The Times West Virginian

March 16, 2014

WVU rifle team repeats as national champions


Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team secured its nation-best 16th NCAA Championship Saturday with a 4705 score at the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships at Murray State’s CFSB Center in Murray, Ky.

The title win is the second straight for the Mountaineers and third under eighth-year coach Jon Hammond. WVU’s first title under Hammond came in 2009. The rifle team is the only WVU program to win an NCAA Championship.

“It’s awesome. It was a great, great season and a perfect way to finish,”said Hammond. “Just to go undefeated is really difficult, but this was the perfect way to finish the season.”

 The Mountaineers’ combined score is an NCAA Championships record, trumping the previous record of 4700, shot by Kentucky in 2011. WVU is the first team to win consecutive NCAA titles since Alaska-Fairbanks won three straight from 2006-08. The Mountaineers last won back-to-back championships with four straight victories from 1995-98.

 No. 3 Alaska-Fairbanks totaled 4677 and finished second, while No. 2 Kentucky shot 4675 and placed third. No. 6 Memphis finished fourth (4669), and No. 4 Nebraska placed fifth (4660).

 WVU breezed to victory on the strength of its winning 2367 air rifle score. The NCAA air rifle title also is the second straight for the Mountaineers.

 Five Mountaineers shot for the team score, with juniors Maren Prediger (596), Ziva Dvorsak (594) and Thomas Kyanko (586), and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon (591) counting toward the final tally. Junior Meelis Kiisk shot 582.

 Prediger, Dvorsak and Spurgeon all advanced to the air rifle final, the second final in as many days for Dvorsak and Spurgeon. Prediger, a Petersaurach, Germany, native, entered the final with the championships’ best relay score and finished as the national runner-up with a 205.0 mark. Kentucky’s Connor Davis edged out Prediger with a 205.4 mark.

 Dvorsak, a Ljubljana, Slovenia, native, finished third with a 185.1 mark; she placed seventh in smallbore yesterday. Additionally, Spurgeon, a Canton, Mo., native, shot 143.5 in the final and placed fifth; he finished second in smallbore Friday.

 The Mountaineers entered Saturday’s air rifle competition with a 17-shot lead, having secured the smallbore title Friday with a 2338 score. That title was the first-ever under Hammond.

 WVU, the five-time reigning Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) champions, finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 10-0 overall record and a 7-0 conference mark.

 National Rifle Association (NRA) and College Rifle Coaches’ Association (CRCA) All-America honors will be awarded later this weekend.

 West Virginia University fans are invited to attend a celebration for the 2014 national-champion rifle team Monday, March 17, from 5:30 – 7 p.m., in the Jerry West Lounge at the WVU Coliseum.

 The Mountaineers (10-0, 7-0 GARC) and coach Jon Hammond will be available to greet fans and take pictures. Fans also will have the opportunity to take pictures with the team.