The Alaska-Fairbanks rifle team is still the number-one squad in the country, according to the latest College Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) rankings, followed by 2021 NCAA rifle champion Kentucky at No. 2 and Texas Christian University taking the No. 3 spot. Rounding out the top five are No. 4 West Virginia University and No. 5 Ole Miss.
Alaska-Fairbanks entered the winter break ranked No. 1, and has not relinquished the top spot since the second half of the season started. On Sunday, January 23 at its home range, the E.F. Horton Rifle Range, Alaska-Fairbanks defeated Air Force, 4747-4707, with the team also boasting six top 10 individual performances. The Nanooks bested Air Force in the team results for both air rifle (2386-2381) and smallbore (2361-2326), with Alaska-Fairbanks freshman top shot Rylan Kissell's 1189 aggregate giving him the top individual score for the match.
Here is what Alaska-Fairbanks Head Coach Will Anti said to reporter Nathan Kyle Pearsall of the Alaska Nanooks website regarding his team's January 23 victory against Air Force.
"Today's match was validation that the team can consistently perform at this level. One of the hardest things to do in sport is to follow up a great day with another and today they succeeded ... Rylan had a strong match in both guns and was the aggregate leader. Karasova pushed him the whole day though, and with a personal best in air and aggregate she turned in her best performance of the season. She has been grinding so hard in the air gun and is really deserving of these results."
Kentucky, currently ranked No. 2 in the CRCA poll rankings, topped the leaderboard at a five-way match hosted by Murray State from January 21-23. Facing the aforementioned Murray State, plus Jacksonville State, North Georgia and Alabama Birmingham, Kentucky secured victory with an aggregate score of 4741. The next highest-scoring team was host Murray State with 4724. Leading the way for Kentucky—Tokyo 2020 Olympic medalists Mary Tucker and Will Shaner, both occupying the top two spots in the individual aggregate scores. For the match, Tucker led all shooters in smallbore with 593, while teammate Shaner was number one in air rifle with an excellent 599 score.
Moving on to No. 3 TCU rifle, on Sunday, January 23 the Horned Frogs defeated No. 10 Ohio State, 4752-4694, during a road match. TCU's Kristen Hemphill dominated the match, topping the individual aggregate with 1190, also boasting high scores in air rifle (599) and smallbore (591). Following Hemphill in the individual aggregate was teammate Stephanie Grundsøe with 1189.
As for the No. 4-ranked WVU rifle team, on Saturday, January 29 the team hosted Akron and Morehead State for a three-way match, which WVU won with a high score of 4726. Despite the victory, the then-ranked No. 3 WVU rifle team dropped a spot in the latest CRCA poll rankings. On Saturday, February 12, the Mountaineers will host No. 2 Kentucky at the Bill McKenzie Mobile Rifle Range in Morgantown, West Virginia, for the regular-season finale.
Below are the top 20 rifle teams from the latest College Rifle Coaches Association poll rankings. (As of Monday, January 31.)
- No. 1 Alaska-Fairbanks
- No. 2 Kentucky
- No. 3 Texas Christian Univ.
- No. 4 West Virginia Univ.
- No. 5 Ole Miss
- No. 6 Murray State
- No. 7 Air Force
- No. 8 Akron
- No. 9 Navy
- No. 10 Ohio State
- No. 11 Nebraska
- No. 12 Morehead State
- No. 13 Jacksonville State
- No. 14 Army
- No. 15 North Carolina State
- No. 16 Memphis
- No. 17 North Georgia
- No. 18 Georgia Southern
- No. 19 UT Martin
- No. 20 The Citadel
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Read more: Alaska-Fairbanks Rifle Coach Will Anti On Season’s Second Half: ‘Plenty Of Work To Do’