MURRAY, Ky. — The West Virginia University Rifle Team began defense of it’s 2013 National Championship with a strong statement Friday in Murray, Kentucky. The Mountaineers won the NCAA smallbore title and put themselves in position to contend for a record 16th national championship on Saturday.
“I don’t know if we expected this result, but I knew we were capable of this,” said Coach Jon Hammond. “They are all really good, experienced shooters. We prepared carefully for this championship. We w
anted them to be comfortable shooting this match, and they were. They were confident, and they were able to shoot scores in and around their season averages. You can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.”
It was the first time the Mountaineers have won the smallbore title in Hammond’s eight years as coach.
Five Mountaineer shooters combined for the team score of 2338. Juniors Ziva Dvorsak 588, Thomas Kyanko 584,and Meelis Kiisk 581. Sophomore Garrett Spurgeon shot 585. Junior Maren Prediger shot 571.
Three shooters represented WVU in the discipline final. Spurgeon placed second overall with a score of 451.6, while Kyanko finished sixth (412.6) and Dvorsak seventh (401.0). This was the second straight NCAA final for Kyanko, a Wellsburg, W.Va., native, as he finished seventh in smallbore at last year’s championships.
“Three shooters in the final says a lot about this team this year,” said Hammond. “There have been a lot of really good team performances, but it’s all been built around solid individual performances. Today’s final was very exciting with three shooters.”
The finals were extremely tight. West Virginia’s Spurgeon and Alaska-Fairbanks shooter Tim Sherry were virtually tied through the final five shots. Sherry led by four-tenths of a point entering the final shot and eventually won the small bore title by a half point 452.1
The top ranked Mountaineers lead third ranked Alaska-Fairbanks by 17 shots going into day two of the competition. Number six Memphis is in third place with 2320, Number two Kentucky is fourth with 2316 and fourth ranked Nebraska holds the fifth spot in the NCAA match at 2313.
The first day score is the second highest of the season for WVU who finished the regular season 10-0 and 7-0 in the Great American Rifle Conference.
Today, WVU will shoot for the overall title as well as their second straight title in air rifle .
“We will approach tomorrow as a completely new day,” said Hammond following the team’s performance on Friday. “We can’t worry about the score at all. We need to forget about today and re-focus. We don’t want to be up or down. We want to be very even tomorrow – focused, prepared and professional. We want to shoot our best.”