MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team will shoot an NCAA Qualifying match at Murray State’s Pat Spurgin Rifle Range, in Murray, Ky., on Feb. 22.
Tomorrow’s match is not against a specific opponent. Instead, the Mountaineers (10-0, 7-0 GARC) are shooting for a high score that will factor into their final NCAA Championships qualification average. The 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships eight-team field will be announced on Thursday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m., at NCAA.com.
Of note, this year’s national championships also will be held at Pat Spurgin Rifle Range on March 14-15.
“When we built this year’s schedule, we wanted to make sure we shot qualifiers in the same range as the NCAA Championships,” says Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond. “We’ve already shot there once this semester (January’s Withrow Invitational), and we found out last season that that is very important. Ranges are all very unique and different. The more familiarity you can get with your surroundings, the better your overall performance will be. Rifle shooters are very particular, and I think it’s important to gain familiarity – it is all about being well prepared. This weekend will be about a good performance and getting ready for the NCAA Championships.”
WVU returns to the range following a two-week break in action. The Mountaineers last defeated then-No. 2 Kentucky, 4702-4688, at the WVU Rifle Range on Feb. 8. The victory clinched the regular-season Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) title for the Mountaineers, the team’s seventh GARC title and first since 2010.
Prior to the Mountaineers’ win over the Wildcats, WVU defeated then-No. 3 Alaska-Fairbanks, 4709-4680, also at the WVU Rifle Range, on Feb. 6. The team has crossed the 4700 threshold four times this season.
“We put pressure on ourselves to have a good performance each match, and each individual shooter wants to shoot well every match,” says Hammond. “I think we’re focused on shooting our best this weekend, but one of the benefits of having a really solid season is it sets you up well for qualifiers. It’s certainly nice to be in that position. “
Juniors Ziva Dvorsak
and Maren Prediger
pace the squad in air rifle, with Dvorsak averaging 596.0 and Prediger averaging 595.0. Prediger, a Petersaurach, Germany, native, has shot below 595 only three times all season, while Dvorsak, a native of Ljubljana, Slovenia, has shot 596 or better in four of her five matches as a Mountaineer.
Dvorsak and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon
are tops on the team in smallbore, with Dvorsak boasting a 585.0 average in five matches and Spurgeon averaging 584.0. Spurgeon, a Canton, Mo., native, has shot a season-best 587 twice and has not shot below 580 this year.