Marksmen hit major targets

Three Montezuma County shooters compete well at 4-H Nationals

The Colorado 4-H shooting participants pose last week at Nationals in Grand Island, Neb. Three Montezuma County residents made nationals. They are, Rachel Dees (compound archery), bottom row, third left; Ashley Lingo (.22 rifle), bottom row, fourth from right; and, Byron Crites (recurve archery), middle row, sixth from right. Enlargephoto

Photo courtesy of Travis Imel

The Colorado 4-H shooting participants pose last week at Nationals in Grand Island, Neb. Three Montezuma County residents made nationals. They are, Rachel Dees (compound archery), bottom row, third left; Ashley Lingo (.22 rifle), bottom row, fourth from right; and, Byron Crites (recurve archery), middle row, sixth from right.

Colorado had its best overall performance at the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational.

Montezuma County sent three to the five-day event in Grand Island, Neb., which is the most ever to go to Nationals from here.

Years of hard work, practice, patience and concentration paid off for Ashley Lingo, Byron Crites and Rachel Dees.

Crites contributed to his respective archery team 4-H national championship. Dees and Crites battled the elements of 40-50 mph winds in the rain in compound and recurve archery. Crites placed fourth in the country individually. Dees’ compound team finished second in the country to Wisconsin. Crites is currently ranked sixth nationally in United States Archery Team recurve.

Lingo helped team Colorado to a fourth-place finish in .22 rifle competition. The Montezuma-Cortez 2012 graduate made her first appearance at Nationals. Lingo has participated in 4-H and the local Four Corners Rifle and Pistol Club junior shooters, sponsored by the National Rifle Association, since she was 10.

After years of rifle success locally and around the state, Nationals was a whole new ballgame.

“It’s a lot different that state or county,” said Lingo about past competitions compared to Nationals. “A lot of stress was relieved. I worked so hard for it for so long.”

Lingo has mastered shooting targets from 40 to 50 feet. But in Nebraska, she shot inch wide targets from 40 to 100 meters and 25 to 50 yards on the final day.

“It was a lot different,” said Ashley’s father, Cody Lingo, Four Corners Rifle and Pistol Club and local 4-H coach.

To qualify for nationals, competitors must finish in the top-four of their event within their state. In .22 rifle, there are four different positions, smallbore, sport air, and hunting scope and open sight target shooting.

Ashley Lingo is no stranger to performing well with extreme concentration. She was a standout discus thrower on the Montezuma-Cortez track and field team for four years.

“I always do better under pressure,” Lingo said. “You just learn to focus and tune everything out. You just do your thing.”

Working under pressure will remain the norm. Lingo will major in fire science at Central Arizona College in Coolidge. The once Lady Panther will throw the discus for the CAC Vaqueras on a full-ride track scholarship. The Vaqueras women’s track and field team has won five NJCAA national championships. Kim Dismuke coaches CAC women’s track and field.

“I’m going there to throw, see how it is. I’d like to better myself,” said Lingo, who won two Southwestern League discus titles in high school. “The coaches have told me that they can get me to throw pretty far.”

Lingo still has goals of multi-sport success. She will join the Coolidge 4-H program in hopes of making Nationals again and perhaps the 2020 Olympics.

“I’d like to keep doing competitions, because they’ve got competitions. It doesn’t matter how old you are,” Lingo said.

Looks like Lingo, along with Crites and Dees, will continue to hit their marks for years to come.

Reach Bobby Abplanalp at bobbya@cortezjournal.com.

Byron Crites shoots his recurve bow last week at the 4-H Nationals competition in Grand Island, Neb. The Cortez native placed fourth individually, while the Colorado recurve team finished No. 1. Enlargephoto

Photo courtesy of Twyla Crites

Byron Crites shoots his recurve bow last week at the 4-H Nationals competition in Grand Island, Neb. The Cortez native placed fourth individually, while the Colorado recurve team finished No. 1.