MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team suffered its first Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) loss of the season, as the Mountaineers fell, 4680-4650, to No. 2 Kentucky, today, at the WVU Rifle Range.
The Mountaineers (9-2, 4-1 GARC) were swept by the Wildcats (10-1, 5-0 GARC) in both guns, with UK, the defending national champion, winning air rifle, 2365-2356, and smallbore, 2315-2294.
“We had a low-scoring smallbore day today, and we really need to improve that this weekend,” ‘says coach Jon Hammond. “We’ve had better days, but we’ll get it back on track.”
By virtue of today’s win, the Wildcats have the edge in the race for the 2011 GARC regular-season title. Both UK and WVU will face NC State this weekend, and those matches will determine the conference regular-season champion.
UK’s Henri Junghanel shot 1171 and finished first overall, while teammates Ethan Settlemires and Emily Holsopple shot 1170 each and tied for second place.
Freshman Taylor Ciotola paced the Mountaineers with combined scores of 1165, while classmate Meelis Kiisk shot a personal-best 1164 and finished second on the team. Senior Michael Kulbacki shot 1163 and finished third on the team, while freshman Thomas Kyanko registered a 1162.
Ciotola and Kulbacki shot 590 air rifle and finished first on the team and fourth overall; the mark is a personal best for Ciotola, his third straight, and a season high for Kulbacki. Kyanko and Kiisk shot 588 and tied for eighth place. Settlemires shot 593 for the discipline win.
Kiisk paced the Mountaineers in smallbore and shot 576, good enough for sixth place. Ciotola finished seventh with a 575, and Kyanko placed eighth with a 574. Junghanel won smallbore with a 580.
Senior Justin Pentz, Kiisk, Kulbacki, Kyanko and Ciotola combined for the air rifle score; freshman Amy Bock replaced Kiisk in the smallbore lineup.
Of note, the Mountaineers were without the services of junior All-American Petra Zublasing, as she is representing the Italian National Team at the Rocky Mountain Rifle Championships, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Mountaineers return to the range Sunday and play host to NC State at 8 a.m.