MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team defeated Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) foe, No. 2 Kentucky, for the regular-season GARC title, 4702-4688, today, at the WVU Rifle Range.
This is the Mountaineers’ seventh regular-season GARC title, and the team won its last in 2010. Kentucky, the defending champions, had claimed the last three titles to date, and suffered its only conference loss of the season today.
“It’s something we haven’t done in a while and it’s nice to be the regular-season GARC champions,” says coach Jon Hammond. “It’s definitely something we really wanted and worked for.”
The Mountaineers (10-0, 7-0 GARC) dominated in air rifle in their last regular-season match, setting a new national and school record with a 2382 team score. The Wildcats (9-3, 6-1 GARC) trailed with a 2364 score.
“We’re all really satisfied,” Hammond explains. “We’ve been shooting good air rifle recently, but anytime you set a national record, it’s something to be proud of. The girls (Maren Prediger
and Ziva Dvorsak
) are obviously great air rifle shooters, but our other counters really stepped up today. It was just a great team effort across the board and was good to see.”
In smallbore, the Mountaineers fell to the Wildcats by four shots, 2324-2320.
The Mountaineers earned four of the top five spots in air rifle. Junior Prediger, classmate Dvorsak and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon
placed first with 596 marks. The score is one shot short of Dvorsak’s season high and is a career high for Spurgeon.
Taking fifth place, junior Thomas Kyanko
shot 594, tying his career high. Junior Meelis Kiisk
shot 585 to complete the Mountaineer scoring squad.
In smallbore, sophomore Patrick Sunderman
shot a career-high 585, placing second. Kyanko tied for second, one shot short of his season high. Freshman Jean-Pierre Lucas
shot 584, a shot short of his personal best, placing fourth.
“JP and Patrick had some of their best matches,” Hammond says. “It’s almost harder when you come in during the afternoon and shoot after the counters. They did a great job to refocus themselves for the afternoon and shoot such a great smallbore match.”
Dvorsak and Spurgeon earned sixth place with 580 marks. Kiisk shot 575, while Prediger shot 568.
Dvorsak, Kiisk, Kyanko, Prediger and Spurgeon made up the Mountaineer smallbore scoring squad.
Pacing the Wildcats in both guns, Emily Holsopple scored 587 in smallbore, finishing first. Her 596 air rifle score was good enough for fourth.
Of note, Kyanko’s team-high 1179 aggregate score tied his season-high aggregate, shot at Thursday’s match against Alaska-Fairbanks.
“When we get back to the range on Monday, it’s back to work,” says Hammond. “We will focus on our next match and not get too hung up about today, but it was nice to see those scores.”
Today’s win improves the Mountaineers to a 15-9 all-time record against Kentucky.
The Mountaineers head into the post-season in two weeks, shooting for the second time at Murray State, Feb. 22, in an NCAA Qualify match.