After an extremely impressive and dominant five-year stretch, the West Virginia University Mountaineers rifle team shows no sign of slowing down.
After winning the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) crown and finishing second at the NCAA National Championship last season, the Mountaineers open the season at the top of the College Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) rankings.
WVU rifle players have a chip on their shoulders entering this season. After a perfect regular season, the Mountaineers could not quite carry that over in the championship round, finishing in second place, behind TCU.
The 2017-18 season was still an impressive feat of its own with multiple record-breaking matches, including a record-setting outing with a 2390 air-rifle score against Ohio State. Later in the season, that record was broken against Ole Miss. WVU shot an impressive 2392 against the Rebels.
West Virginia is again under the command of head coach Jon Hammond, who is entering his 12th season as the man in charge. Hammond is familiar with success, as he has made the Mountaineers a force to be reckoned with, winning six national championships.
Hammond also has the benefit of continuity on his roster as seven of last year’s eight members return.
This year’s team is headlined by seniors Will Anti and Ginny Thrasher, both of whom look to have impressive showings in their senior years.
Anti had a career-best average with a 589.4, nearly a five-point increase from his sophomore season. Thrasher averaged a 596.6 last season, also a career best. Anti and Thrasher are both veterans who, after three years on the team, look to lead the Mountaineers to a sixth straight GARC championship and potentially add another national championship to WVU’s decorated history.
The rifle team’s season gets underway on Saturday, at 10 a.m., in Akron, Ohio against the University of Akron.