MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 2-ranked West Virginia University rifle team capped its 2016-17 regular season with its top performance of the year, shooting a season best in a 4726-4713 victory over No. 3 Murray State inside Buell Armory, in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Mountaineers’ win gives them a perfect 12-0 record, the program’s second straight undefeated season and the team’s third unblemished season in four years. Conversely, WVU handed the Racers (22-1) their first defeat of the season.
WVU’s (12-0, 8-0 GARC) aggregate score tops its previous season high of 4725, shot in a win against Navy on Jan. 20. The Mountaineers’ total is the second-highest score earned nationally this year.
“This was a nice end to the regular season, but more importantly, it was a really good weekend with solid team and individual performances,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “The team not only worked really well together, but they had great performances, too.”
Though competition was tight, the Mountaineers edged the Racers in both disciplines, winning smallbore, 2345-2340, and air rifle, 2381-2373.
“As a whole, I think we had a very solid smallbore showing,” Hammond noted. “I think everyone did an even better job with their focus today, and that could be attributed to the comfort of shooting in the same range. We were able to make some adjustments.”
Just one day after Gratz shot an NCAA record 600 air rifle, Babic nearly equaled her achievement, shooting a career-best 599 (99-100-100-100-100-100) and earning the discipline win.
Gratz finished second today with a 598 mark, and Thrasher followed in fourth place with 596 total. Phillips shot 588 and placed seventh, while Lucas totaled 586 and finished in 10th place. Anti and Anderson chipped in scores of 586 and 585, respectively.
“Air rifle was again very solid,” Hammond concluded. “Milica and Elizabeth had excellent matches. It was great to see Milica shoot a personal best, especially with shooting a nine on her first shot. Elizabeth followed an excellent air rifle match with another great day. It can be hard to refocus, but she did really well today.”
Five Mountaineers counted toward the team totals today: Babic, Gratz, Lucas, Phillips and Thrasher.
With the win, WVU improves to 22-3 all-time against the Racers.
The Mountaineers return to the WVU Rifle Range next weekend for one final contest in Morgantown. The team will shoot an NCAA Qualifying match on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 8 a.m.