MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team opens its 2012-13 season at No. 5 Army this Sunday, Oct. 7, inside the Tronsrue Marksmanship Center, at 9 a.m.
Sunday’s match also will serve as the Mountaineers’ Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) opener; WVU is the three-time defending conference champions.
“This team is ready to shoot,” says seventh-year coach Jon Hammond. “I wouldn’t say we’re at our peak – there’s work to do, but that’s normal for the beginning of the season.”
The Mountaineers are 32-10 all-time against the Black Knights, including a 4693-4637 victory the squad earned last year. Returning senior Petra Zublasing
earned top marks that day, as she swept the individual competitions in record-setting fashion, shooting a collegiate-record 600 air rifle and 586 smallbore for a combined total of 1186. She was believed to be the first female collegiate shooter to earn the 600 air rifle score.
In addition to their regular-season meeting, the squads met twice in postseason action. WVU finished first (4681) and Army finished fifth (4653) at the GARC Championships, while the Black Knights topped the Mountaineers at the NCAA Championships and finished fourth (4658); the Mountaineers placed sixth (4647).
“Army is definitely one of the nation’s stronger teams,” Hammond expands. “They have some good shooters that shot well at last year’s national championships. They’re always going to be a tough team, and they’ll be a contender to make it to NCAAs again this season. This will be a good test for us right away.”
Five lettermen return for the Mountaineers, though for the first time in three years, the WVU roster is void of any holdovers from the team’s 2009 run to the NCAA title.
Zublasing is the squad’s lone senior. A three-time First Team National Rifle Association (NRA) All-American, the Appiano, Italy, native is fresh of her two 12th-place finishes at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. The defending air rifle national champion, Zublasing, also the 2012 GARC Shooter of the Year, looks to secure her first team national championship this season.
Joining Zublasing are junior Chance Cover
and sophomores Taylor Ciotola
, Meelis Kiisk
and Thomas Kyanko
, the 2012 GARC Rookie of the Year. Ciotola, Kiisk and Kyanko are all expected to contribute to the team’s scores throughout the year.
Junior Daniel Sojka
will don the Mountaineer uniform for the first time Sunday. A transfer from Murray State, he redshirted last season and has not competed collegiately in more than two years. Also expected to make their collegiate debuts are redshirt freshman Matthew Martin
and freshmen Garrett Spurgeon
and Patrick Sunderman
Of note, sophomore Maren Prediger
, a native of Petersaurach, Germany, has joined the Mountaineers this season but must sit out the first four matches in compliance with NCAA rules.
Live scores for Sunday’s match can be found HERE