No. 1 WVU Opens Season with Win

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • October 02, 2016 09:04 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team opened its 2016-17 season with a 4714-4674 victory over No. 5 Ohio State this afternoon.
The teams competed in a unique setting today, shooting smallbore at the WVU Rifle Range and air rifle on the indoor track inside the WVU Shell Building in front of more than 150 fans. The Mountaineers (1-0) won both disciplines, shooting 2348 smallbore and 2366 air rifle. The Buckeyes (1-1) finished with marks of 2312 in smallbore and 2362 in air rifle.
“I think today was a good way to open the season, especially shooting air rifle on the indoor track,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “Our four returners showed a lot of experience today and shot really strong smallbore scores, which gave us a good morning result.
“Shooting air rifle on a different range was certainly a challenge, but it was a great experience for us to get that practice in a different environment. We had a good fan turnout, too, and overall I think today was a great event.”
Sophomore Olympic Gold medalist Ginny Thrasher opened her second collegiate season in winning fashion, shooting a match-high 595 (98-98-100-100-100-99) air rifle and a career- and match-best 594 (195 kneeling, 200 prone, 199 standing) smallbore. Included in the Springfield, Virginia, native’s day was a school-record 199 standing. The previous school record of 198 was set by All-American Petra Zublasing at the 2013 Great American Rifle Conference Championship in Oxford, Mississippi, on Feb. 23, 2013. Thrasher also shot a school-record 200 prone.
“Ginny had to take a mental break from the summer and her time in Rio,” Hammond said. “From a routine standpoint, there are parts of her shooting that she needs to get back, but she had a good performance today, especially managing the match. She’s become a much more experienced shooter over the last 12 months. Ginny probably didn’t feel like she was ready to shoot a personal best, but it was a great performance and match management.”
Senior Jean-Pierre Lucas finished second in smallbore with a 588 mark, and OSU’s Michael Steinel shot 584 and finished third. Mountaineer junior Elizabeth Gratz and sophomore Will Anti tied for fourth place with 583s.
OSU’s Jacob Buchanan finished second behind Thrasher in air rifle with a 593 mark. Gratz and Buckeye Rhiann Travis tied for third place with 592s, while Steinel placed fifth with a 591. Additionally, in her Mountaineer debut, freshman Milica Babic shot 590 and tied OSU’s Drew Cheezum for sixth place.
Thrasher (594 SB, 595 AR), Lucas (588 SB, 589 AR), Gratz (583 SB, 592 AR), Anti (583 SB, 586 AR) and Babic (578 SB, 590 AR) combined for the Mountaineers’ discipline totals.
Freshmen Jack Anderson (567 SB, 584 AR) and Morgan Phillips (570 SB, 581 AR) also made their Mountaineer debuts today.
“It’s always a challenge to shoot your first collegiate match, and I’m really proud of how our three newcomers competed, stuck to their tasks and fought all the way through the match,” Hammond noted. “I think today was a good learning experience for them.”
Of note, the teams participated in an exhibition individual air rifle final today, with the top-four shooters from each squad shooting in the knockout competition. The final came down to Babic and Thrasher, and the rookie from Belgrade, Serbia, emerged victorious.
The Mountaineers next compete at No. 9 NC State on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m. 


NCAA, WVU, rifle