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West Virginia rifle heads into spring after dominant fall season

The West Virginia rifle team finished their fall season in the top three of the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association Poll after grabbing the No. 3 spot. The final ranking of the rifle season marked a 9-0 undefeated record for the fall and the Mountaineers got the spring off to a strong start, setting a record in their first meet.

Some of the other top victories for West Virginia during the fall season was beating then-No. 4 TCU on Nov. 6, 4724-4723 as well as a win over then-No. 6 Memphis in Morgantown on Oct. 10, 4718-4622. The triumph over the Horned Frogs of TCU in November was by a narrow margin of one point after Mountaineer sophomore Molly McGhin led all shooters with an 1189 aggregate score for the final, 4724-4723.

The largest margin victory for the West Virginia rifle team on the season was their 96-point win over then -No. 6 Memphis. The stomping of Memphis saw West Virginia collect their third top-10 win of the season while sweeping both sections including the smallbore, 2,341-2,279 and the air rifle, 2,377-2,343.

“There were lots of really positive things from this semester, but we have to keep working hard to improve. There are some other excellent teams this year, and we’ll have to keep improving and learning from now until the spring semester,” said West Virginia head coach Jon Hammond.

The Mountaineers perhaps couldn’t have begun their season more dominant while taking down then-No. 2 Ole Miss by a total of 50 aggregate points, 4,733-4,683. The day saw the top six spots on the leaderboard cluttered with Mountaineers while Sophomore Tal Engler lead all three sections of the meet finishing with a total aggregate of 1,118 points while shooting 598 points in air rifle as well as a smallbore mark of 591 points.

An impressive feat in itself is beating any military school at rifle shooting which is exactly what Hammond’s squad did against then-No. 12 Army in November, shooting better two days in a row for a weekend sweep. The first day of the pair of meeting days had nine Mountaineers land inside the top-10 while the second day of the meet had seven Mountaineers inside the final top-10.

McGhin has been quite a standout on this year’s West Virginia rifle team tying a program record for air rifle shooting against then-No.  TCU by shooting 600 in the relay. The shooter in McGhin is the sixth Mountaineer to ever accomplish the mark after Ginny Thrasher went up against Army on Nov. 5, 2017. McGhin was also named student athlete of the week that same week in early November after her perfect shooting in the air rifle.

“She (Molly) has worked extremely hard to get to where she is currently,” said Hammond. “Her hard work has definitely paid off, and in all, she continually sets a really good example for the team.”

The other top pair of shooters for the Mountaineers in the fall included Tokushima, Japan native junior Akihito Shimizu and Tzur Yigal, Israel native sophomore Tal Engler. Shimizu was able to shoot a total aggregate average of 1,180.142 points while Engler’s aggregate average score was 1,180 points. Shimizu led in air rifle average between the two with a 595.571 air rifle average meanwhile Engler held the better smallbore average of 585.429 points.

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