March 12th, 2017

WVU Mountaineers Win Fifth Straight NCAA Rifle Championship

2017 NCAA Rifle Championships WVU West Virginia Mountaineers
Photo by Lapua’s Adam Braverman. Lapua match ammo was used by many competitors.

The NCAA Rifle Championship was held at Ohio State University March 10-11, 2017. The team National Championship went to the powerful West Virginia University squad. The No. 2-ranked WVU Mountaineers rifle team claimed its fifth straight NCAA title in commanding fashion, shooting a championship-record 4723 Aggregate score at Ohio State’s French Field House. This was the Mountaineers’ nineteenth national championship, a remarkable record of excellence.

2017 NCAA Rifle Championships WVU West Virginia Mountaineers

WVU shooters also secured top honors — the individual titles were both won by West Virginia freshman. Morgan Phillips won the small-bore titles on March 10, 2017. Milica Babic won the air rifle championship the next day.

2017 NCAA Rifle Championships WVU West Virginia Mountaineers

The Mountaineers’ NCAA championship five-peat is the third in the sport since 1980. WVU previously won six straight titles from 1988-1993, and Alaska-Fairbanks won six straight from 1999-2004.

NCAA Rifle Championship Rules

The NRA Blog has listed some of the more important rules in effect for the NCAA Rifle Championship.

2017 NCAA Rifle Championships WVU West Virginia Mountaineers

Modern Electronic Targets
The 2017 NCAA Championships used electronic targets, with monitors at each shooting station. That allows spectators to view the scoring in real time. For air rifle, shot at 10 meters, and smallbore, shot at 50 feet, all NCAA competitions using electronic scoring targets shall comply with USA Shooting Rule 6.3.2 and be at least ISSF Phase I approved.

Max Rifle Weight is 8kg (17.64 lbs)
The maximum weight for a complete smallbore rifle cannot exceed 8 kilograms. Previously, a maximum weight of 6.5 kilograms was imposed for female shooters, but as of this season, both men and women can use up to an 8 kg rifle. [Editor: That’s actually a pretty heavy rifle to hold off-hand in the standing stages — it approaches the weight of an F-TR rifle.]

Single Shot Only
NCAA shooters aren’t worried about magazine capacity. Only single shot rifles that must be manually loaded before each shot are permitted in competition. Additionally, only one rifle can be used in the Elimination, Qualification and Finals rounds of an event. The action, barrel and stock cannot be changed, but the shooter can swap detachable buttstocks or accessories (subject to 8kg weight limit).

2017 NCAA Rifle Championships WVU West Virginia Mountaineers

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June 28th, 2016

Olympics-Bound Ginny Thrasher Wins National Air Rifle Title

Virginia “Ginny” Thrasher, who will compete in the Rio Olympics this summer, showed continued dominance of her sport by winning the women’s national Air Rifle title last week at Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the USAMU. Mindy has been on fire in recent months. In April she won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Smallbore Rifle, securing a spot at the Rio Olympics. Prior to that, Ginny won individual NCAA titles in both air rifle and smallbore — as a freshman! This girl is a genuine phenom…

Thrasher, a member of the West Virginia University Mountaineers, has been on a tear of late. After winning the the Olympic Trials in Three-Position Rifle in April, she then earned two finals appearances at the Munich World Cup in May. Prior to that, Ginny’s sharpshooting earned her individual NCAA titles in air rifle and smallbore. With those performances, the talented freshman led West Virginia University to the collegiate team title and was named Top Performer of the 2016 NCAA Shooting Championship.

Her WVU coach, Jon Hammond, said Ginny has had an amazing run to Rio: “It’s an unbelievable freshman year to win NCAA championships and qualify for the Olympics. I would hazard she’s probably going to be one of the youngest members of the U.S. shooting team at the Olympics.”

Thrasher earned her way onto the national team with a stellar performance at the 2015 U.S. championships, where she won five medals, three in junior competition and two in open competition. That performance propelled her into her freshman season at West Virginia University.

This year’s USA Shooting National Championships includes more than 300 athletes vying for National Team selections and the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Other shooters attending this year’s Nationals are looking ahead to the next Olympic Games — Tokyo 2020.

Mindy Miles (Weatherford, Texas) finished second at Nationals behind Thrasher in the women’s Air Rifle Event. Thrasher’s Team USA teammate at the Rio Olympics, Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts), won the Final to finish third overall.

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March 16th, 2015

West Virginia Wins Third Straight NCAA Rifle Championship

NCAA Rifle Championship West Virginia 2015 Air

It was an impressive “three-peat” for The West Virginia University (WVU) rifle team. The WVU Mountaineers clinched their third straight NCAA Rifle Championship this weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska. Remarkably, this victory was the West Virginia’s 17th NCAA Rifle Championship — and it was a great team performance. WVU’s 4702 team aggregate score is the second-best in NCAA Championships history. And if you are curious, this Mountaineers squad also holds the best-ever team score, a 4705 shot by WVU at the 2014 NCAA Championships.

“It was an amazing performance today,” said coach Jon Hammond. “Winning three titles back to back is unreal. We have stressed with them all year to focus on performance and not outcome. They did that today. No one did anything wrong yesterday, but they performed the right way today. All five of them shot incredible. We really tried to not think about point difference or score. That’s the nature of the sport. You can’t control the other teams.”

Top Air Rifle Performances
The Mountaineers shot a 2383 air rifle team score, the second highest in team and NCAA history, and also took home the top three places in the individual final. WVU’s Maren Prediger, who placed second in last year’s NCAA final, won the individual air rifle title, leading her squad to the team victory in the process. In the first relay Maren was on fire, shooting a near-perfect 598 (100-100-99-100-100-99) score. The Petersaurach, Germany, native scored 205.8 in the final, earning the 2015 air rifle individual title. This was Maren’s last match as a Mountaineer.

Maren Prediger NCAA Rifle Championship West Virginia 2015 Air

“For Maren to shoot a 598 air rifle in her last match is incredible,” Hammond said. “I can’t fault her on anything this weekend. It says a lot about her character to come back today and win. She’s a world-class air rifle shooter. For her to win the final after being so close last year is a huge credit to her. To do it during her final match is even better.”

NCAA Rifle Championship West Virginia 2015 Air
Air Rifle Shooters at Alaska-Fairbanks’ Patty Center. (WVU Photo by Jason Colquhoun)

Overall Team Results
1. West Virginia: 4702
2. Alaska Fairbanks: 4700
3. TCU: 4667
4. Nebraska: 4667
5. Jacksonville State: 4664
6. Kentucky: 4657
7. Air Force: 4642
8. Murray State: 4637
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March 10th, 2013

West Virginia University Wins 2013 NCAA Rifle Championships

WVU wins 15th NCAA National Rifle Championship

Story based on report by By Kyle Jillson for NRABlog.com
West Virginia University (WVU) won its 15th NCAA Rifle Title this past weekend. The WVU Montaineers, the winningest team in NCAA Rifle competition history, finished with a final score of 4679 out of 4800 (combined air rifle and smallbore scores). The Mountaineers overcame a one-shot smallbore deficit and outshot the field in air rifle, scoring 2363. The WVU Mountaineers’ 4679 final point total is the second-highest in NCAA Rifle Championship history, bettered only by Kentucky’s 4,700 in 2011. Kentucky, always near the top, finish second this year with a 4670 score, while defending champ TCU took third with an aggregate score of 4,664.

WVU’s Petra Zublasing Wins both Smallbore and Air Rifle Titles
On a rifle team with many skilled shooters, WV’s Petra Zublasing proved to be the “best of the best”. At the 2013 Championships, Zublasing dominated the competition, winning both the Smallbore and Air Rifle individual events. Hailing from Appiano, Italy, Zublasing won the Mountaineers’ first Individual Smallbore Rifle Championship since 1997. After winning the smallbore event in a close match, in the air rifle competition she shot a 598 (99-100-100-100-100-99) — two points shy of a perfect score. That remarkable performance gave Petra the win, completing Zublasing’s sweep of the 2013 individual championships. Zublasing is the first shooter to win both NCAA titles at one championship since Alaska-Fairbanks’ Matthew Emmons took the victories in 2001. “Winning an individual title in both guns is just great, but I’m most happy that the team won,” says Zublasing.

WVU wins 15th NCAA National Rifle Championship

Over the summer Zublasing shot for Italy in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. It was an eye opening experience she explained: “After the Olympics, I realized I actually like shooting. I don’t do this because I have to or because I’m good at it. I actually enjoy it and try to help everyone else realize they should just have fun.”

Watch Interview with Petra Zublasing

National Championship Celebration at WVU Coliseum on Monday, March 11th
West Virginia University fans are invited to attend a celebration for the national-champion rifle team Monday, March 11, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm in the Jerry West Lounge at the WVU Coliseum. Mountaineers Shooting Team members and team coach Jon Hammond will be available to greet fans and pose for photos. Fans can also take pictures with the team’s 15th NCAA Rifle Championships trophy.

WVU wins 15th NCAA National Rifle Championship

West Virginia Squad Features Shooters from Many Nations
WVU Coach Jon Hammond, a Scot who still competes with Great Britain’s national team, has built the nation’s top shooting program by recruiting top young shooters from around the world. (Hammon himself shot for WVU during the 2002-2003 season.) The Mountaineer’s squad features talented shooters from both sides of the Atlantic. 2013 National Air Rifle and Smallbore champion Petra Zublasing is from Appiano, Italy. Sophomore Meelis Kiisk is from Paide, Estonia. Sophomore Maren Prediger is from Petersaurach, Germany. Freshman Garrett Spurgeon is from Canton, Missouri, Sophomore Taylor Ciotala is from Pasadena, Maryland, and Sophomore Thomas Kyanko, is from Wellsburg, West Virginia.

In leading her team to victory in 2013, Zublasing followed in the footsteps of another great foreign-born shooter, WVU All-American and Italian native Nicco Campriani. This talented young man, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 3-P 50-meter event, literally re-wrote the record-books during his two collegiate seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) with West Virginia.

“Nicco changed the level of shooting in U.S. [Collegiate rifle competition],” Hammond said. “He came over here and started shooting world-record scores — 590 and 600 in air rifle, which really hadn’t been done before. That raised the bar for us.”

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