Master Craft: Morgan Craft—Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania
In a discipline full of stars, including five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode, it was Craft who shined the brightest in 2015. Her season included two World Cup podium finishes with silver and bronze. She also proved those results were no fluke by beating her American teammate Caitlin Connor to capture the World Championship and ensure her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games, and she would end her season by earning a bronze medal at the World Cup Final.
Having demonstrated the ability to compete at the elite level, all she had to do was prove it—mostly to herself. This year, and in particular at the Cyprus World Cup, she had the breakthrough she was seeking. Now she’s soaking in all the attention that comes as a World Champion and Olympian.
Don’t call it luck, though. She doesn’t believe in it, and so she’s out to prove that 2015 was not a one-shot deal.
“This year definitely exceeded my expectations, given I medaled in four straight competitions,” Craft says. “I’ve kind of been on the brink of things for a while now, always on that border. Finally, in Cyprus, it really hit me that I could do it. The most important thing gained was confidence.”
Her coach agrees. “Morgan works very hard, and she wants to win badly and is always seeking perfection,” said National Team Coach Todd Graves. “She’s got great fundamentals and has always had the talent, but she has made some mental mistakes in the past. Her success this year is a result of her overcoming that and maturing. She’s not looking back now, though. Look out, Rio!”
On July 27, 2012, as a freshman at shotgun powerhouse Lindenwood University, she remembers getting a text from teammate Dustin Perry as she watched the 2012 Opening Ceremony in her dorm room, and it proved quite prophetic. The text read, “You know what? That’s going to be us in four years.”
Becoming an Olympian as she did this season satisfied a lifelong dream, but she’s not stopping there. “Getting to the Olympics is what I’ve worked so hard for, and I’m extremely satisfied and excited about the opportunity,” she says. “Competing against the best and being an Olympic medalist would be an extremely big deal. It sets you apart. If something doesn’t fall into place and I don’t become a medalist, I will still be satisfied—but that goal now is to be on top of the podium, no doubt.”
For now, this Pennsylvania shotgun prodigy is just happy to be living in the moment. Soaking in the airport greeting parties, the requests for appearances and the unbridled support has her feeling more accomplished than any medal could.
“It leaves me speechless,” she admits. “You don’t realize how many people are actually behind you. One of the absolute best compliments you can ever receive is that people honestly and truly find inspiration from you. That’s just amazing. I’m pretty emotional about it just because it really touches me knowing people find inspiration in me. Knowing I can inspire someone to do their best is mission accomplished. It’s extremely satisfying.”
Craft has also been named USA Shooting’s Female Athlete of the Year for her achievements.
Her home state of Pennsylvania has declared December 11 as the official Morgan Craft Day under legislation approved by the state House of Representatives, as announced Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna), who sponsored the House resolution marking the day.