The West Virginia Mountaineer rifle team earned a bid to the NCAA national rifle championships. West Virginia enters the event March 8-9 at Ohio State University as the top-ranked team and No. 1 seed in the tournament.
WVU secured the spot with a stellar NCAA qualifying match last week at OSU on the same range where they’ll shoot for a record 15th national title.
The bids are based on the average of a team’s three highest regular season aggregate scores, with no more than one match at any given site. The average is added to the aggregate score of the team’s NCAA qualifying match to determine the final field. The Mountaineers qualified with a final score of 9432.0. It’s the seventh straight year the Mountaineers have qualified for the national tournament. WVU last won the title in 2009.
“The way the system works now, you really need to put an importance on every single match and we’ve tried to shoot our best each match this season,” said rifle Coach Jon Hammond. “Obviously we’ve had some really great performances and that’s good. We’re coming off a strong showing in our NCAA Qualifying match at Ohio State, and it feels great to know we get to shoot for the title in that range too.
This weekend, WVU (11-1, 5-1 Great American Rifle Conference) will shoot for its fourth straight GARC title in the conference championships in Oxford, Miss.
West Virginia has been ranked No. 1 in the NCAA since their second match of the season. Their only loss was to Kentucky, who qualified as the No. 2 seed. Kentucky won the national title in 2011. Defending champion TCU will gun for its third title in four years as the No. 3 seed.
Rounding out the eight-team field in the NCAA tournament are Alaska-Fairbanks, Jacksonville State, Army, Nebraska and Air Force.
WVU shot a 4647 and finished sixth in the 2012 NCAA championships. WVU finished second in air rifle and eighth in smallbore.
Senior shooter Petra Zublasing is the reigning individual champion in air rifle and will aim to defend her title. Zublasing is the 20th West Virginia shooter to hold an individual national title.