Getting Back in the Range

  • By Ashleigh Pollart
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  • October 21, 2011 09:00 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - The Appiano, Italy, native has been all over the world. Her success in the rifle range has taken her to Australia, China, Poland, Germany, and next summer to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. But junior Petra Zublasing is as modest as ever. After a personally disappointing first season with the Mountaineers, her fast-paced summer (which included three International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup competitions) came as a major relief.

“My last year was pretty bad, so I did not know if I could come back from that,” Zublasing quietly explained. “I couldn’t really keep up with the seniors and I was kind of frustrated. So once I finally got it back, I was pretty happy that it was back.”

Her simple comment of “it was back” is an understatement. A strong international shooter, Zublasing, also an National Rifle Association first team air rifle All- American, has earned a slew of titles and awards for her talent in the range, including finishing second in air rifle at the 2011 NCAA Championships, winning the Bronze medal for the women’s 10m air rifle at the ISSF Fort Benning World Cup and most recently, finishing fourth in the women’s 10m air rifle at September’s World Cup Final in Wroclaw, Poland.

This latest competition featured 86 athletes from 31 countries: all elite athletes who earned their spot from success at the other legs of the World Cup circuit.

The Fort Benning World Cup, located in Georgia, was the fifth leg in this year’s ISSF World Cup Series and included more than 600 athletes from 70 different countries. The difference between collegiate competition and shooting at international competitions is, according to WVU’s resident international star, monumental.

“Here there are a lot of good shooters, but there are no shooters that have already been in the sport for 25 years,” laughed Zublasing. “There are no professionals. In the international matches, there are people who have shot since they were 12 and they’re 40 now. They have 28 more years of experience than me.”

With her wealth of international shooting experience, Zublasing’s leading role on the Mountaineer squad is undeniable. Her success and determination will prove only to push her team further toward its goal of a 15th national championship. Already in this season’s opening weekend, Zublasing lived up to expectations and helped her team to two victorious matches against Air Force and Nebraska, as she finished first overall in both matches with scores of 1177 and 1183, respectively. She also finished first in air rifle and smallbore in each match. With scores like these it may seem that Zublasing has reached her ceiling, but her personal goals are pushing her to reach even higher.

“It’s just mostly to improve the shooting itself; not so much the results, but the technique,” she said of her goals.

That focus on technique is precisely how Zublasing earned her Olympic quota this summer at the Fort Benning competition. When asked about the possibility of the Olympics next summer in London (there’s a very good chance she’ll go) Zublasing’s face immediately lit up.

“I honestly don’t know if I know what I have to do. I have no clue, this is my first Olympics,” she said.

One thing the modest Zublasing does know is that she doesn’t want the attention right before the life-changing opportunity.

“I might stay in the States to train because everyone’s freaking out about me going to the Olympics. Once I won the quota everyone was interested in me,” she said of the recognition she received throughout Wroclaw after the World Cup Finals.

At her numerous World Cup competitions, Zublasing said she competes against the same shooters all the time and that she will face off against them again if she goes to London next summer. At the international level however, the competition is not just with the other shooters but also an internal one, too.

“With the national team, we are still a team but we compete individually and win individually,” she explained. “There is no team competition at all. Here it’s all about the team and if you’re not good, the team’s not good.”

Looking at her record so far, Zublasing and her fellow Mountaineers should have no trouble being successful, but she seems to welcome the challenge regardless. When asked if being the second youngest shooter on the international circuit intimidated her, modest yet confident Zublasing answered without even flinching.

“No, it’s okay. The older ones sooner or later have to make space for us. There is always somebody that’s better than you.”

Zublasing and the No. 2-ranked Mountaineers open their home season on Saturday, Oct. 22 against No. 6 Army at the WVU Rifle Range at 8 am.

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