WVU Seeded Third At NCAA Rifle Championships

West Virginia's Morgan Phillips sights downrange
West Virginia's Morgan Phillips sights downrange

WVU Seeded Third At NCAA Rifle Championships

West Virginia is the third seed in the 2020 NCAA Rifle Championships and will compete for its nation-best 20th NCAA title this year. The event takes place March 13-14, at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington. The Mountaineers (9-1, 7-1 GARC) finished second in 2019.

West Virginia's rifle team competes from the prone position
West Virginia’s rifle team competes from the prone position

Individual and team competitions in smallbore three-position (60 shots) will be held Friday, March 13, and individual and team competitions in air rifle (60 shots) will be held Saturday, March 14. The overall team champion will be determined by combining the smallbore and air rifle team total scores into one aggregate score for each institution.

The qualification is the 13th straight for the Mountaineers. WVU owns a nation-best 19 national titles and has won six under 14-year coach Jon Hammond.

“I think it’s always exciting to know you’ve qualified for the NCAA Championships,” Hammond said. “It’s the first objective once we get to this point of the year, and we’re happy to continue our postseason knowing we have two more competitions. It’s a super tough field. Three teams shot above 4700 in the qualifier, and Kentucky and TCU are shooting really well right now. It’s a tough competition, but we’re happy to be in the field. Right now, our immediate focus is the conference championship, and then we’ll turn our focus to Nationals.”

The Mountaineers qualified as the field’s third-ranked team with a 9423.67 qualification mark, based on the team’s qualifying average of 4717.67 and its qualifying score of 4706, earned on Feb. 22, at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building.

Joining the Mountaineers at the championship are No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 TCU, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Akron, No. 6 Murray State, No. 7 Navy and No. 8 Air Force.

The teams earned championship bids based on the average of its three highest regular-season aggregate scores, with each score recorded at a different range. The average of the three scores was then added to the aggregate total from the team’s designated qualifier to determine the final field.

A total of 48 competitors will compete at the championships, with eight selected as individual qualifiers. An NCAA rule established five years ago stipulates that a school that qualifies as a team is disqualified from sending individual qualifiers.

Up next, WVU shoots for its 11th consecutive Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) Championship title on Feb. 28-29, at the University of Memphis’ R.F. Fogelman Rifle Range, in Memphis, Tennessee.