Alaska-Fairbanks leads the pack; Nebraska's Martin wins individual
The Alaska rifle team takes a 12 shot lead into the second day of the NCAA Rifle Championships after earning the smallbore championship with an impressive team tally of 2,331 on Friday at the E.F. Horton Rifle Range.
In addition to the team success, Ryan Anderson earned a second-place finish in the individual finals while Tim Sherry, the reigning champion, finished in fifth place.
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Also shooting for the first place Nanooks were Sagen Maddalena, Lorelie Stanfield and Mats Eriksson. Maddalena and Stanfield each shot a 580, as they just missed out on the finals, while Eriksson rounded out the team with a 576.
West Virginia sits in second place with a total team score of 2,319. The Mountaineers had three representatives in the finals through Ziva Dvorsak (583), Garrett Spurgeon (583) and Michael Bamsey (581).
In third position was the Nebraska, led by eventual individual champion Rachel Martin, who shot a 584. The Cornhuskers totaled 2,311, six shots in front of fourth-place Texas Christian University's 2,305.
Jacksonville State finished the day in fifth place with a score of 2,302 while Kentucky (2,298), Murray State (2,296) and Air Force (2,282) rounded out the team standings.
Said head coach Dan Jordan after the first day, "We have one of the strongest smallbore teams in the nation, but nothing is given going forward. Some of the team's here are the best air rifle teams in the country. We've been shooting very well and we are confident that we can build off today's success."
Should Alaska win the air rifle portion of the finals, or not relinquish its 12 shot lead, it will earn its 11th NCAA Championship and its fourth of the decade. To do so, according to Jordan, the Nanooks must not over-complicate things and simply shoot to their abilities.
"If we shoot the way we have been all year long, we'll get to where we want to be at," he said. "We don't need to go out and try and shoot personal bests or rack up major points with every shot; it's all about just doing what we should."
During the individual finals the crowd helped push Alaska to a pair of top-five finishes, including back-to-back medalists in consecutive years. Last season, Sherry was the individual championship in the smallbore event and he followed up that triumph with a fifth-place showing this season. The crowd then helped rally Anderson, who climbed his way up the standings to eventually place second behind Nebraska's Martin.
"Shooting on our home range has been a huge drive and an emphasis of focus all year," commented Jordan. "It adds a lot of confidence knowing that the people in the stands are here to support us. We talk about it all the time, to use the crowd as a positive factor. The fans care about what we do and they are here to support us, and we look to use that in a positive way, it drives us."