The West Virginia Mountaineers dominated the leaderboard on their way to winning an NCAA-best 15th NCAA Rifle Championship this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio, on the campus of the The Ohio State University.
The Mountaineers overcame a one-shot smallbore deficit and outshot the field in air rifle, scoring 2363 for an aggregate total of 4679. Senior Petra Zublasing was the driving force behind the Mountaineers 15th rifle championships, earning individual titles in both Smallbore and Air Rifle events. In Air Rifle, she was near-perfect, shooting 598 (99-100-100-100-100-99) in the second relay and 103.7 in the final. The Appiano, Italy, native and 2012 Olympian won the smallbore title Saturday with a 688.3 score. Zublasing is the first shooter to win both NCAA titles at one championship since three-time Olympic medalist and current USA Shooting National Team member Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, N.J.) took the victories in 2001.
Dave Johnson, Director of Operations for USA Shooting. “The stands were at near capacity during the final day on Saturday. I’ve watched many of these championships and Petra exhibited the best in an athlete all season including discipline and focus, support of her teammates, and leadership by example in her performance. She was a great example to watch as she strove for excellence.”
The No. 2-ranked Kentucky Wildcats finished second overall with an aggregate total of 4670. Kentucky, the only team to defeat WVU this season, also finished second in air rifle with a 2355 score. No. 3 TCU, the defending national champions, placed third with a 4664 score; the Horned Frogs would capture the smallbore title Saturday with a 2317 total.
USA Shooting National and National Junior Team members were a present force in the race for both the individual and team glory.
Sarah Scherer, a 2012 Olympian, concluded her stellar NCAA career for Texas Christian University with a second-place finish in Air Rifle followed by a third-place finish in Smallbore (.22 caliber). Scherer and Zublasing were the only two athletes to make finals in both events.
TCU bids adieu to a trio of talented seniors that finish their careers with an impressive resume. Scherer and her National Team cohort Sarah Beard (Indianapolis, Ind.) along withCaitlin Morrissey (Topeka, Kan.) lost just three matches in their career and just once in the regular season. They had a four-year record of 48-3. In four years, they claimed two National Championships (2010 and 2012) and finished third twice (2011 and 2013). Scherer and Beard earned first-team All-America honors by the NRA in both Air and Smallbore Rifle events followed by Morrissey who was a second-team All-America in Air Rifle and an honorable mention in Smallbore.
National Junior team member Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska) finished fourth in the individual smallbore event competing for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks while fellow Junior Team member Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) earned a similar fourth-place finish in the Air Rifle event as a freshman for the Kentucky Wildcats. Davis was selected to the first team in air rifle, while also being a part of the second team in smallbore. Davis shot a season-high 597 twice, vs. TCU and Alaska-Fairbanks. Anderson collected an All-America honor in smallbore while also being named to the second team in Air Rifle.
Kentucky junior and USA Shooting Junior Team member Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.)was honored as second team in air rifle and first team in smallbore, an honor she also received following the 2012 season. Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.) was an honorable mention in air rifle as well for the Wildcats.
WVU sophomore and National Junior Team member Taylor Ciotola also was named to the NRA Air Rifle and Smallbore All-America First Teams. The honors are the Pasadena, Md., native’s first career first-team selections. He was named to the smallbore honorable mention team last year.Freshman Garrett Spurgeon joined his WVU and USA Shooting teammate Ciotola on the smallbore first team.
Other USA Shooting National Junior Team members receiving top NRA All-America honors for the 2012-13 NCAA Rifle season were:
- Daniel Hermsmeier (Univ. of Memphis; First-Team Smallbore/Air)
- Michael Matthews (Army; First-Team Smallbore)
- Michael Liuzza (Univ. of Alaska-Fairbanks; 2nd-Team Smallbore; Honorable Mention Air)
- Tyler Rico (Air Force; First-Team Air)
- Kelsey Emme (Murray State; Second-Team Air)
Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.), a 2012 Olympian and current smallbore rifle National Champion was on-site for USA Shooting providing commentary and an athlete’s perspective. To read her recap of the weekend’s events, click here.
Competitive rifle shooting has been an established NCAA program since 1980 with Tennessee Tech taking the first three NCAA titles in the program’s early beginnings.
Image courtesy USA Shooting