MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck announced today the 2013-14 rifle schedule, which features seven home matches and two of the NCAA’s top-four teams.
“Coach Jon Hammond has again put together a competitive and challenging schedule for the National Champion rifle team,” Luck says. “I am excited to follow the Mountaineers as they work toward defending their nation-best 15th NCAA title.”
“We want to shoot against as many of the top teams as possible each season,” says eighth-year coach Hammond. “There are good challenges scattered throughout this schedule and a lot of interesting away matches, too. I’m confident we will prepare ourselves for another great spring run this year.”
The Mountaineers will open their season at the WVU Rifle Range for the first time in three years, as they play host to Ohio State on Oct. 5. The squad will then open its Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) schedule with a match at Nebraska, the seventh-place team at the 2013 NCAA Championships, on Oct. 13.
The team will return to the WVU Rifle Range for three straight home competitions, including shoulder-to-shoulder matches against GARC opponents Army and Mississippi, before closing out its fall schedule at Navy on Nov. 16.
Following a two-month winter break, the Mountaineers will welcome NC State to the WVU Rifle Range on Jan. 19, before traveling to the Winthrow Invitational, in Murray, Ky., on Jan. 25, and Memphis on Jan. 26.
The Mountaineers close out their regular-season schedule against Alaska-Fairbanks (Feb. 6) and Kentucky (Feb. 8) at the WVU Rifle Range.
“Competing against these two teams late in the regular-season will give us a good challenge heading into postseason,” Hammond says. “Alaska will be better this year, and I expect them to push the top teams. That weekend is going to be a good test.”
WVU defeated UAF twice last season, in Fairbanks, Alaska, winning 4719-4670 and 4716-4651. The Wildcats got the better of WVU in the regular season, winning 4704-4695, at Baker Hall, in Lexington, Ky.; that victory gave UK the GARC regular-season title, its third straight. The Mountaineers successfully avenged the loss with a 4705, first-place finish at the GARC Championships on Feb. 24, in Oxford, Miss., their fourth consecutive conference championship. UK finished second at the 2013 NCAA Championships, and UAF placed fourth.
After shooting in an NCAA Qualifying Match at Murray State’s Pat Spurgin Rifle Range on Feb. 22, the Mountaineers will take aim on their fifth straight GARC title at the conference championships, March 1-2, at Mississippi’s Patricia C. Lamar National Guard and Readiness Center, in Oxford, Miss. WVU owns seven GARC titles and is the only team to win four straight.
The Mountaineers will return to Murray State, March 14-15, for the NCAA Championships. Despite the loss of three-time national champion Petra Zublasing, five shooters with national championship experience return for WVU: juniors Taylor Ciotola
, Meelis Kiisk
, Thomas Kyanko
and Maren Prediger
, and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon
. All five earned National Rifle Association (NRA) All-America honors last season, and Ciotola and Prediger collected first-team honors. Also back for the Mountaineers are seniors Chance Cover
and Daniel Sojka
, and sophomore Patrick Sunderman
; Sojka and Sunderman earned NRA All-America awards last year.
“To have that type of experience coming back is going to be huge for us this season,” explains Hammond. “Petra is irreplaceable, so we’re going to have to improve as a team. No one person can fill her shoes, but if they all work hard and make small improvements, we can continue to progress as a team. This year’s success is going to be based on team effort. I’m looking forward to everyone stepping up and taking charge.”
WVU went 11-1 last season en route to winning its 15th national championship. In addition to winning the GARC and NCAA titles, the Mountaineers set the NCAA team (4720) and air rifle (2381) records. The squad also set a school smallbore (2348) record.
You can find a link for the complete schedule HERE