MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 1 West Virginia rifle team matched its program-best score of 4704 and won its second straight Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championship, today, at Mississippi’s Patricia C. Lamar National Guard Center, in Oxford, Miss.
The Mountaineers’ (11-2, 5-1 GARC) victory came virtue their winning 2367 air rifle mark, shot today, and their first-place 2337 smallbore score from yesterday.
Today’s title is WVU’s second in two years and fifth overall. The Mountaineers are the first conference team to repeat as champions since Nebraska won the 2006 and 2007 titles. WVU previously won three straight conference tournaments from 1998-2000.
“Our goal was to come to the championships and leave with the title, and thanks to solid performances on both days, we were able to accomplish that,” says coach Jon Hammond. “This weekend was really satisfying because the team competed with focus and determination.
“After yesterday’s win, I stressed that we still needed to shoot our best today and win air rifle. I was happy to see the team step-up to that challenge, hold off the other squads and walk away as champions again. They fought for this championship. It was hot in the range, and the conditions were not ideal, but the team wanted to win.”
No. 4 Kentucky, the only GARC team to defeat WVU this season, finished second with an aggregate score of 4672, while No. 5 Army placed third with a score of 4644. The No. 6 Rebels (4625) and Memphis (4610) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Senior Nicco Campriani swept all three individual awards for the second consecutive season. His raw air rifle and smallbore scores of 597 (99, 100, 99, 100, 100, 99) and 591 (200 prone, 194 standing, 197 kneeling), respectively, gave the Florence, Italy, native a winning 1188 aggregate total. Additionally, he finished first in air rifle today with a final score of 700.5 (591 relay, 103.5 finals), and won the smallbore title yesterday with a score of 690.4.
WVU swept the top three combined score spots, as sophomore Petra Zublasing placed second with a score of 1175 (594 air, 581 smallbore) and senior Andy Lamson shot a season-high 1174 (587 air, 587 smallbore) and finished third. Additionally, senior Brandi Eskew scored 1167 (584 air, 583 smallbore) to finish in eighth place, while junior Justin Pentz shot a combined 1166 (588 air, 578 smallbore) and placed ninth.
The Wildcats shot 2350 and finished behind the Mountaineers in today’s air rifle competition. The Black Knights shot 2333 and placed third, while Nebraska and Ole Miss finished fourth (2330) and fifth (2326), respectively.
Zublasing finished behind Campriani in air rifle with a final score of 697.6 (594 relay, 103.6 finals).
Though they did not shoot in the finals, Pentz and senior Tommy Santelli both had strong days and shot 588, good enough for a 10th-place tie. Additionally, Lamson shot 587 and finished in 14th place.
Campriani, Zublasing, Pentz, Santelli and Lamson combined for the Mountaineers’ winning air rifle score.
“It was great to see Nicco and Petra in the finals today,” says Hammond. “Even though the other guys just missed the finals, they shot consistently and put forth the effort we needed to win. After a great weekend, I’m hoping for two more solid days at the national championships.”
The Mountaineers now break from action for two weeks before shooting for their nation-best 15th national title at the 2011 NCAA Championships, to be held March 11-12, in Columbus, Ga., at the Frank G. Lumpkin Jr. Center on the Columbus State campus and the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning.Two Day Recap
Smallbore – First Place – 690.4 (591 relay, 99.4 finals)
Air Rifle – First Place – 700.5 (597 relay, 103.5 finals)
Aggregate – First Place – 1188Brandi Eskew
Smallbore – Third Place – 681.7 (583 relay, 98.7 finals)
Air Rifle – 17th Place - 584
Aggregate – Eighth Place – 1167Michael Kulbacki
Smallbore – 28th Place – 569
Air Rifle – 21st Place - 582
Aggregate – 26th Place – 1151Andy Lamson
Smallbore – Second Place – 685.7 (587 relay, 98.7 finals)
Air Rifle – 14th Place – 587
Aggregate – Third Place – 1174Justin Pentz
Smallbore – 14th Place – 578
Air Rifle – 10th Place – 588
Aggregate – Ninth Place – 1166Andraz Poje
Smallbore – 51st Place – 556
Air Rifle – 37th Place - 574
Aggregate – 48th Place – 1130Tommy Santelli
Smallbore – 17th Place – 577
Air Rifle -10th Place – 588
Aggregate – 11th Place – 1165Kyle Smith
Smallbore – Eighth Place – 677.7 (582 relay, 95.7 finals)
Air Rifle – 18th Place - 583
Aggregate – 11th Place – 1165Petra Zublasing
Smallbore – Fourth Place – 680.0 (581 relay, 99 finals)
Air Rifle – Second Place – 697.6 (594 relay, 103.6 finals)
Aggregate – Second Place – 1175