MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 4-ranked West Virginia University rifle team took the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) Championship crown today with a winning 2381 air rifle score shot in a virtual match, in Morgantown, West Virginia.
The Mountaineers (7-1, 5-1 GARC) captured their conference-best 14th championship crown with a 4727 aggregate score. In addition to today’s air rifle victory, WVU won the smallbore title on Saturday with a 2346 total.
“We’re delighted to win the conference championship,” coach Jon Hammond said. “We also had another solid day today. It definitely had a different feel to a normal championship. Anytime you perform well and win a championship it’s something to be proud of. With that being said, we know there is still plenty of work to be done over the next two weeks. We want to stay focused and work hard to keep improving through the end of our season.”
Junior Jarred Eddy finished the weekend with the championship’s second-best combined score, earning 589 (195 kneeling, 197 prone, 197 standing) smallbore and 597 (100-99-99-99-100-100) air rifle for an aggregate score of 1186. Eddy’s air rifle total was a personal best.
Eddy was joined by fellow junior Verena Zaisberger who earned a championships third-best combined score, 588 (195 kneeling, 200 prone, 193 standing) smallbore and 598 (100-100-100-100-100-98) air rifle for an aggregate score of 1186. Zaisberger’s smallbore total was a personal best and her air rifle total tied her personal best.
Sophomore Calista Smoyer took first place in this afternoon’s air rifle competition, earning a 598 with 51 centers (100-100-98-100-100-100) mark. Smoyer’s air rifle total tied a personal best. She was followed by Zaisberger (598 with 47 centers) in second place and Eddy (597 with 53 centers) in third place. Freshman Matt Sanchez (100-100-99-100-99-99) tied for fourth place in air rifle with Kentucky’s Mary Tucker and Ole Miss’s Lea Horvath with matching 597s.
Additionally, freshman Tal Engler (593), freshman Molly McGhin (593), sophomore Akihito Shimizu (592), sophomore Malori Brown (590), senior Sarah Osborn (590) and freshman Becca Lamb (587) also shot in Sunday’s competition.
“It’s wonderful to see some strong individual performances over the weekend,” Hammond said. “Tal placing second yesterday in smallbore, and today Calista winning a conference championship in air rifle, followed by Verena and Jared completing the podium. Finally, Jared and Verena taking second and third in the individual combined scores.
“There is a lot for us to be proud of, but I know they will be ready to get back in the range this week, and we simply move to the next match in two weeks’ time. After the season we can take more time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments and journey that we have had this season.”
No. 2 Kentucky, the only squad to defeat the Mountaineers in the regular season, finished second with a two-day score of 4700, while No. 10 Army placed third with a 4692 total. No. 3 Ole Miss finished in fourth with a 4689 mark, and No. 8 Memphis shot 4685 and placed fifth.
Navy finished in sixth place with a 4667 score, with Akron (4664), No. 6 Nebraska (4661) and NC State (4648) rounding out the field.
Five Mountaineers counted toward the team’s air rifle score today – Eddy, Engler, McGhin, Shimizu and Smoyer.
Looking ahead, the Mountaineers will embark on a week of preparation before competing in the 2021 NCAA Rifle Championships, March 12-13, at Ohio State University, in Columbus.