Making good on a promise put in place upon his hiring, Jon Hammond, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, has returned the West Virginia University rifle team to national glory, implementing a strategy for success that has seen one national championship, three Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships, one undefeated season, 43 National Rifle Association (NRA) All-America honors and five Capital One Academic All-America recognitions.
The 2011-12 Season
Tasked with maintaining the level of success the Mountaineers are now accustomed to with a young team recovering from the loss of seven seniors, Hammond rose to the challenge in his sixth season at WVU.
Nationally ranked in the top three all year, WVU bounced back from a regular-season loss to Kentucky to grab its third straight GARC title. The Mountaineers, winners of the GARC Sportsmanship Award, also won the air rifle title and were paced by discipline champion and GARC Shooter of the Year, junior Petra Zublasing. Additionally, redshirt freshman Thomas Kyanko was named the GARC Rookie of the Year, and the squad earned 12 All-GARC honors.
The team, boasting a 12-2 record, including a 5-1 mark in conference action, advanced to the NCAA Championships for the sixth straight season. Despite a sixth-place finish, the tournament was filled with highlights, as Zublasing won the air rifle title, becoming the second straight Mountaineer to win the discipline title. She also finished sixth in smallbore, while freshman Taylor Ciotola placed sixth in air rifle. As a team, WVU finished second in air rifle and eighth in smallbore.
Following the national championships, six Mountaineers earned eight NRA All-America honors, including first team air rifle and smallbore marks for Zublasing, while Hammond was named the NRA Distinguished College Coach for the second time.
At season’s end, Zublasing continued WVU’s streak of placing a shooter on the Capital One Academic All-America At-Large Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), when she earned second team honors. The Mountaineers have now had at least one honoree in each of the last three seasons.
Leading a team that boasted seven seniors, five of whom comprised his first Mountaineer recruiting class, Hammond saw his fifth season at WVU become another championship year.
Though narrowly edged by GARC rival Kentucky at the 2011 NCAA Rifle Championships, the Mountaineers, ranked No. 1 in the nation throughout the season, won the air rifle team title and finished second overall in smallbore. Additionally, senior Nicco Campriani won the NCAA air rifle title, the first WVU shooter to earn a national championship since 1997. Campriani also finished second in the smallbore competition. All told, the Mountaineers earned a combined five top-five air rifle and smallbore finishes, and six shooters scored eight NRA All-America honors.
Posting an 11-2 overall record and a 5-1 conference mark, the Mountaineers successfully defended their GARC title and also swept the air rifle and smallbore titles. WVU was the first conference team to repeat as champions since Nebraska (2006, ’07). Campriani, the individual air rifle, smallbore and combined score champion, was named the GARC Shooter and Senior of the Year.
Following the season, Campriani and classmate Andy Lamson were named to the Capital One Academic All-America Men’s At-Large First and Second Teams, respectively. Campriani was the third Mountaineer in program history to receive the first-team honor. He also was named the WVU Red Brown Cup honoree.
Hammond coached a talented, upperclass-laden squad to an 11-0 record in 2010, the team’s first since 2001, and a GARC regular-season title.
The Mountaineers followed their unblemished regular season with a win at the GARC Championships, sweeping both discipline titles and walking away with the conference trophy. The victory was the program’s fourth overall and first since 2000. At his first GARC Championships, transfer Campriani won the smallbore, air rifle and combined score titles, and the Mountaineers earned 18 All-GARC honors, including eight first team awards. Hammond was named the GARC Coach of the Year, his second distinction in three seasons.
WVU concluded the 2010 campaign with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships; the Mountaineers, ranked No. 1 in the nation for the majority of the season, finished third in smallbore and fifth in air gun. WVU placed two in the smallbore finals, and following the championships, seven student-athletes earned 12 All-America honors.
Hammond made a name for himself in the coaching ranks in 2009, as he took a young, rising WVU squad to the NCAA Championships and returned with the program’s 14th trophy.
A season that was built on momentum, WVU went 11-1 overall, earned its first No. 1 CRCA ranking in over a decade, had seven student-athletes earn All-America honors, improved its GARC standing and finished second at the league championship, captured the nation’s air rifle championship and won the aforementioned NCAA title.
The Mountaineers’ 2009 national-title run was especially noteworthy given the pressure the team overcame. After a poor smallbore showing on the championships’ first day, WVU found itself in sixth place. Hammond’s team regrouped and put forth a strong air rifle showing, with all four competitors finishing in the top 10.
Additionally, Hammond’s squad was strong at the 2009 GARC Championship, as TommSantelli finished first overall, second in air rifle and fifth in smallbore. In total, WVU had seven top-10 finishes between the two disciplines.
For his efforts all season, Hammond earned his first CRCA Coach of the Year honor.
The Early Years
In only his second year as head coach, Hammond led the 2007-08 rifle squad to an 8-3 record, a third-place finish at the GARC Championships and a sixth-place standing at the NCAA Championships, the Mountaineers’ first appearance in six seasons.
Hammond guided five Mountaineers to NRA smallbore All-America honors that season and also earned individual recognition, as he was named the GARC Coach of the Year and listed as the 2008 NRA Distinguished College Coach.
Hammond took over the Mountaineer rifle program upon the retirement of long-time coach Marsha Beasley in 2006. That season, he guided the 2006-07 team to its first winning season (6-4) since 2003.
A strong proponent for achievement at the range and in the classroom, Hammond’s shooters have proven to be well-rounded student-athletes.
Since his arrival in the fall of 2006, 33 Mountaineers have earned a spot on the annual Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association All-Academic Honor List, including a program-best seven student-athletes in 2011.
The Mountaineers also have been well represented on the annual Capital One Academic All-America At-Large Teams.
Zublasing became the third Mountaineer in as many seasons to be recognized, as she was named to the Capital One Academic All-America At-Large Second Team in 2012. One year prior, Campriani became the program’s third first-team selection, as he was one of 15 student-athletes named to the top team. Additionally, Lamson, a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, was named to the second team for the second straight season in 2011.
Responsible for restoring the glory and tradition to the storied WVU rifle program, Hammond has recruited not only elite athletes to compete in the Old Gold and Blue, but he also has continued to teach and foster his team’s talents so each student-athlete is a stronger competitor upon graduation. Athletic accolades and recognitions go hand-in-hand with such advancements.
The Mountaineers have earned a combined 43 NRA All-America honors, including 17 first-team recognitions, since Hammond became head coach.
Following a four-year drought, five Mountaineers scored five All-America honors in 2008, including first-team recognition for senior Lafe Kunkel and freshman Brandi Eskew.
Seven Mountaineers earned a collective 22 All-America honors in two seasons, as the 2009 NCAA champion squad collected 10 awards, while the 2010 team earned 12. The seven honorees each season were a decade-high mark.
Six Mountaineers earned eight total All-America honors in 2011 and 2012, including first-team honors for Campriani in 2011 and Zublasing in 2012.
Hammond’s leadership also propels the Mountaineers toward fruitful futures. Campriani and Zublasing earned spots on the Italian National Team for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, and Campriani won Gold in the men’s 50m 3 positions and Silver in the men’s 10m air rifle. He also finished eighth in the men’s 50m rifle prone. Additionally, Bryant Wallizer was invited to train at the US Olympic Training Center immediately following his 2010 graduation.
In addition to his busy coaching schedule, Hammond still competes for the Great Britain National Team. Hammond started shooting when he was nine years old. As a junior, Hammond won both domestic and international honors, highlighted by the 50m rifle prone World Junior Champion title in Barcelona in 1998.
Hammond competed in his second straight Olympics in 2012, as he represented Great Britain at the London Summer Games. He competed in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions and the men’s 50m rifle prone, finishing 17th overall with a 593 total.
Following his successful second season as the Mountaineers’ coach, Hammond spent the 2008 summer as an athlete, competing at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. In 2010, he competed at the 50th ISSF World Championships, in Munich, Germany, and the Commonwealth Games in Dehli, India, where he became the most successful Scottish Athlete in a single Commonwealth Games winning four medals – two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze.
Hammond continues to shoot on the ISSF World Cup circuit on an annual basis and is currently ranked inside the top 25 in the ISSF World Rankings.
Prior to Coaching at WVU
Hammond earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Leeds while competing on its rifle team.
Hammond then journeyed to West Virginia to spend the 2002-03 season competing for the WVU rifle team while working toward his master’s degree in sport management. Hammond returned to Morgantown in 2006 and began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant with the Mountaineers.
In addition to his highly successful career as a shooter, Hammond also has volunteered his time to help others. While a member of the Leeds squad, he helped coach beginning shooters as well as assist the team with organizational tasks.
Hammond also helped initiate Blind Shooting in Scotland with his father. He worked closely with a group from the Grampian Society for the Blind to teach basic rifle techniques. He gave the shooters positional and mental advice and undertook the task of raising funds for all of the equipment, as well as organizing a venue to hold the club’s matches.
|Coach Hammond's Record|
|2008||West Virginia||8-3 (NCAA)|
|2009||West Virginia||11-1 (NCAA champions)|
|2010||West Virginia||11-0 (NCAA)|
|2011||West Virginia||11-2 (NCAA runnerup)|
|2012||West Virginia||12-2 (NCAA)|
|2013||West Virginia||11-1 (NCAA champions)|