Collegiate Rifle: TCU, WVU, Alaska-Fairbanks Lead Teams Qualifying For 2023 NCAA Championship

The 2023 NCAA rifle championship will kick off March 10 in Ohio at the University of Akron’s Rhodes Arena.

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posted on March 6, 2023
Ncaa2023rifle Preview 1
Collegiate shooters on the firing line for an air rifle relay at the 2022 NCAA rifle championship, held last March at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
John Parker

After last month’s team selection, the stage has been set for another memorable NCAA rifle championship. This year’s competition will be held March 10-11 in Ohio at the University of Akron’s Rhodes Arena.

The Texas Christian University rifle team sits at the top of the 2023 NCAA team standings with 9498.67 points, followed by West Virginia University with 9489.33 and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks with 9482.33.

To determine the top eight rifle teams, the NCAA makes its selections based on the average of the top three regular-season aggregate scores. This average is added to the aggregate scores from qualifier matches, which in turn creates the rankings for the top eight NCAA teams.

More championship info from the NCAA website: “Individual and team competitions in smallbore three-position (60 shots) will be held Friday, March 10, and individual and team competitions in air rifle (60 shots) will be held Saturday, March 11. The overall team champion will be determined by combining the smallbore and air rifle team total scores into one aggregate score for each institution.”

Here are all eight collegiate teams that will be attending the 2023 NCAA rifle championship.

  1. TCU
  2. WVU
  3. Alaska-Fairbanks
  4. Murray State
  5. Kentucky
  6. Ole Miss
  7. Nebraska
  8. Air Force

For its 17th appearance, the No. 1-ranked Texas Christian University rifle team seeks a fourth NCAA rifle championship trophy after wins in 2010, 2012 and 2019. TCU kicked off the 2022-23 season last September with a victory over Navy and Virginia Military Institute, posting a team aggregate of 4758 that shattered the previous NCAA record. Led by freshman powerhouse Julie Johannessen, TCU rifle stayed at or near the top in the CRCA poll ranking over the course of the season and finished as the top-ranked team. In the postseason, TCU captured the 2023 Patriot Rifle Conference Championship title. TCU’s aggregate team score of 4750 was a single point ahead of the runner-up and PRC Championship host school, Alaska-Fairbanks. Plus, the aforementioned Johannessen earned the top individual smallbore score in the regular season with 598, while teammate and graduate student Kristen Hemphill topped the individual air rifle leaderboard for the season with 600.

No. 2 West Virginia University is on the hunt for a 20th NCAA rifle title. The WVU rifle team will enter the NCAA rifle championship with a new top shooter, Mary Tucker, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medalist and former Kentucky Wildcat. A senior, Tucker aided the Mountaineers in several victories this season, posting three top 10 individual smallbore scores among all NCAA rifle competitors. As for postseason competition, WVU hosted the 2023 Great America Rifle Conference Championship in Morgantown, W.V., last month, also winning the competition with a team aggregate of 4722. Additionally, WVU’s Mary Tucker fired 599 in air rifle to land the top individual title.

The No. 3-ranked University of Alaska-Fairbanks rifle team had its best regular season performance last November on the road in South Carolina at the Citadel, walking away with a team aggregate score of 4753—the second highest posted by a team this season. In postseason competition, at the 2023 Patriot Rifle Conference Championship Alaska-Fairbanks was the runner-up with a score of 4749. In addition, Alaska-Fairbanks competitor and graduate student Peter Fiori is the team’s top smallbore shooter, garnering three top 10 individual scores in the regular season, while sophomore Rylan Kissell is Alaska-Fairbanks’s top shot in air rifle with a 600 score that placed him second in the individual rankings.

In addition to the 40 competitors drawn from the eight collegiate teams at the NCAA rifle championship, the NCAA also invites eight individual competitors that are selected based on qualifier match results. You can view the 2023 NCAA rifle championship competitors that earned individual selections below.

  • Addy Burrow, Georgia Southern (air rifle)
  • Marleigh Duncan, Navy (air rifle, smallbore)
  • Parker Haydin, Navy (air rifle, smallbore)
  • Angeline Henry, Memphis (air rifle)
  • Clark McWhorter, Jacksonville State (smallbore)
  • Ben Salas, N.C. State (air rifle, smallbore)
  • Elysa Walter, North Georgia (air rifle)
  • Gabriela Zych, Memphis (air rifle)

Notably, one of the individual qualifiers, N.C. State junior Ben Salas, was the top shooter in smallbore, as well as a top five individual aggregate finisher at the 2023 Great American Rifle Conference Championship. Salas also broke a school record earlier this season with a 592 smallbore score.

Shooting Sports USA will be at the 2023 NCAA rifle championship this weekend in Akron, Ohio, to bring you all the latest news. Subscribe to the free Insider newsletter for updates.

Learn more about the NCAA rifle championship at ncaarifle.org.

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