For the West Virginia University rifle team, the quest for another national championship begins now.

The top-ranked Mountaineers defeated the third-ranked Kentucky Wildcats, 4720-4693.

WVU won both air rifle, 2383-2376, and smallbore, 2337-2317.

The win clinched a Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) title for the Mountaineers as well as their fifth consecutive undefeated season.

It was the first match in the new Bill McKenzie Rifle Range.

"I was particularly pleased to see the team compete so well in the new range,” said head coach Jon Hammond, “They enjoyed the new setting and adjusted quickly. It's going to be exciting moving forward with this range and providing a good environment for our fans.”

In air rifle, two Mountaineers tied for first place. Elizabeth Gratz and Milica Babic each shot a 598, which set the bar for the rest of the field. The score of 598 tied a season high for Gratz.

"This was a great air rifle match for Elizabeth and Milica. As a coach, it was nice to see them have such a good match in a new range,” said Hammond.

Morgan Phillips came in fifth place with a score of 595 and Ginny Thrasher shot a 592, which was good for sixth place.

For smallbore, a Mountaineer did not take first, but a solid, all around team effort helped WVU earn the victory. David Koenders was the highest finishing Mountaineer, with a second place finish, shooting 586. Phillips and Ginny Thrasher tied for third with a 584.

Kentucky's Henrik Larsen took first place in smallbore, shooting 590.

Coach Hammond said that “smallbore was a strong team effort.”  

Babic, Gratz, Koenders, Phillips, and Thrasher were the five Mountaineers that made up the final total score.

West Virginia is back in action next weekend, on February 17 for an NCAA qualifying match at home. The action will start at 10 a.m.

Asst. Sports Editor

Matt is a senior from Cleveland, Ohio majoring in journalism with a double minor in sport communication and sport and exercise psychology. With his time at the DA, he has covered women's tennis, the rifle team, women's soccer, and football.