The following match report comes to us courtesy of Newt Engle, head coach of the Univ. of Akron rifle team. The Akron Zips are ranked No. 5 in the CRCA-NCAA preseason poll.—Ed.
When the first scheduled match of the season was run over by the COVID-19 train, the effort turned to technology to allow each team to simulate a match without traveling. In today's world of electronic targets and live streaming, the possibility to have a virtual competition became a reality for this match. With each school connected electronically, the match began on time, and ended with Akron finishing ahead of Morehead 4660 to 4618. Granted, this match counts as nothing but a practice session, but I can attest to the fact it was quite real for those participating. However, the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) will be using virtual scores for national rankings.
Akron rifle shooters separated by plastic barriers on the firing line during the virtual match against Morehead State.
With a goal of smallbore scores at 580-plus, the Akron squad was knocking really hard on the door. Closest was junior Andre Gross, who proved there is a reason he is on the USA Olympic Development team by winning the match top gun award with his score of 579. Hot on his heels, teammates senior Wyatt Openshaw and newcomer freshman Gavin Perkowski both earned 578s. Also jumping on the 570-plus train was senior Antonio Remedios and freshman Kayla Andreoli (both 573s, and freshman Erin Schnupp with 570). This was a solid performance for the Akron squad looking to use the win as a stepping-off point for the season.
Similarly, the hard-fought battle for top gun in air rifle landed freshman Gavin Perkowski in the winner’s slot, opening his collegiate career with a solid 591 score. Pushing hard all the way to the last shot (which was a 10), junior Jeanne Haverhill crept into the elite 590s with her excellent score. Senior Wyatt Openshaw took third with a 588. Worth noting is sophomore Katie Paltz making her move as the No. 4 Akron rifle team shooter, with her nice 584 score.
Akron shooters in the kneeling position.
Here is some exciting news—as you remember, last season was a banner season for the Akron Zips, with the rifle team nearly re-writing the record book, and earning its first-ever invite to the NCAA Rifle Championships. Today’s score, for our first match, is actually better than we started out last year. Combine this with the fact we are deep with talent, and with most of the team walking off the line not completely satisfied with their performances, this promises to be the team to watch this season.
On Saturday October 10, Akron is scheduled to travel to the University of Kentucky for what is hoped to be the first shoulder-to-shoulder (figuratively speaking) match of the season. This will also be the home opener for the Wildcats. However, both teams are on hold waiting to see if travel will be authorized for the Akron squad. The announcement will be posted on the Akron Rifle webpage located at this link.