A sure shot
Wolf Pack’s Tanoue a champion and model citizen
By Scott Walquist
The University of Nevada has a hidden treasure in its athletic program. Last year as a freshman, Ryan Tanoue led the Wolf Pack to the 2002 NCAA Air Rifle Championships in Murray, Ky. Although Nevada finished eighth in the team competition, Tanoue emerged as the 2002 NCAA air rifle national champion.
"I was really happy and really relieved at the same time," Tanoue says of the competition. He adds with a chuckle, "I did well, but I was happy when it was over so I could think about something else before I went to bed every night."
Tanoue, 19, came to Nevada from Honolulu, Hawaii, where he first began shooting the air rifle as an eighth grader to earn a merit badge for the Boy Scouts. During his practice with the rifle, the assistant scoutmaster running the rifle badge program spotted Tanoue's natural talent and urged him to try out for the high school rifle team. Taking the advice of the scoutmaster, Tanoue tried out and made the St. Louis High School team. He excelled in the sport all four years, earning national attention and gaining interest from a number of colleges.
"Going into my junior year, I thought that I could use rifle as a way to get into college or at least help pay for college," Tanoue says.
He was correct. Many universities from across the nation offered Tanoue scholarships to come shoot for their schools, including Alaska Fairbanks, which has the No. 1-ranked NCAA rifle team. But, Tanoue chose to take aim for the Wolf Pack.
"Nevada had the programs I wanted as far as academics and when I came up to visit, I liked the campus a lot," Tanoue says. "They (Nevada) weren't the greatest team at the time, but I could tell they were an up-and-coming team and I wanted to be on a team that was improving rather than a team at the top of their game."
Nevada rifle coach Fred Harvey credits Tanoue for the Wolf Pack's improvement and success in 2002 and predicts a similar result for the 2003 season.
"He has single-handedly taken us to the NCAA Championships and he will do it again," Harvey says. "He is not only a great shooter, but he is a great guy. You get a guy like Ryan once in a generation."
Tanoue defended his air rifle title at the NCAA Championships, March 13-15, in West Point, N.Y.