MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The No. 1- ranked West Virginia University rifle team shot a two-day total of 4700 and won its fifth straight Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships by a 28-point margin, today, at Mississippi’s Patricia C. Lamar National Guard Readiness Center, in Oxford, Miss.
The Mountaineers confirmed the victory with a second-place, 2363 air rifle showing, which followed their 2337, first-place smallbore score yesterday.
“It was a very satisfying weekend overall,” coach Jon Hammond says. “It’s great to win a conference championship. It wasn’t our best day in air rifle, but we set ourselves up so well yesterday that we were still able to walk away with the title.”
Now owning eight GARC championships titles, WVU continues to hold a conference record for most championships and most consecutive championships won (5).
No. 3 Kentucky finished second overall with a 4672 score, No. 4 Nebraska third (4665), No. 7 Army fourth (4653), No. 6 Memphis fifth (4634), Ole Miss sixth (4625) and No. 13 Navy seventh (4612). No. 15 NC State and No. 16 Akron took eighth and ninth with 4603 and 4590, respectively.
Junior Ziva Dvorsak
shot a career-high 598 (100-100-100-99-100-99) air rifle score in the open relay, pacing the Mountaineers in the discipline.
“Ziva had the best match of the day and a solid performance,” Hammond explains. “She was really satisfied, and it was a good ending to the weekend for her.”
Classmate Maren Prediger
shot 593 in the open relay and 206.7 in the individual final for first place in air rifle overall.
“You’ve got to hand it to Maren today,” says Hammond. “Despite her air rifle open relay, she got the job done in the final. That is a huge confidence booster for her, to be able to say that she is the air rifle champion in the conference.”
UK’s Emily Holsopple finished two points behind Prediger with 204.7 in the air rifle final for second place, while Ole Miss’s Melissa Quartarone placed third (182.3).
Dvorsak finished first overall with a two-day total of 1180. Of note, she qualified for the air rifle individual final today, but was unable to participate due to travel constraints.
Kentucky’s Connor Davis finished second overall (1176), and Nebraska’s Lauren Phillips took third (1174).
“The comfort level and the format for shooting was great preparation for the NCAA Championship,” says Hammond. “The important thing will be for us to analyze things we can work on and be as prepared as we possibly can in two weeks.”
The Mountaineers will return to action in two weeks, making their seventh straight appearance at the NCAA Championships. They will compete for a nation-best 16th title, March 14-15, at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range and CFSB Center, in Murray, Ky.