During day one of the 2018 NCAA Rifle Championships, West Virginia University (WVU) rifle shooter Morgan Phillips was able to mount a successful defense of her 2017 NCAA smallbore title at the Citadel’s McAlister Field House. The sophomore from Salisbury, MD, won the smallbore rifle individual championship with a 459.4 final score.
Phillips entered the final in eighth place, shooting 584 for day one’s first relay.
“I just tried to stay as present as possible and keep focused on every individual shot,” said Phillips. “I knew I had a rough couple of kneeling series. I had to work through those and keep present for every shot after that. It means a lot [to repeat]. I’m feeling a lot of emotion right now, and I’m pretty happy with it. It was definitely a fight out there today.”
Placing fifth in the final after the prone series, Phillips jumped five spots to first after the initial five record shots in standing. Entering the knockout stage with a half-point lead over second place—Phillips never relinquished her advantage.
“Morgan shot a great final. It’s a three-position final. You have to shoot great in all three positions,” said WVU rifle coach Jon Hammond. “She was middle of the pack after kneeling and prone but was still in it. She shot some incredible standing, and slowly but surely, she made her way up there. It was a bit of fight and a struggle, but what an accomplishment to win back-to-back titles as a freshman and sophomore.”
Phillips is the fourth shooter from WVU to win back-to-back NCAA titles. Since 1961, 20 different Mountaineers have claimed 28 NCAA rifle championships.