MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team has earned a bid to the 2013 NCAA Rifle Championships, as announced this evening by the NCAA Rifle Committee.
Ohio State plays host to the championships March 8-9 at Converse Hall and French Field House, in Columbus, Ohio.
The Mountaineers (11-1, 5-1 GARC) qualified as the field’s top-ranked team with a 9432.0 qualification mark. This is WVU’s seventh straight qualification. The Mountaineers, who last won a title at the 2009 NCAA Championships, will shoot for their nation-best 15th title.
“The way the system works now, you really need to put an importance on every single match, and we’ve tried to shoot our best each match this season,” says seventh-year coach Jon Hammond. “Obviously, we’ve had some really great performances, and that’s good. We’re coming off a strong showing in our NCAA Qualifying Match at Ohio State, and it feels great to know we get to shoot for the title in that range, too.
“We’ve worked really hard this season, and each of the shooters has improved a lot. Now, we just have to maintain our focus for these last two matches.”
Kentucky, the only team to defeat the Mountaineers this season and the 2011 NCAA champions, qualified as the No. 2 seed. TCU, the reigning champions, will shoot for their third title in four years as the No. 3 seed.
Alaska-Fairbanks, Jacksonville State, Army, Nebraska and Air Force round out this year’s eight-team field.
The squads qualified based on the average of their three highest regular-season aggregate scores, with no more than one match at any given site. The average of the three scores was added to the aggregate total from the team’s designated qualifier to determine the final field.
WVU shot 4647 and finished sixth at the 2012 NCAA Championships, also at OSU. The Mountaineers finished second (2350) in air rifle and eighth (2297) in smallbore.
Senior Petra Zublasing
looks to defend her air rifle title, as she won the 2012 championship with a 696.2 combined score. The Appiano, Italy, native shot 593 in the open relay and 103.2 in the final to become the 16th WVU rifle national champion. The Mountaineers have 20 total individual titles.
Individuals selected to participate at the championships will be announced Thursday.
The Mountaineers will shoot for their fourth straight Great American Rifle Conference title this weekend, Feb. 23-24, at the conference championships, in Oxford, Miss.