MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team triumphed over No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks, 4676-4626, in today’s match at the WVU Rifle Range.
The Mountaineers (8-0, 4-0 GARC) defeated the Nanooks (5-4) in both guns, winning air rifle, 2358-2339, and smallbore, 2318-2287.
Seniors Michael Kulbacki and Justin Pentz, and freshmen Amy Bock, Taylor Ciotola and Thomas Kyanko contributed their air rifle and smallbore talent to WVU’s overall score.
WVU’s top shooter, junior Petra Zublasing, sat out for the first time this season due to a knee issue.
Today’s victory brings the Mountaineers to a 6-6 all-time series tie with the Nanooks – a rivalry that both teams look forward to each year. The teams are two of the best in the nation and combined own an impressive 24 NCAA titles.
“It was definitely a really good win for many reasons. It’s cool to even the series, and they’ve been the program of the last decade. They’re second to us in terms of national championships,” explains coach Jon Hammond. “More importantly, it was a good performance by our team today. It was really pleasing for me to see how they performed without Petra on the team.”
Ciotola and Kyanko tied for first place overall with scores of 1170; Ciotola scored 586 in the air rifle competition and 584 smallbore, while Kyanko earned a 590 air rifle and a 580 smallbore score. Ciotola’s overall score was a personal best.
Kulbacki and Pentz tied for second overall with scores of 1167, Bock’s score of 1165 was good enough for third.
The Nanooks were paced in the overall competition by Ryan Anderson and Mats Eriksson, each with scores of 1159.
The Mountaineers dominated the air rifle competition with a three-way tie for first place between Kulbacki, Kyanko and Pentz (590). Bock’s score of 588 was good enough for fourth place. Alaska’s Anderson represented the Nanooks with a score of 587, while WVU’s Ciotola followed with a score of 586.
WVU also earned the top five spots in the smallbore competition. Ciotola claimed first place with a personal best score of 584. Kyanko’s score of 580 earned him second place while Bock, Kulbacki and Pentz tied for third place with scores of 577.
“Taylor definitely stood out today with his smallbore score - not only was it a personal best, but the mark also beat his old score by quite a few points,” says Hammond. “He’s been improving a lot this semester and really working hard. It was just a really good performance from him today in both guns.”
Eriksson paced the Nanooks with a smallbore score of 575.
The Mountaineers will travel to Ohio State to battle the Buckeyes on Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Lt. Hugh W. Wylie Range in Converse Hall at 8 a.m.