Three teens hit the mark for Junior Olympics

Of the four WA girls who qualified to shoot at the Junior Olympics, three are from Oak Harbor.


Special to the News-Times

Of the four girls from Washington who qualified to shoot at the Junior Olympics, three are from Oak Harbor.

Victoria Zarate, Madison Thompson and Charlotte Hull-Walton earned a spot in the air rifle competition at the Junior Olympics when they competed in a qualification match in December in Puyallup.

The Junior Olympics air rifle competition takes place April 1, 2, and 3 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the Olympic Training Center.

“The Junior Olympics opens up a big gate for me to talk to coaches and put my name out there,” said Zarate, who is a junior at Oak Harbor High School and hopes to continue shooting in college.

Thompson, who is in her second year of shooting, said of the Junior Olympics, “It’s been a dream for as long as I’ve been shooting.”

She said a friend convinced her to start shooting.

“He roped me into doing it and I loved it,” she said.

Thompson, who is a sophomore at Oak Harbor High School, said she almost qualified for the Junior Olympics last year.

“It was really close. I had only been shooting for six months,” she said.

To qualify for the Junior Olympics, the girls had to shoot 60 shots from the standing position, Zarate said.

In an additional competition that took place in Vancouver, Zarate also qualified for the small-bore rifle competition at the Junior Olympics. To qualify she had to shoot from kneeling, standing and prone positions.

“She’s the only female in the state to qualify for both,” said Victor Zarate, Victoria’s coach and father. He added that Zarate, Thompson, and Hull-Walton were first-round invites to the Junior Olympics.

The three qualifiers participate in NJROTC program at Oak Harbor High School. They are also members of the Sabertooth Shooting Squad, which has competed in national shooting competitions.

They are spending the weeks before the Junior Olympics training and competing in shooting competitions. Victor Zarate said they practice 10-12 hours a week in addition to keeping up in school.

Thompson said she’s shooting four days a week in the morning and two days a week in the afternoon. She added that she loves training and the focus it puts on the mental part of the sport.

“It is so peaceful and relaxing,” Thompson said.

They also have a busy competition schedule in the weeks leading up to the Junior Olympics. Victoria Zarate is heading to a small-bore shooting competition Saturday in Olympia.

The NJROTC team competes in the area championships March 16 in Oregon City, Oregon. Then they head to the JROTC All Services national competition that takes place March 20 through March 23 at Camp Perry in Ohio.