MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University rifle team returns to the road for the first time since November for two matches this weekend.
The Mountaineers (7-0, 5-0 GARC) will shoot at Murray State’s Winthrow Invitational on Friday, Jan. 24, and at No. 11-ranked Memphis, a Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) foe, on Saturday, Jan. 25.
The Winthrow Invitational officially opens today, and several teams will shoot inside Pat Spurgin Rifle Range through Sunday. Official team and individual finishes will be available early next week.
Friday marks the first of three opportunities the Mountaineers will have to shoot at MSU’s range, as the Racers will play host to the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships March 14-15. WVU also will shoot an NCAA qualifying match at the range on Feb. 22.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone responds to shooting in different ranges this weekend,” says Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond. “A lot of the student-athletes haven’t shot in either of these ranges, so this will be good experience, especially given that Murray State is hosting the NCAA Championships. This will be a challenge, and that’s a good thing.”
The Mountaineers average an aggregate score of 4681 this season, shooting averages of 2358 air rifle and 2321 smallbore. Junior Maren Prediger
paces in air rifle with a 594 season average, while sophomore Garrett Spurgeon
owns a team-best 584 smallbore average.
WVU last shot at the Winthrow Invitational on Jan. 31, 2010. The Mountaineers split into two squads at the invite, with the Gold team finishing first with a 4678 mark, and the Blue team placing second with a 4638 score. Nicco Campriani finished first in air rifle (596) and smallbore (593).
The Mountaineers are 7-2 all-time against the Tigers (5-6, 2-2 GARC). The last regular-season meeting between the squads was memorable, as WVU shot a then NCAA- and school-best 4717 in a win over visiting Memphis (4634) on Oct. 16, 2012. Included in the victory was a school-record 2348 smallbore showing. Five Mountaineers combined for the records: graduate Petra Zublasing, senior Daniel Sojka
, juniors Taylor Ciotola
and Thomas Kyanko
, and Spurgeon.
WVU posted a strong showing in its 2014 spring opener on Jan. 19, defeating NC State, 4707-4604, at the WVU Rifle Range. The squad’s aggregate score is a season-high mark and the first time the team has shot past the 4700 threshold this year. The Mountaineers won both disciplines, shooting a season-high 2342 smallbore and 2365 air rifle, one shot short of their season-best mark.
Junior Ziva Dvorsak
was victorious in her Mountaineer debut, winning smallbore with a 589 mark. Prediger shot 597 for the air rifle win.
“That was a great score last weekend, but shooting that number again isn’t our main focus,” Hammond explains. “That performance raised our expectations for the team, but ultimately we’re working to improve, get better and have a solid performance.”