No. 1 Mountaineers defeat GARC foe Nebraska
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 00:01
A break that lasted more than two months did not prevent the West Virginia rifle team from continuing its winning ways this weekend as it defeated fellow Great American Rifle Conference foe Nebraska 4,689-4,661.
"It’s always nice to make sure you win the match and keep momentum going," said head coach Jon Hammond. "It’s nice to get back in the range and get the matches going again."
With the long hiatus, Hammond expected his team to show some signs of rust, but was confident the experience within the team would prevail.
"For sure there was a little bit of rust there. I wasn’t worried about it. I almost expected it," Hammond said. "That’s why you have competition to get back into it. We’re really trying to shoot our best at the end of the season.
"Like anything, nothing truly replicates a match situation, and I think not having had that for almost two months for some of them, you just need to get back into that."
One factor that has led the Mountaineers to a 10-0 record, as well as in Saturday’s close victory against the Cornhuskers, has been the team’s depth. Saturday, seven different shooters contributed to the winning score.
"Day-to-day and in practice (the team) pushes each other," Hammond said. "They’re all competing for those team spots just as much as they’re competing against other teams.
"It keeps good competition in the range, in practice, and it allows them to push each other more and more. The depth is really important."
The Mountaineers have enough depth to be competitive with each other, but there is no doubt, senior Petra Zublasing sits at the very top of the West Virginia talent level. Zublasing, who competed for her home country of Italy in this summer’s London Olympics, was able to end her home
career at WVU with a win Saturday, while posting a 598 score in the air rifle.
"(Petra) had a really good air rifle performance," Hammond said. "It was a really solid performance; 598 is a top score at any competition."
After the win over the Cornhuskers, West Virginia is left with only one more match, against rival
Kentucky, before entering the post-season tournaments. Hammond will look for the Mountaineers to continue to focus on themselves as they hit the home stretch.
"We’re really just focusing on ourselves, but it’s important to grind out your own score every match," Hammond said. "That’s something that we worked at last year and really tried to emphasize that you do struggle a little bit, and things aren’t going to be smooth sailing all the time in a match, but you have to be able to stay in and put all your focus into it.
"Stay positive, stay calm, and make the best out of it."
If the Mountaineers continue to execute like they have, Hammond does not see them losing any momentum.
"Everyone’s pleased to keep our momentum going, and we want to keep putting in good
performance and finish strong throughout the season."