No. 1-ranked West Virginia secured its nation-best 16th NCAA championship Saturday with a 4,705 score at the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships, at Murray State’s CFSB Center, in Murray, Ky.
The title win is the second in a row for the Mountaineers and third under eight-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.The Mountaineers’ combined score is an NCAA record, trumping the previous record of 4,700, shot by Kentucky in 2011. WVU is the first team to win consecutive NCAA titles since Alaska-Fairbanks won three in a row from 2006-08. The Mountaineers last won back-to-back championships with four consecutive victories from 1995-98.
No. 3 Alaska-Fairbanks totaled 4,677 and finished second, while No. 2 Kentucky shot 4,675 and placed third. No. 6 Memphis finished fourth (4,669), and No. 4 Nebraska placed fifth (4,660).
WVU breezed to victory on the strength of its winning 2,367 air rifle score, shot Saturday morning. The NCAA air rifle title also is the second in a row 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 205.4.
Dvorsak, a Ljubljana, Slovenia, native, finished third with a 185.1 mark; she placed seventh in smallbore Friday. 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 2,338 score. That title was the first 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.