For the fifth straight season and the 11th time in school history, the West Virginia University rifle team (WVU) is the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) regular-season champion. The top-ranked Mountaineers claimed the 2018 crown with a 4720-4693 victory over No. 3 Kentucky on Sunday, February 11, at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range in Morgantown, WV.
Competing in their new home venue for the first time, the undefeated Mountaineers beat the Wildcats in both disciplines—winning smallbore 2337-2317, and air rifle 2383-2376.
With the win, WVU improves to 19-9 all-time against Kentucky.
“Today was a great day. There were a lot of different factors going into the day, and I was pleased to see a lot of strong individual performances, as well as a good team effort across the board,” WVU rifle coach Jon Hammond said. “Winning this title is part of the process of having a successful season, and it’s good to check this accomplishment off the list. We did well against a strong Kentucky team, but we’ll move on relatively quickly as we have more to accomplish,” he added.
A pair of Mountaineers tied for first place in air rifle—senior Elizabeth Gratz and sophomore Milica Babic both with 598 scores. For Gratz, this score matched her season-high.
“This was a great air rifle match for Elizabeth and Milica,” Hammond noted. “As a coach, it was nice to see them have such a good match in a new range. This range mimics what we will see at the NCAA Championship, and today’s match was good practice for them. They showed a lot of discipline today.”
Redshirt-freshman David Koenders paced the Mountaineers in smallbore with a score of 586—good for a second place finish. Sophomore Morgan Phillips and junior Ginny Thrasher tied for third place with 584 totals.
“Smallbore was a strong team effort,” Hammond added. “Everyone had a solid match. There are parts they each want to improve on, but there was a lot of good, too. We’ll build off today.”
The WVU rifle team’s next competition will be on Saturday, February 17, for an NCAA Qualifying Match.