MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team opened its Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) season with a 4709-4671 victory at NC State, today, inside Reynolds Coliseum, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Mountaineers (2-0, 1-0) and the Wolfpack (0-1, 0-1) shot both smallbore and air rifle inside the newly renovated gymnasium, producing an environment that replicated the NCAA Championships.
“We really enjoyed the match,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “It was a great environment to shoot in. It really did feel similar to the NCAA Championships, and it was a great experience for all the shooters.”
WVU, the seven-time reigning GARC champions, picked up the wins in both disciplines, outshooting NCSU 2334-2305 in smallbore and 2375-2366 in air rifle. The squad’s air rifle score is a season high.
Junior Elizabeth Gratz
led the way in smallbore, shooting a career-high 588 (196 kneeling, 199 prone, 193 standing).
“It was a great performance from Elizabeth today. She led the way for everyone,” Hammond noted. “We were steady in smallbore today. It’s always a challenge shooting in a different environment, but we were consistent.”
Lucas Kozeniesky paced the Wolfpack in smallbore and finished fifth overall with a 582 mark.
Thrasher and Babic tied for the win in air rifle, as each shot a season-high 596.
“I think the freshmen were able to shoot much more settled this week,” Hammond said. “Morgan had a great smallbore match, and Milica had a good air rifle match. They are all settling in and can now focus on what they need to do to continue their improvement.”
Gratz placed fifth overall, third on the team, with a season-high 592, and Lucas followed in sixth place with his own season-high score of 591. Additionally, sophomore Will Anti
shot a season-high 588.
“Air rifle was an improvement from our first match, and that’s a positive,” Hammond concluded. “There’s still a lot of improvement to go. You always want to see improvements each week, but we know there’s still a lot of hard work to do in the range.”
Lauren Phillips paced NCSU in air rifle and finished third overall with a 595.
Gratz and Thrasher tied for first overall with matching 1180 aggregate totals.
With the win, WVU improves to 18-0 all-time against NCSU.
The Mountaineers will shoot a pair of matches in Ohio next week, traveling to Akron on Saturday, Oct. 22, and Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 23.