauzon 583 (37)
Dakota Spivey 582 (38)
Mary Pratt 582 (35)
Carleigh Peters 582 (33)

Sporter Top 5
Ashley Stacy 536 (15)
Anthony White 530 (10)
Daliyah Safadi 525 (10)
Daniel Peters 524 (15)
Hannah Rutledge 522 (11)


Basic Supported
Layney Burrow, Spalding Co. 4H 389
Kylie Smith, Blocton Bullets 372
Amelia Gallinari, Blocton Bullets 341

Katelyn Abeln, Paulding Co. 4H 359
Jack Burrow, Spaulding Co. 4H 357
Zachary Miller, Blocton Bullets 352

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