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Rifle team makes it back-to-back national titles

MURRAY, Ky. – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team secured its16th NCAA championship Sunday with a 4705 score at the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships at Murray State. 

The title was the second straight for the Mountaineers and third under eight-year coach Jon Hammond. WVU’s first title under Hammond came in 2009. The rifle team is the only WVU program to win an NCAA championship.

The Mountaineers’ combined score is an NCAA Championships’ record, trumping the previous record of 4700, shot by Kentucky in 2011. WVU is the first team to win consecutive NCAA titles since Alaska-Fairbanks won three straight from 2006-08. The Mountaineers last won back-to-back championships with four straight victories from 1995-98.

No. 3 Alaska-Fairbanks totaled 4677 and finished second, while No. 2 Kentucky shot 4675 and placed third. No. 6 Memphis finished fourth (4669), and No. 4 Nebraska placed fifth (4660). 

WVU breezed to victory on the strength of its winning 2367 air rifle score, shot this morning. The NCAA air rifle title also is the second straight for the Mountaineers.

Five Mountaineers shot for the team score, with juniors Maren Prediger (596), Ziva Dvorsak (594) and Thomas Kyanko (586), and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon (591) counting toward the final tally. Junior Meelis Kiisk shot 582 today.

Prediger, Dvorsak and Spurgeon all advanced to the air rifle final, the second final in as many days for Dvorsak and Spurgeon. Prediger, a Petersaurach, Germany, native, entered the final with the championships’ best relay score and finished as the national runner-up with a 205.0 mark. Kentucky’s Connor Davis edged out Prediger with a 205.4 mark.

Dvorsak, a native of Slovenia, finished third with a 185.1 mark; she placed seventh in smallbore yesterday. Additionally, Spurgeon, a Canton, Mo., native, shot 143.5 in the final and placed fifth. He finished second in smallbore Friday.

The Mountaineers entered today’s air rifle competition with a 17-shot lead, having secured the smallbore title yesterday with a 2338 score. That title was the first-ever under Hammond.

WVU, the five-time reigning Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) champions, finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 10-0 overall record and a 7-0 conference mark.





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