The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team shoots an NCAA Qualifying Match on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10 a.m., at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building.
NC State also will shoot its qualifying match Saturday, but it is not a head-to-head competition. The scores will factor into the teams’ overall standings and qualifying averages for the 2019 NCAA National Championships. The squads will shoot a mock air rifle final following the end of competition.
“Our immediate goal for the weekend is to keep improving our performance and to have a solid match,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “Naturally, we want to make sure we qualify for the NCAA Championships, and we know a good performance will ensure that. We want to stay focused on the task at hand. We’ve had a good week of practice, and we want to continue to build momentum while also seizing lessons to help us get better.”
It’s Senior Day for Will Anti and Ginny Thrasher, and the match is free and open to the public. The Mountaineers also will meet with fans and sign autographs following the air rifle final.
“With this being our Senior Day and final home match before the 2019 NCAA Championships, Saturday provides a great opportunity for our fans to come out and watch us compete,” Hammond added. “We’re looking forward to meeting with our fans after the match, too, and we’re hoping for a large crowd to mimic the crowds we will see in the postseason.
“I also think it’s important for everyone to come out this weekend in support of our seniors, Will and Ginny. They’ve been very influential team members throughout their time at WVU and great leaders. Ginny’s story is well known, and it’s been amazing to have a Gold Medalist in the program. Will has really stepped up and been an amazing leader this season. He’s kept the team together and motivated, creating an environment to succeed. They’ve had a tremendous impact on this program, and while we’re recognizing them this weekend, we’re all aware that their time as Mountaineers is far from finished.”
The top-eight teams and individual competitors selected to compete at the NCAA Championships will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m., at NCAA.com. The 2019 NCAA Championships will be held March 8-9 at the WVU Coliseum, and tickets are on sale now at NCAA.com/tickets.
The Mountaineers’ (13-0, 8-0) last preparation for the 2019 postseason follows WVU’s latest championship moment, as the squad captured its sixth consecutive and 12th overall Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) regular-season title with a 4723-24678 victory at reigning NCAA champion Kentucky on Feb. 9. WVU defeated UK in smallbore (2346-2320) and air rifle (2377-2358), and the Mountaineers’ aggregate and smallbore totals were season highs.
Sophomore David Koenders won smallbore with a career-high matching 588, and Thrasher claimed the air rifle victory with a 597 total.
Junior Milica Babic paces WVU in air rifle and ranks No. 4 nationally with a 594.818 average, while classmate Morgan Phillips ranks No. 2 nationally in smallbore with a 590.333 average.