MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – No. 3 West Virginia opened its spring season with a resounding 4,691-4,554 victory against Akron at the WVU Rifle Range.
The Mountaineers (7-0, 4-0 GARC) earned victories in both guns, defeating the Zips 2,367-2,295 in air rifle and 2,324-2,259 in smallbore.
WVU’s combined score was its second-best mark of the season; the Mountaineers previously shot 4,693 in a win against Army. Additionally, WVU’s air rifle mark of 2,367 was a season high, topping its previous best of 2,364, also shot against the Black Knights.
Seniors Justin Pentz and Michael Kulbacki, junior Petra Zublasing and freshman Thomas Kyanko counted toward both gun scores, while freshmen Meelis Kiisk and Taylor Ciotola contributed to the air rifle and smallbore tallies, respectively.
The victory improves WVU’s all-time record against Akron to 10-0.
“This was a good way for the team to get back in to the swing of season,” coach Jon Hammond said. “We had a practice match in the range this week, but it’s always hard to replicate in-match situations. I’m happy with the way this team came out and stayed focused throughout a long day.”
Zublasing won both guns and finished first overall with an 1,186 score. An Appiano, Italy, native, she scored 597 air rifle and 589 smallbore for the victories.
Kyanko and freshman Amy Bock placed second and third, respectively, with combined scores of 1,174 and 1,172; the marks were season highs for both shooters.
Luke Nelson paced the Zips with a combined score of 1,146.
Six Mountaineers finished in the top four in air rifle, with four shooting personal bests. Kyanko finished second behind Zublasing’s first-place effort with a personal-best 594 score. Bock shot 589, also a personal best, and placed third, while Pentz, Ciotola and Kiisk shot 588 and finished in fourth place; the score was a personal best for Ciotola and Kiisk.
“Those four freshmen shot very well in air rifle today,” Hammond said. “I was happy to see them all get back in the range and shoot personal bests.”
Sarah Benjamin paced the Zips in air rifle with a 578 mark.
Bock finished second in smallbore with a score of 583, her third personal-best mark of the day. Kyanko shot 580 and finished in third place, while Ciotola shot 578 and finished fourth.
Nelson shot a team-best 570 for the Zips.
Due to technical difficulties, the match’s first relay was delayed for almost 90 minutes, with action starting and stopping periodically. The delay also impacted the day’s second relay.
“The adversity we faced today could have been a distraction for these two teams, but to the student-athletes’ credit, neither squad got off track or lost its focus,” Hammond said. “I’m especially proud that my team was able to maintain its composure and still shoot strong scores.”