W.Va.'s Zublasing captures smallbore title; TCU leads tight field after Day 1
COLUMBUS, OHIO -- West Virginia senior Petra Zublasing shot 688.3 and won the 2013 NCAA smallbore title on Friday at the NCAA NC Rifle Championships at Ohio State’s Converse Hall.
WVU shot 2,316 smallbore and sits tied for second place after the team competition.
The Mountaineers (11-1, 5-1 GARC) are only one shot short of first place, as TCU won smallbore with a 2,317 score. WVU is tied with Alaska-Fairbanks, though the Nanooks are ahead of the Mountaineers in the standings due to a 114-104 center-shot advantage. Kentucky sits in fourth with a 2,315 score.
Only nine shots separate the top six teams after the smallbore competition. Air Force is in fifth place with a 2,311 score, and Army is in sixth place with a 2,308 total. Nebraska is seventh (2,297), while Jacksonville State is eighth (2,281).
“Our score isn’t what we wanted, but we’re right in the thick of things after Day 1, and that’s where everyone wants to be at this championship,” WVU coach Jon Hammond said. “It’s a relief to know that [Saturday] is a new day and we can start again, but I have no idea what to expect. I think we just have to focus on ourselves again and shoot the best match we can. It’s probably going to be a bit of a grind, but we need to be self-focused. We’re confident in air gun, but all of the teams are tight. [Saturday's] competition is what the NCAA championships is all about.”
Zublasing, an Appiano, Italy, native, captured her second national title in as many seasons, as she is the defending NCAA air rifle champion. She is the first shooter to win an NCAA title in both disciplines since Alaska-Fairbanks’ Jamie Beyerle won the air rifle title in 2003 and the smallbore title in 2006. Zublasing became the first Mountaineer in program history to do so.
Zublasing became the first Mountaineer to claim the smallbore title since Marco Scrivner won the championship in 1997.
“It feels weird to win,” Zublasing said. “My last five shots in the final weren’t so good, but I did better than everyone else, and that’s all that matters. I didn’t expect this; I just wanted to shoot well. I couldn’t control what everyone else shot. Everyone struggled a little bit, so it made for a close competition in the final, which was nice. I did my best. There’s only one shot I could have changed.
“To have a title in both disciplines is so cool. I’m most excited for my parents -- they can now say their daughter won two NCAA championships.”
“[Friday] was a fantastic result for Petra [Zublasing],” Hammond said. “I think we’re all delighted to see her win a title, especially after winning air rifle last year. She battled all day -- she didn’t shoot her best match, but she shot a great final. It was exciting to watch. I think her win was a positive way for the team to finish, and I think it will give us all extra momentum going into [Saturday]. Petra's win may be the edge we need.”
Zublasing entered the final in second place. Though she was tied with UK’s Henri Junghanel with a 589 (197 prone, 194 standing, 198 kneeling) relay mark, Junghanel owned the edge moving into the final with a 36-35 center-shot advantage. Zublasing took the title with a 99.3 total in the 10-shot final. Junghanel finished second with a 687.8 score, shooting 98.8 in the final, while TCU’s Sarah Scherer placed third with a 686.7 score (588, 98.7).
Zublasing’s win marked her second smallbore victory in three weeks, as the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Shooter and Senior of the Year also won the conference smallbore title on Feb. 23 with a school-record 595 score.
WVU was the only team to place two shooters in the eight-person final, and sophomore Thomas Kyanko, an individual qualifier for Friday's championship, placed seventh with a 675.9 score (580, 95.9). He entered the final in seventh place after shooting 580 (197 prone, 189 standing, 194 kneeling) in the day’s first relay.
“I’m really pleased for Thomas,” Hammond said. “He had different conditions to shoot under, but he shot a solid match early in the morning, and the final experience he gained Friday is great. I know he should be pleased, and I’m excited that he ended his season on a solid note.”
Though WVU’s smallbore score puts the Mountaineers in a great position for a strong finish Saturday, it was the team’s lowest point total of the season. The Mountaineers previously shot a season-low 2,324 against Nebraska at the WVU Rifle Range on Jan. 19.
“It was a tough day for the team, and some of them really struggled,” Hammond said. “The championships is a hard match to shoot -– so much rides on one day. I’m proud of everyone for fighting, and I think they all shot their best under these conditions.”
Sophomore Maren Prediger and freshman Garrett Spurgeon each shot 576 in the second relay, good enough for 16th place. Prediger’s mark was a season high.
Sophomore Meelis Kiisk opened the team’s day with a 575 score in the first relay, while classmate Taylor Ciotola shot 569 in the day’s final relay.
The championships will conclude Saturday with air rifle. First shot from OSU’s French Field House is scheduled for 8 a.m., with individual finals set for 1:45 p.m.