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 five national championships in eight seasons, seven individual NCAA titles, seven consecutive Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships, three undefeated seasons, 112 All-America honors and 11 Academic All-America recognitions. Additionally, Hammond has overseen the careers of multiple Olympians, including 2016 Gold Medalists Ginny Thrasher and Nicco Campriani.
The 2015-16 Season
A combination of senior leadership and rookie skill helped the Mountaineers push their NCAA title streak to four straight with a commanding performance at the 2016 NCAA Championship, as WVU shot 4703 for its nation-best 18th title at Akron’s Louis & Freda Stile Athletics Field House. The score was the second-highest mark shot at the NCAA Championships, and WVU became the first program to win four straight NCAA titles since Alaska-Fairbanks did so from 2001-04.
For only the second time under Hammond, WVU won the NCAA smallbore and air rifle titles, shooting 2338 smallbore and 2365 air rifle. Additionally, Ginny Thrasher became the first freshman in NCAA history, and the first since Mountaineer Petra Zublasing did so in 2013, to sweep the individual titles, winning air rifle and smallbore. Thrasher is the program’s 18th shooter to capture an individual NCAA Championship. The Mountaineers also earned 20 All-America honors.
WVU’s build-up to the NCAA victory was nothing short of spectacular, as the squad completed an undefeated 12-0 season and won its seventh straight GARC title with a 4702 showing. Thrasher, the GARC Rookie of the Year, captured the conference smallbore title, and Garrett Spurgeon was named the GARC Shooter and Senior of the Year. Additionally, Hammond was named the GARC Coach of the Year for the third time.
The Mountaineers were particularly stunning in a win over Akron, as the squad shot an NCAA-record 4740 mark. WVU also tallied NCAA records in smallbore (2352) and air rifle (2388).
Hammond also continued another important streak in 2016, as Elizabeth Gratz’s third team honor gave the program at least one CoSIDA Academic All-America Team honoree in each of the last seven seasons.
The Mountaineers extended their NCAA title streak to three straight with a comeback victory at the 2015 NCAA Championships, scoring 4702 and winning their nation-best 17th title inside Alaska-Fairbanks’ Patty Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Down 12 points entering the final day of competition, having shot 2319 in smallbore, WVU overcame the deficit with a 2383 air rifle score, the second-best mark in NCAA and program history.
Three Mountaineers finished on the air rifle podium, including NCAA Champion Maren Prediger, WVU’s 17th individual national champion. Michael Bamsey placed second, and Spurgeon finished third.
WVU won its sixth straight GARC title with a 4709 showing at the conference championships. Spurgeon finished first in air rifle, while Ziva Dvorsak was named the GARC Shooter and Senior of the Year. Gratz was named the GARC Rookie of the Year.
The Mountaineers finished the year with 23 All-America honors and 28 All-GARC awards. Hammond was named the Rifle Winter 2015 CaptainU Coach of the Year for the second straight season.
Again, success in the classroom also was achieved, as Thomas Kyanko was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Men’s At-Large Second Team, his third career honor, and Prediger landed on the CoSIDA Academic All-America Women’s At-Large Second Team.
Despite the graduation of three-time NCAA Champion Petra Zublasing, the Mountaineers did not skip a beat in 2013-14, as Hammond led the Mountaineers to their second straight National Championship and a perfect 10-0 record.
Ranked No. 1 for the majority of the season, there was little doubt WVU would successfully defend its national title, as the team owned a 17-shot lead after the first day of competition, winning its first smallbore title under Hammond with a 2338 score. The Mountaineers secured the NCAA title with a first place, 2367 air rifle score, giving them a two-day total of 4705, an NCAA Championships’ record.
Three Mountaineers shot in each discipline final, with Prediger and Spurgeon finishing second in air rifle and smallbore, respectively.
Prior to the team’s national title victory, the squad scored its fifth straight GARC championship, shooting 4700. Prediger won the GARC air rifle title, and the Mountaineers claimed 14 All-GARC honors.
WVU collected 14 All-America honors, and Hammond was named the Rifle Winter 2014 CaptainU Coach of the Year. Kyanko also was named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America Men’s At-Large Second Team.
Hammond rallied his 2012-13 squad around 2012 Olympian Zublasing and a core of young, talented shooters. The Mountaineers navigated a difficult schedule and earned the program’s second National Championship in five years.
Ranked No. 1 nationally throughout the duration of the season, the Mountaineers overcame a one-shot smallbore deficit and a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships en route to winning the air rifle team title and bringing the National Championship trophy back to Morgantown for a nation-best 15th time.
Zublasing was instrumental in securing WVU’s victory, as she swept the individual titles and earned the tag as the CRCA Shooter of the Match. She became the first shooter to win both NCAA titles at one championship since 2001, and the second WVU student-athlete to win three career national titles in any sport.
Hammond was named the CRCA Coach of the Year, his second career honor. WVU scored 12 NRA All-America honors, including seven combined first-team accolades.
WVU also won its fourth straight GARC title. Zublasing was named the GARC Shooter and Senior of the Year, and Spurgeon earned the GARC Rookie of the Year honor.
The season ended with Zublasing (second team) and Kyanko (third team) earning Academic All-America awards.
Tasked with maintaining the Mountaineers’ level of success with a young team recovering from the loss of seven seniors, Hammond rose to the challenge in 2011-12. 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 Zublasing, the discipline champion and GARC Shooter of the Year. Additionally, 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 and placed sixth. Zublasing won the air rifle title, becoming the second Mountaineer to win the discipline title in as many years. 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. Zublasing also earned a spot on the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America At-Large Second Team.
Leading a team that boasted seven seniors, five of whom comprised his first Mountaineer recruiting class, the 2010-11 season was another championship year for Hammond.
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, 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 CoSIDA 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.
Hammond coached a talented, upperclass-laden squad to an 11-0 record in 2010, the team’s first undefeated season since 2001, and a GARC regular-season title.
The Mountaineers followed their unblemished regular season with a win at the GARC Championships and a sweep of the discipline titles. 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 rifle. WVU placed two in the smallbore finals, and following the championships, seven student-athletes earned 12 All-America honors.
The Early Years
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 NRA 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 Championships, as Tommy Santelli 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.
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 record (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, 58 Mountaineers have earned a spot on the annual CRCA All-Academic Honor List, including a program-best eight student-athletes in 2015 and 2016.
The Mountaineers also have been well represented on the annual CoSIDA Academic All-America At-Large Teams, with at least one student-athlete earning an honor in each of the last seven seasons.
Gratz earned her first career honor in 2016, as she was named to the Women’s At-Large Third Team. Campriani became the program’s third first-team selection in 2011, as he was one of 15 student-athletes named to the top team.
Responsible for restoring the glory and tradition to the storied WVU rifle program, Hammond has recruited not only elite athletes to compete in the 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 112 All-America honors, including 51 first-team recognitions, since Hammond became head coach.
The 2015 National Champion team earned 23 All-America honors, a program-high under Hammond.
Following a four-year drought, five Mountaineers scored five All-America honors in 2008, including first-team recognition for Lafe Kunkel and Brandi Eskew.
Hammond’s leadership also propels the Mountaineers toward fruitful futures. Four Mountaineers competed at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, including 2016 NCAA champion Thrasher, who won the first Gold medal of the games with a victory for the United States in the women’s 10m air rifle. Additionally, Campriani pushed his individual Olympic medal count to four with Gold-Medal showings in the men’s 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3 positions. He previously won Gold in the men’s 50m 3 positions and Silver in the men’s 10m air rifle at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Four Mountaineers competed at the 2014 ISSF World Championships, including a USA Junior Team invite for Spurgeon. 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 has competed in a wealth of senior international competitions since then, including the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics representing Great Britain. He also has competed in numerous ISSF World Cups throughout the world as well as the last two ISSF World Championships in 2010 and 2014.
One of his highlights was representing Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, 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.
Prior to Coaching at WVU
Hammond earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Leeds while competing for 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 and assisted 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.
Hammond is married to the former Lindsay Brooke. They have one son, Lewis.