For the first time ever, the United States Air Force Academy has won the NCAA air rifle championship title. With a score of 2368-181X, the Air Force rifle team claimed the prestigious honor on the final day of the 2019 NCAA rifle championships.
The two-day event was held March 8-9 at the WVU Coliseum on the campus of West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, WV. The match utilized the WVU Bill McKenzie Mobile Rifle Range, which uses Megalink electronic targets.
In second place for air rifle was Texas Christian University (TCU) with a score of 2368-171X. Because of the tie, the second one in as many days at this year's championship, match officials went to the X-count which gave Air Force the advantage 181-171.
Finishing in third place was host school WVU with a score of 2361-172X.
Air Force rifle team senior Spencer Cap finished sixth in the air rifle final and 10th overall in the individual aggregate for the two-day championship.
In addition, Air Force finished third in the overall team aggregate, comprised of both air rifle and smallbore, with a total score of 4687-297X. They were bested only by the match-winning TCU rifle team with 4699-298X, and the perennial collegiate shooting powerhouse WVU rifle team, who had to settle for runner-up this year with a score of 4692-284X.
Coached by the famous Olympic gold medalist Launi Meili, the Air Force rifle team sent five shooters to the championship: Peter Fiori, Casper Schadler, Anna Weilbacher, Spencer Cap and Logan Ogden.
Both Fiori and and Cap qualified for the individual air rifle final, which featured a tough field of shooters. Setting the pace going into the final was Rosemary Kramer of Georgia Southern University, who shot a mind-boggling qualification score of 599-50X, breaking the NCAA championship record that was set by WVU's Petra Zublasing back in 2013.
Peter Fiori before the start of the air rifle final.
A freshman, Fiori had the second highest score going into the final with 596-50X. Of note is the fact that he had three perfect 10-shot strings in the standing position. The air rifle course of fire consists of 60 shots in the standing position. Last year, Fiori was the gold-medal winner at the USA Shooting National Junior Olympics.
Cap, a senior, was only a few points behind Fiori with a qualification score of 592-43X.
Fiori finished the final in seventh place with a score of 141.5. Cap fared better, about 20 points ahead of Fiori with a final score of 161.6, good for sixth place.
The Air Force rifle team's performance at NCAA this year bookends a season that boasts an impressive list of accomplishments, including the President's Trophy and the Patriot Rifle Conference championship. Additionally, five Air Force shooters were named 2019 NRA All-Americans.
You can view the full results of the 2019 NCAA rifle championships here.