MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team opened its spring season with a resounding 4691-4554 victory over Akron today at the WVU Rifle Range.
The Mountaineers (7-0, 4-0 GARC) earned victories in both guns, defeating the Zips 2367-2295 in air rifle and 2324-2259 in smallbore.
WVU’s combined score is its second-best mark of the season; the Mountaineers previously shot 4693 in a win over Army. Additionally, WVU’s air rifle mark of 2367 is a season high, topping its previous best of 2364, also shot against the Black Knights.
Seniors Justin Pentz and Michael Kulbacki, junior Petra Zublasing and freshman Thomas Kyanko counted toward both gun scores, while freshmen Meelis Kiisk and Taylor Ciotola contributed to the air rifle and smallbore tallies, respectively.
Today’s victory improves WVU’s all-time record over Akron to 10-0.
“This was a good way for the team to get back in to the swing of season,” says coach Jon Hammond. “We had a practice match in the range this week, but it’s always hard to replicate in-match situations. I’m happy with the way this team came out and stayed focused throughout a long day.”
Zublasing won both guns and finished first overall with an 1186 score. The Appiano, Italy, native scored 597 air rifle and 589 smallbore for the victories.
Kyanko and freshman Amy Bock placed second and third, respectively, with combined scores of 1174 and 1172; the marks were season highs for both shooters.
Luke Nelson paced the Zips with a combined score of 1146.
Six Mountaineers finished in the top four in air rifle, with four shooting personal bests. Kyanko finished second behind Zublasing’s first-place effort with a personal-best 594 score. Bock shot 589, also a personal best, and placed third, while Pentz, Ciotola and Kiisk shot 588 and finished in fourth place; the score was a personal best for Ciotola and Kiisk.
“Those four freshmen shot very well in air rifle today,” says Hammond. “I was happy to see them all get back in the range and shoot personal bests.”
Sarah Benjamin paced the Zips in air rifle with a 578 mark.
Bock finished second in smallbore with a score of 583, her third personal-best mark of the day. Kyanko shot 580 and finished in third place, while Ciotola shot 578 and finished fourth.
Nelson shot a team-best 570 for the Zips.
Due to technical difficulties, the match’s first relay was delayed for almost 90 minutes, with action starting and stopping periodically. The delay also impacted the day’s second relay.
“The adversity we faced today could have been a distraction for these two teams, but to the student-athletes’ credit, neither squad got off track or lost its focus,” Hammond explains. “I’m especially proud that my team was able to maintain its composure and still shoot strong scores.”
The Mountaineers stay at the WVU Rifle Range and plays host to No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday, Jan. 20. The match is expected to begin at 8 a.m.