No. 1 WVU has sights set on GARC title
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 23:02
Three days after finding out they will be the No. 1 overall one seed in the NCAA championships, the West Virginia rifle team will first have to concentrate on the Great American Rifle Conference championships this weekend.
"Of course we’re going to be using it for preparation for NCAA’s," said head coach Jon Hammond. "At the same time, we want to go there and have as good a performance as we can.
"It’s still our conference championships, so we want to go out there and do our best."
Hammond and the Mountaineers will take whatever they can from this weekend if it helps them when NCAA’s roll around in two weeks.
"We’ll be very conscious of continuing our preparation for NCAA’s and using the experience and adrenaline as much as possible from this weekend that we can use in two weeks," he said.
West Virginia will travel to Oxford, Miss., and the campus of Ole Miss for the GARC championship. There they will once again face the Kentucky Wildcats, who currently rank No. 3 nationally and are the only team to beat the Mountaineers this season.
"Our focus is on ourselves, and our own performance," Hammond said. "It doesn’t matter what teams are going to be there. We’re going to see good teams this weekend and good teams in two weeks, but for us to be successful, we have to keep the focus on ourselves.
"We’ll keep our focus on ourselves, and we want to go down there and put in the best match that we can."
Obviously, that philosophy has worked all season considering the Mountaineers sit atop the college rifle world, but it has also proven to work in the past. Hammond and West Virginia are pursuing their fourth consecutive GARC championship.
"It’s definitely a great position to be in," Hammond said. "We’ve had some good success at the conference championships, and to have won it three years in a row is great.
"We obviously want to continue and do our best, and to win something four times in a row, whatever that is, it’s a great
accomplishment. If we keep our focus on ourselves and what we do, hopefully that will be the result of it all."
Despite the Mountaineers winning a three-peat of conference championships, that hasn’t guaranteed success in the NCAA championship that follows. West Virginia has not won the NCAA Championship since 2009, something Hammond is hoping to change this season.
"Really what we’ve been trying to do all year is keep the focus very internal," Hammond said. "It’s very easy at championships – especially NCAA’s – to start doing things differently, worrying about the other teams, thinking about the scores we have to do.
"It’s just another match, and we have to be very focused and prepared."