MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team opened the 2012-13 season with a bang, shooting a school-record 4709 and defeating No. 5 Army, 4709-4631, today, at the Tronsrue Marksmanship Center, in West Point, N.Y.
The Mountaineers’ (1-0, 1-0 GARC) team total tops the previous high of 4704, shot three times during the 2010-11 season. Today’s victory, also the team’s first Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) win of the season, was aided by a smallbore school-record score of 2348; the previous high of 2337 was shot at the 2011 GARC Championships on Feb. 26, 2011.
“This was a great start for the team,” says seventh-year coach Jon Hammond. “I didn’t necessarily expect us to shoot this high, but we had some great individual performances today. They’ve been working hard in practice, and I think they showed that today. That’s the greatest thing to see.
“We hope this score is what we can shoot consistently this season. We have a stronger team this year; everyone is a year older and has improved since the beginning of last year. We’ve also added some talented shooters, too.”
WVU defeated Army in both guns, winning smallbore, 2348-2303, and air rifle, 2361-2328.
Six Mountaineers combined for the team total record: senior Petra Zublasing
, junior Daniel Sojka
, sophomores Thomas Kyanko
(smallbore score only), Meelis Kiisk
(air rifle score only) and Taylor Ciotola
, and freshman Garrett Spurgeon
Zublasing swept the individual titles, shooting 592 air rifle (99-97-99-99-98-100) and 591 smallbore (198 prone, 194 standing, 199 kneeling) for an aggregate total of 1183. The Appiano, Italy, native matched the kneeling school record and was two points short of the school smallbore record.
“I was expecting Petra to pick it right back up from where she left off last season,” Hammond says of the 2012 Olympian and defending national air rifle champion. “I don’t think she’s at her peak at all, but she’s right where she wants to be and is happy with her performance. She wanted to rest and recover after the London Games, and she needed that break. She can shoot higher in both guns, and that will be fun to watch.”
Kyanko finished second overall with a personal-best score of 1182, while Spurgeon finished third in his Mountaineer debut with a total of 1179. Kiisk and Sojka tied for fifth place with totals of 1167; the mark was a personal best for Kiisk.
Army’s Michael Matthews paced the Black Knights and finished fourth with a combined score of 1169.
Kyanko had a stellar day, tying Zublasing for the smallbore win with a personal-best mark of 591 (200 prone, 193 standing, 198 kneeling); the Wellsburg, W.Va., native’s prone score is a program best. Spurgeon finished third with a score of 589 and also shot a school-best 200 prone. Matthews shot 588 and finished fourth, while Kiisk matched his personal-best mark of 581 and placed fifth.
The Mountaineers took the top five spots in air rifle today, with Kyanko finishing one shot behind Zublasing with a 591 mark. Spurgeon and Sojka tied for third with 590s, while Ciotola and freshman Patrick Sunderman
tied for fifth place with 589s. Christopher Malachosky paced the Black Knights and finished seventh with a score of 588.
“Petra, Thomas and Garrett competed for those top spots today; they pushed each other,” Hammond adds. “This team is very competitive with each other, but it’s a great balance of competition and support. They all want to beat each other, but they’re all happy for each other when they do well, too.”
Of note, junior Chance Cover
shot a personal-best 584 air rifle.
With today’s win, the Mountaineers, the three-time defending GARC champions, improve to 33-10 all-time against the Black Knights.
WVU stays on the road next weekend and shoots against No. 10 Ohio State and Akron on Oct. 13, at OSU’s Converse Hall and French Field House, in Columbus, Ohio.