MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team shot a season-best score and rolled to a 4707-4604 victory over NC State, today, in its spring-season opener at the WVU Rifle Range.
The Mountaineers (7-0, 5-0 GARC) trumped their Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) foe in both disciplines, winning smallbore, 2342-2274, and air rifle, 2365-2330. WVU’s smallbore mark is a season high, while its air rifle score is one shot short of its season-best mark.
“This was a good way to start the spring season. We accomplished what we set out to do,” says Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond. “Everyone is working hard and improving. We have a lot more strength on this team now, and everyone is shooting with a bit more freedom. I think the break in the schedule was good for this team. Everyone shot solid today, and they all put in a good performance.”
Junior Ziva Dvorsak
was spectacular in her Mountaineer debut, shooting a winning 589 (196 kneeling, 199 prone, 194 standing) smallbore score and finishing third in air rifle with a 594 mark. The Ljubljana, Slovenia, native, a counter in both guns, tallied a match-best 1183 aggregate score.
“We’re glad we put Ziva on the counting team today,” Hammond explains. “We were obviously hoping to see this type of performance from her. I think she probably surprised herself with her smallbore score, but I knew she was a high-caliber shooter capable of that mark. Ziva has adjusted quickly to the team. She fights for every point, and she worked hard today.”
The Mountaineers also took first in air rifle, as junior Maren Prediger
shot 597 (100-99-100-99-100-99) for the discipline win. Prediger, a Petersaurach, Germany, native, also was a counter in both guns. Joining Dvorsak and Prediger on the counting team were classmates Meelis Kiisk
(smallbore) and Thomas Kyanko
(smallbore/air rifle), sophomore Garrett Spurgeon
(smallbore/air rifle) and redshirt-freshman Jean-Pierre Lucas
Spurgeon finished second in smallbore with a season-best 587 mark. Kiisk shot 586, also a season high, and finished third, while Lucas tallied a career-best 585 and placed fourth. Senior Daniel Sojka
finished fifth with a season-best 581 mark.
The Mountaineers were particularly strong in smallbore today, as freshman Sydney Smith
and senior Chance Cover
shot career-best 578 and 577 marks, respectively. Additionally, Kyanko shot a program-record 200 prone.
“It was good to see so many personal bests today,” says Hammond. “JP’s score in particular stands out, as it was a big jump from his previous high (576). To shoot that in a match is encouraging. I think he got some great experience today as a counter. We displayed good depth across the board.”
Kiisk finished second behind Prediger in air rifle, matching his career high with a 595 mark. Spurgeon shot 591 and finished fourth behind Dvorsak, while sophomore Patrick Sunderman
shot a career-best 590 and placed fifth.
The Wolfpack were paced by Daniel Cliff in smallbore (574) and Alex Martin in air rifle (584).
Kiisk’s season-best aggregate score of 1181 was good enough for second place. Spurgeon tallied 1178 and finished third, while Lucas and Sunderman tied for fourth with 1168 marks, a career best for Lucas. Additionally, Smith’s aggregate total of 1157 also is a career high.
With the win, the Mountaineers push their perfect record against the Wolfpack to 15-0.
WVU takes to the road next weekend. The Mountaineers will shoot at the Winthrow Invitational in Murray, Ky., on Jan. 24, and at Memphis on Jan. 25.