MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 2-ranked West Virginia University rifle team won its fourth straight Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) regular-season title with a 4718-4675 win at No. 6 Kentucky, today, inside Buell Armory.
The Mountaineers (11-0, 8-0 GARC) secured their conference-best 10th regular-season crown with wins over the Wildcats (7-3, 6-1 GARC) in both disciplines, outshooting UK 2336-2319 in smallbore and 2382-2356 in air rifle.
“The team definitely had a really good performance today, especially in air rifle,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “It’s always a challenge shooting in a new range, and it was really hot today, but they worked hard and were mentally tough.”
Junior Elizabeth Gratz
played a large role in the team’s air gun success, shooting an NCAA record 600 (100-100-100-100-100-100). The Sigel, Illinois, native is the first collegiate shooter to attain the score this season and only the third Mountaineer in program history to hit the perfect mark. Olympic Gold Medalist Nicco Campriani shot 600 air rifle twice in the 2010-11 season, and three-time NCAA champion Petra Zublasing shot the score once in the 2011-12 season.
“It was fantastic to see Elizabeth shoot a 600,” Hammond added. “She has worked really hard this year, especially on the mental side of the sport and how to focus on the things that are most important. It’s always great to see an athlete reap the rewards from hard work. Today was an excellent match, and shooting an NCAA record and perfect 600 is a wonderful accomplishment.”
Thrasher paced the Mountaineers in smallbore with a 592 (197 kneeling, 200 prone, 195 standing) total. Phillips finished second with a 583 mark, and Lucas placed third with a 582 score. Babic and Gratz shot 579 and tied for sixth place. Additionally, Anti tallied a 569 total, and Anderson shot 542.
Of note, Thrasher and Lucas shot school-record 200 prone marks.
Five Mountaineers counted toward the team totals: Babic, Gratz, Lucas, Phillips and Thrasher.
With the win, WVU improves to 17-9 all-time against the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers return to Buell Armory tomorrow morning for their regular-season finale against No. 3 Murray State.
“It’s always hard to maintain focus over multiple days,” Hammond said. “We’ll relax this evening, and tomorrow the team will have to be mentally tough again. They will need to stick to their match plan and focus on what they can control.”
The shoulder-to-shoulder match is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.