WVU Inaugurates McKenzie Rifle Range With Win Over Kentucky
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s David Koenders has his eyes on bigger prizes. Even after recording WVU’s high smallbore score of the day and helping lead the Mountaineers to a 4720-4693 rout of Kentucky on Sunday, he wasn’t thinking about celebrating.
“We have matches next weekend coming up, the NCAA qualifier and the GARC championships,” he said maintaining the laser focus that’s prevalent among top competitive shooters. “We try to keep it down and keep it focused. There are a lot of important [matches] coming up.”
Imagine, though, the celebrations that would be sparked were WVU to ever win a Big 12 title in football or men’s basketball. It would start on the court, and spill across that state, perhaps lasting for days. It’s a different atmosphere in rifle, where remaining calm and on target, both in the physical and mental sense, are paramount. Get too high, or too excited, and a fall can result. Thus, for Koenders and the Mountaineers, there might be a small mental fist pump or satisfaction from a good performance, but it’s as brief as the time it takes a shot from their custom rifles to fly to the 10 ring on the target.
West Virginia won its first match on its new home grounds despite having just a couple of hours of practice there on Saturday. The new Bill McKenzie portable range will be set up in the Shell Building again for the NCAA Qualifiers and the GARC Championships the next two weeks, but it can also be used in the Coliseum, as it will be for the NCAA Championships next year. In effect, WVU will have three different home venues on which it can shoot, but that doesn’t figure to be a problem for a team that has handled every challenge in recent years with aplomb.
“We got to practice two hours yesterday,,” Koender confirmed. “It’s nice to shoot in here and have that open space and get to practice in here for the championships.”