WVU’s Babic, Koenders Lead Mountaineer GARC Honors Haul

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    Milica Babic of the No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team was named the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) Outstanding Senior at the GARC Championships banquet on Thursday evening, held at the University of Memphis’ Larry O. Finch Center, in Memphis, Tennessee.

    A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Babic is the 11th Mountaineer to claim the conference’s top senior award. A WVU student-athlete has earned the honor every season but one since 2015.

    “Milica’s had a great four years,” 14-year coach Jon Hammond said. “She has accomplished so much and has won a lot of awards. She has had a number of excellent performances over the years, so I can’t pinpoint just one, but we are hoping she can have a few more impressive performances here in the next few weeks. She enjoys the tournament-style format, and she is really good about raising her level for big competitions.”

    An eight-time All-American, Babic ranks No. 1 on the team, No. 4 nationally, with a 595 air rifle season average. She also ranks No. 2 in smallbore, No. 8 nationally, with a season average of 584.182. Babic shows career highs of 591 smallbore and 599 air rifle. She has shot season highs of 590 smallbore and 599 air rifle.

    Babic, a 2017 NCAA National Champion, finished second in air rifle at last year’s conference championships. She also was named the GARC Outstanding Rookie in 2017.

    Junior David Koenders, a psychology major, joined Babic on the podium this evening, as he was named the Mountaineers’ GARC Scholar-Athlete for the second consecutive season.

    “David has set a great example all year, on and off the range,” Hammond said. “He has really led by example. He has a perfect 4.0 GPA, which is really impressive, so this is just another academic honor that he can add to his list.”

    The All-GARC honors also were awarded tonight, and eight Mountaineers claimed 21 total awards.

    “This team has great depth, and this list showcases that,” Hammond said. “Eight of the 10 shooters are receiving an award tonight, so the future looks bright. We have such a great group, and they have worked so hard. Obviously, we’re focusing on finishing this year, but having that depth will help us in the future.”

    Of the 10 combined All-GARC Smallbore and Air Rifle First Team honors, six were claimed by Mountaineers.

    Babic was the lone Mountaineer named to the All-GARC Smallbore, Air Rifle and Combined Score First Teams, marking the first time since the 2018 season she has landed on each of the first teams.

    Senior Morgan Phillips and Koenders were named to the smallbore first team, and sophomore Verena Zaisberger and freshman Akihito Shimizu were named to the air rifle first team.

    Freshman Malori Brown and Shimizu also were named to the All-GARC Smallbore Second Team, while Koenders landed on the All-GARC Air Rifle Second Team. Junior Sarah Osborn garnered All-GARC Smallbore and Air Rifle Second Team accolades.

    Additionally, sophomore Jared Eddy was named to the All-GARC Smallbore and Air Rifle Honorable Mention Teams.

    Koenders and Shimizu joined Babic on the All-GARC Combined Score First Team. Osborn, Phillips, Eddy and Brown landed on the second team, and Zaisberger claimed honorable mention honors.

    Kentucky’s Mary Tucker was named the GARC Shooter of the Year and Rookie of the Year, while Akron’s Newt Engle was named the GARC Coach of the Year.

    The Mountaineers compete for their 11th consecutive title at the 2020 GARC Championships, Feb. 28-29, at the University of Memphis’ Larry O. Finch Center, in Memphis, Tennessee. Admission is free for both days.

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