The No. 1 West Virginia University rifle team looks to defend their reigning national champion title as they compete this weekend at the NCAA National Championship in Murray, Ky.
“We are getting more and more used to building up to the process and getting ready for this part of the season. I think there is a lot of comfort within the team and the position that they are in, so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing and go in with confidence and try
to the best we can,” said WVU head coach Jon Hammond.
The reigning champions will compete against the top eight teams in the country, each vying for the most prestigious title in the country.
No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Alaska-Fairbanks, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Jacksonville State, No. 6 Memphis, No. 7 Army and No. 10 TCU all qualified for the NCAA National Championships.
In the 2013 season, the Mountaineers earned a two-day total of 4679, the
second highest aggregate score in the history of the national championships, giving them their 15th national title.
The Mountaineers outshot their opponents in air rifle, earning a 2363. Former Mountaineer Petra Zublasing won the individual title after scoring 598 in the relay and 701.7 overall. Maren Prediger earned a 591 in air rifle relay, followed by Garrett Spurgeon, who finished with a 589 mark. Meelis Kiisk earned a 585 mark, and Taylor Ciotola rounded out the counting squad with a 576 mark.
The Mountaineers placed second in smallbore with a 2316 mark behind TCU, who placed first with a 2317.
Although every year is different, Hammond said he sees many similarities between this team and last year’s team.
“I think there are a lot
of similarities to last year, such as going in to the championships as the No. 1 seed and coming off the back of winning the conference championships, and we have a lot of the same personal here,” Hammond said.
This will be the third time this season that WVU has competed at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range in Murray, Ky. The Mountaineers competed at the Winthrow Invitational and the NCAA Qualifiers in the range.
The Mountaineers earned their highest mark in the nation at the Winthrow Invitational, scoring 2378 in air rifle and 2332 in smallbore to give them a team total of 4710.
The Mountaineers are fresh off a victory at the Great American Rifle Conference, taking home their fifth consecutive GARC title after shooting a 4700 total team score. The Mountaineers placed first in smallbore with a 2337 team mark and second place in air rifle with a 2363 showing.
The Mountaineers confirmed the victory with a second-place, 2363 air rifle showing, which followed their 2337, first-place smallbore score yesterday.
Senior Maren Prediger took home her first individual championship in air rifle after placing first in the discipline.