MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team has earned a bid to the 2012 NCAA Rifle Championships, as announced this evening by the NCAA Rifle Committee.
Ohio State plays host to the championships March 9-10 at the Converse Hall and French Field House, in Columbus, Ohio.
This year’s qualification is the Mountaineers’ (12-2, 5-1 GARC) fifth straight; WVU, the 2009 national champion, will shoot for its nation-best 15th title.
“The team is really happy to qualify for this year’s championships,” says sixth-year coach Jon Hammond. “Now, we can focus 100 percent on getting prepared for the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships and the national championships.
“One of my big goals was to turn this program in to a consistent, competitive team. Not only do we want to qualify for the championships, but we want to go there, be competitive and give ourselves an opportunity to be the best team that day.”
No. 1 TCU, the 2010 national champion, and No. 2 Kentucky, the defending champion, lead the eight-team field; the Horned Frogs and the Wildcats are the only squads to defeat the Mountaineers this season.
Alaska-Fairbanks, Army, Nevada, UTEP and Jacksonville State round out this year’s field.
The eight teams qualified based on the average of the three highest regular-season aggregate scores with no more than one match at any given site. The average of the three highest scores was added to the aggregate scores from the designated qualifiers to determine the final field.
WVU shot 4697 and finished in second place at last year’s championships; the Wildcats shot 4700 and won their first national championship. The Mountaineers are the defending air rifle champions and have earned the discipline title twice in the last three years.
Individuals selected to participate at the championships will be announced on Thursday.
The Mountaineers are set to shoot for their third straight GARC title this weekend, Feb. 25-26, at the conference championships, in Oxford, Miss.