MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Being recruited by one of the top rifle teams in the nation and settling into college life may be intimidating to some, but it wasn’t for West Virginia freshman Garrett Spurgeon.
Spurgeon, the two-time Junior Olympic medal winner and two-time Missouri air rifle state champion has found it quite easy to settle into the lifestyle of a college student-athlete, even as a civil engineering major.
“It is awesome to know that I can come right into school, and even with all of my school work, I can still focus in the range and get the job done, week-in week-out,” Spurgeon said. “College is a lot different than high school, but this semester hasn’t been terribly difficult, so I think it’s been pretty natural so far.”
Competing on the collegiate level while managing schoolwork can present incredible pressure.
“Everyone is going to have bad days. I know I am going to have mine, so it’s just a matter of when they happen, and I’m not afraid of having a bad day. I don’t feel any pressure,” Spurgeon said.
“So far he has been doing incredibly well,” coach Jon Hammond said. “He was one of the top recruits coming in, so we definitely had high expectations for him, but I think he has all of the attributes to be really successful. He obviously has a lot of talent, he is smart, he works really hard, he is motivated and he is very dedicated. He has all of those other attributes, and he is competitive, but Garrett [Spurgeon] is a freshman on the team this year, so there is a lot of learning and getting settled in to do.”
One thing Spurgeon had to get used to was shooting and competing as part of the team, especially as a part of one of the top teams in the nation.
“I never shot on a team before I got here,” Spurgeon said. “So it is a new experience shooting on a team and against other teams. I like it a lot more than competing as an individual. The competition is a lot more intense.”
With his previous experience competing at the Junior Olympics, Spurgeon was prepared and ready to compete and win with the Mountaineers. He has counted toward the team’s total score in every match this season.
“Definitely the competition at the Junior Olympics has prepared me mentally for the competition and school, and winning before has prepared me to win,” Spurgeon said. “I know how to get there and how to do it.”
“He doesn’t like to lose, and I think that is what drives him to train and get better,” Hammond said. “I think this semester has been a really big growing process. So far I think he has been doing very well, and he definitely has a really bright future in the sport.”
Spurgeon has met the high expectations set by his coach in his first season at WVU. In almost every match during the fall, he shot or matched a personal-best.
“To be on top is, well, I don’t think there is any better feeling than being on top,” Spurgeon said. “It’s just fun, you know. When you come into practice there is a little extra excitement in the range, especially when everyone is here practicing at the same time, and we are all talking to each other and joking with each other and trying to compete with each other in practice.”
During the fall season, Spurgeon contributed to the team’s total score in each match, as well as its NCAA record-setting performance against Ole Miss (4720). He shot a personal-best 592 air rifle score, as well as shot a personal-best smallbore score of 589 three times.
The team finished the fall season ranked No. 1 with a 9-0 record and 4-0 mark in the Great American Rifle Conference.
“I know he has a lot of goals, and hopefully we can do our best here as a staff, a team and a university to succeed in as many of those goals as possible,” Hammond said.
Spurgeon hopes to earn All-America status and win a national championship with his team during his career at West Virginia, and there is a promising future ahead for him. The opportunities are endless, especially with the start his career has had.