WVU Rifle Wins GARC Regular Season Title With Rout of Kentucky

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  • #82531

    The No. 2-ranked West Virginia University rifle team tightened its grip on dominance within the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) today, defeating No. 4-ranked and defending NCAA National Champion Kentucky, 4723-4678, at the UK Range in Lexington, Kentucky, and claiming its sixth consecutive regular-season championship.

    The Mountaineers (13-0, 8-0 GARC) handed the Wildcats (11-1, 7-1 GARC) their first loss of the season in assertive fashion, winning smallbore, 2346-2320, and air rifle, 2377-2358. WVU’s aggregate and smallbore marks are season highs, besting totals of 4712 and 2345, respectively.

    “It was a really pleasing performance today,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “It’s always nice to win a conference championship and to defeat a rival team, no less the defending national champion. Most importantly, today was a really good team performance, featuring a lot of season-high scores.

    “Smallbore was stronger today, and air rifle was good as well. Overall, this was a very consistent performance, and this team is trending in the right direction. We want to improve each week; it’s so important this time of the season. Again, there’s a lot of room for improvement. We’re going to focus on the little things these last four weeks of the season, and we’ll quickly move past today and aim to get better.”

    Today’s title is the Mountaineers’ conference-best 12th since 1998. Since joining the program as head coach in the fall of 2006, Hammond has led WVU to six undefeated seasons; the Mountaineers have not lost a regular-season match since falling, 4706-4705, at Alaska-Fairbanks on Feb. 1, 2015.

    “Today’s title is a nice addition to the other accomplishments this team has been able to achieve,” Hammond noted. “It says a lot about the consistently of this program and how we’re able to maintain a high level. That’s a credit to the team members. We don’t take anything for granted.”

    A pair of Mountaineers tallied the individual wins, as senior Ginny Thrasher shot 597 (100-99-100-99-99-100) air rifle and sophomore David Koenders finished with a career-high matching 588 (195 kneeling, 199 prone, 194 standing) smallbore.

    “Our strength was in smallbore today, and it was a team effort,” Hammond added. “Everyone shot really solid, especially David. He’s trending in the right direction this semester and making a lot of good improvements. He’s shooting with a lot of confidence.”

    Sophomore Sarah Osborn finished right behind Koenders in smallbore with a season-high 587. Junior Morgan Phillips placed fourth with a 586, and Thrasher shot 585 for a fifth-place finish. Freshman Jared Eddy landed in seventh place with a 581 total, and junior Milica Babic and freshman Verena Zaisberger tied for eighth place with 576s. Senior Will Anti finished 10th with a 575 total, and sophomore Noah Barker placed 12th with a 574.

    Hanna Carr led the Wildcats in smallbore and tied Osborn for second place with a 587 mark.

    Koenders matched his season-high air rifle score of 596 and placed second. Zaisberger shot a season-high 595 and finished in third place, while Babic followed in fourth place with a 594 total.

    Eddy finished sixth in air rifle with a 592 score, and Barker followed in seventh place with a season-high 590, a mark matched by Osborn. Phillips and Anti placed 11th (588) and 19th (575), respectively.

    Hailee Sigmon paced UK in air rifle and finished fifth overall with a 593 total.

    With the win, WVU improves to 20-9 all-time against the Wildcats.

    The Mountaineers next shoot an NCAA Qualifying Match on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10 a.m. at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building.

    #82544

    We should never take for granted the continued success of this program.  It is not a given, but rather a case study in focus, hard work, and pride in accomplishment coupled with a fierce will to excel.

    #82562

    We should never take for granted the continued success of this program. It is not a given, but rather a case study in focus, hard work, and pride in accomplishment coupled with a fierce will to excel.

    Well said.  What these young athletes do is incredible. I’m really happy for them.

    #82569

    We’ll have a lot of coverage over the next month. I’ll be at both the NCAA qualifiers and the GARC tournament championships, and also of course at the NCAA championships.

    Additionally, we hope to have a feature taking you a bit more inside the program a couple of weeks from now.

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