WVU Rifle Drops First Regular Season Match In Five Years
The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team suffered its first Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) loss of the season, as the Mountaineers fell, 4723-4712, to No. 1-ranked Kentucky on Saturday afternoon, at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building, in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers (9-1, 7-1 GARC) were swept by the Wildcats (16-0, 7-0 GARC) in both guns, with UK winning smallbore, 2340-2335, and air rifle, 2383-2377.
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“Kentucky shot a great score and are led by two great shooters,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “In a sport like rifle, you can’t control the opposition, but there’s a lot that we can take away from today. We had a solid performance with pretty consistent scores across the board. We did a lot of great things, but we have to keep working hard and find improvements.
“It’s also encouraging to see our freshmen come out and shoot well. Malori (Brown) had the third highest smallbore score today, and that just goes to show the depth of our team. Everyone is working really hard, and I know we’ll continue to improve as we move into the postseason.”
By virtue of today’s win, Kentucky claimed the GARC regular-season title for the first time since 2013. West Virginia, who won the last six conference regular-season crowns, suffered its first regular-season loss since falling, 4706-4705, at Alaska-Fairbanks on Feb. 1, 2015. Despite the loss, WVU holds a 20-10 all-time series lead over UK.
Kentucky’s Mary Tucker shot 1193 and finished first overall, while teammate Will Shaner totaled 1190 and placed second.
Sophomore Verena Zaisberger paced the Mountaineers with a personal-best aggregate total of 1179 and placed third overall, while junior Sarah Osborn finished second on the team and fourth overall with combined scores of 1178.
“They were both pretty solid today,” Hammond said. “Hopefully, they can take confidence in how they were able to shoot today and carry that momentum into the coming weeks.”
In air rifle, Zaisberger (100-99-100-99-99-99) and Osborn (100-99-98-100-99-100) tied for third overall with matching 596s. In the tie, Osborn matched her career-high total.
Freshman Calista Smoyer shot a personal-best mark of 595 and placed seventh. Senior Milica Babic placed eighth with a 594, followed by freshman Akihito Shimizu with a 593. Junior David Koenders rounded out the Mountaineers in the top 10, scoring 592.
Senior Morgan Phillips and sophomore Jared Eddy each shot 590, good enough for a share of 11th place. Freshman Malori Brown and junior Noah Barker added marks of 588 and 576, respectively.
Tucker and Shaner tied for first overall with matching 599s, one shot short of a perfect score.
Brown posted a career-high 589 smallbore mark, good enough for third place. Koenders (585) and Phillips (584) also earned top-five finishes in the discipline, placing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Babic, Shimizu and Zaisberger tied for sixth with matching 583s, while Osborn finished ninth with a 582.
Eddy, Smoyer and Barker chipped in 575, 574 and 570 scores, respectively.
Additionally, a pair of Mountaineers matched the program’s prone record on Saturday, as Babic and Koenders each shot 200.
Tucker shot 594 for the discipline win.
Five Mountaineers counted toward the team’s scores: Koenders, Osborn, Phillips, Shimizu and Zaisberger.
The Mountaineers next shoot an NCAA Qualifying Match on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 8 a.m., at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building.