TCU Wins Fourth NCAA Title

Texas Christian University women’s rifle team clinches first NCAA championship since 2019.

by
posted on April 16, 2024
TCU 2024 1
The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs rifle team posted an aggregate score of 4732-347X at the 2024 NCAA rifle championships in March, capturing the NCAA title for the first time since 2019.
Photo by John Parker

The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs women’s rifle team displayed its marksmanship prowess on the firing line to win the 2024 NCAA rifle championship in March, capturing the title for the first time in five years.

TCU rifle team
At the 2024 NCAA rifle championship, TCU captured the team aggregate title for the first time since 2019.

 

The 2024 NCAA rifle championship, hosted by West Virginia University, was held at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W. Va., March 8-9, with smallbore on day one and air rifle on day two.

TCU posted an aggregate score of 4732-347X to claim the 2024 NCAA rifle championship. Led by Head Coach Karen Monez, the victory marks TCU’s fourth NCAA rifle title, after previously winning the team aggregate in 2010, 2012 and 2019.

Smallbore final
The top eight shooters from the two smallbore rifle relays advanced to the final, held the same afternoon.

 

Two TCU shooters—graduate student Stephanie Grundsøe and sophomore Katie Zaun—led the Horned Frogs, ranked fourth and fifth on the individual aggregate leaderboard, both with scores of 1188. Grundsøe was TCU’s top shooter in smallbore with a score of 592-42X, and she landed in third place in the final with 448.1. Grundsøe also qualified for the air rifle final with a score of 596-49X and left the final ranked seventh with 143.0. As for Zaun, she was TCU’s high scorer in air rifle with 598-54X, advancing to the final and finishing in fourth place with a score of 207.8. Additionally, Zaun qualified for the smallbore final with 590-39X and exited the match in second place with a score of 459.8.

WVU rifle team
Finishing second in the 2024 NCAA rifle championship aggregate was host school West Virginia University.

 

Finishing as runner-up in the 2024 NCAA rifle championship team aggregate was host school West Virginia University with a score of 4729-335X. Ten points behind WVU and in third place was last year’s winner, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks with 4719-314X.

For the smallbore and air rifle team championships, as well as the aggregate, each team at the NCAA rifle championship has five shooters firing for record, with the lowest score posted being dropped and the top four scores from each team counting towards the team’s total.

Alaska-Fairbanks rifle team
The 2023 NCAA rifle team champion, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, finished in third place this year.

 

In all, 14 schools were represented at this year’s NCAA rifle championship, with teams and individual shooters from TCU, WVU, Alaska-Fairbanks, Air Force, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Navy, Nebraska, the Citadel, Ohio State, Memphis, Murray State, Akron and Georgia Southern in attendance.

SMALLBORE RIFLE

Buoyed by a dominant performance from fifth-year student-athlete and Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Mary Tucker, the West Virginia University Mountaineers claimed the smallbore rifle championship on its home turf. WVU won the 2024 NCAA smallbore rifle team title with a score of 2353-145X, six points ahead of the runner-up team, Texas Christian University (2347-147X). In third place was Kentucky with 2338-123X.

Smallbore rifle competitors
Smallbore rifle shooters on the firing line during the second of two relays on Friday, March 8.

 

Smallbore rifle at the NCAA rifle championship is fired at 50 feet in three positions: kneeling, prone and standing. Each shooter will fire 20 shots in each of the three positions, for a total of 600 possible points. The smallbore rifle competitors are split into two relays. To determine the individual smallbore champion, the top eight individual shooters from both relays advance to a final round.

Tucker led the field of 46 shooters after both smallbore rifle relays were completed, posting a score of 596-41X. The next highest scoring WVU rifle team shooter in smallbore was freshman Griffin Lake with 587-40X.

Katie Zaun & Mary Tucker
The smallbore rifle final came down to two shooters—TCU’s Katie Zaun and WVU’s Mary Tucker.

 

Eight shooters qualified for the smallbore rifle final. Along with Tucker, Stephanie Grundsøe, and Katie Zaun (both TCU), Sofia Ceccarello and Braden Peiser (both Kentucky), Lea Horvath (Ole Miss), Sara Karasova (Alaska-Fairbanks) and Cecilia Ossi (Nebraska) advanced to the final.

In the smallbore final, Tucker staged an incredible comeback to win the 2024 NCAA smallbore rifle individual title with a score of 462.0. She had to claw her way up from as far back as eighth place in the final, trailing Stephanie Grundsøe, who was the leader of the pack for most of prone and kneeling. At one point, it seemed that Tucker might be eliminated. But, she rocketed her way up to a first place tie with Grundsøe in standing, both with scores of 410.4 after 40 shots.

Mary Tucker
After an impressive comeback in the final, WVU’s Mary Tucker captured the top spot in smallbore rifle.

 

After six shooters had been eliminated in the smallbore final, it came down to TCU’s Katie Zaun and Tucker, who fired a 10.6 for her last shot to clinch the title. Zaun finished as the smallbore runner-up with a final score of 459.8. Grundsøe had to settle for third place with 448.1.

Smallbore rifle podium
Katie Zaun (l.) and Stephanie Grundsøe (r.), finished second and third in smallbore. Mary Tucker is the 2024 champion.

 

AIR RIFLE

In the NCAA air rifle team championship, Texas Christian University topped the leaderboard with a score of 2385-200X. TCU’s air rifle team win marks the fifth air rifle title in program history. The Horned Frogs previously won the NCAA air rifle team championship in 2010, 2012, 2021 and 2022. The top shooter for TCU in air rifle was Katie Zaun with a score of 598-54X, with Stephanie Grundsøe and Mikole Hogan not far behind, each scoring 596-49X.

Air rifle team podium
The top three air rifle teams on the podium at the 2024 NCAA rifle championship awards ceremony.

 

In second place was Alaska-Fairbanks with a score of 2382-193X. Finishing third was Kentucky with a score of 2380-191X.

At the NCAA championship, air rifle is fired at 10 meters. The shooters are split into two relays, with each one lasting one hour and 15 minutes. Each shooter fires 60 shots for a total possible score of 600. Only the standing position is used in air rifle at the NCAA championship. Similar to smallbore, the top eight air rifle shooters advance to the final to determine the individual champion.

Air rifle firing line
Air rifle shooters on the firing line during the second of two relays on Saturday, March 9.

 

The eight shooters that qualified for the air rifle final were Gavin Barnick (WVU), Braden Peiser (Kentucky), Mary Tucker (WVU), Katie Zaun, Mikole Hogan and Stephanie Grundsøe (all TCU), Peninah D’Souza (Air Force) and Elijah Spencer (Alaska-Fairbanks).

Elijah Spencer of Alaska-Fairbanks, a freshman, led the field heading into the air rifle final with 600-57X (a career-best score), but it was WVU junior Gavin Barnick who would go on to win after a triumphant performance. He earned his first collegiate rifle title with a score of 251.7 to defeat the runner-up, freshman Braden Peiser of Kentucky by a half-point.

Braden Peiser
Although he reached the top spot multiple times in the air rifle final, Braden Peiser had to settle for runner-up.

 

Barnick traded the top spot with Peiser several times after securing an early lead in the air rifle final. When five shooters had been eliminated, the three final shooters were Barnick and Peiser, who were tied for first place with 220 each, along with Mary Tucker in third place with 218.3. While Barnick fired a pair of 10.5s for his next series, Peiser outshot him with a pair of 10.6s to retake first place. After Tucker was eliminated to place third with 228.5, it came down to Barnick and Peiser. Next, Barnick fired an outstanding 10.8, which Peiser’s respectable 10.1 shot was not enough to overcome, putting the former back on top. To clinch the title, Barnick fired another 10.8 along with a 10.6, while Peiser’s 10.5 and 10.1 shots put him in second place.

Gavin Barnick
Prior to the air rifle final, Gavin Barnick was ranked fourth in the field of 46 shooters with a score of 598-49X.

 

Prior to the air rifle final, Barnick was ranked fourth with a score of 598-49X. He fired perfect 100 scores in the first four series of standing, dropping one point each in the last two series to end up with his 598-40X qualification score.

Air rifle individual podium
The top three air rifle shooters: second place Braden Peiser, winner Gavin Barnick and third place Mary Tucker.

 

Barnick’s victory is the first NCAA air rifle individual championship for WVU since 2017. Along with Tucker winning the smallbore rifle title, WVU shooters captured both individual discipline titles this year, which is the first time this has occurred in seven years.

2024 NCAA RIFLE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERBOARD

2024 NCAA RIFLE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERBOARD

 

See the full 2024 NCAA rifle championship scorecard at the NCAA website.

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