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WVU Competes for NCAA Title

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 11, 2021) – With its nation’s-best 20th title on the line, the No. 4-ranked West Virginia University rifle team is set to compete at the 2021 NCAA Rifle Championships, March 12-13, at the French Field House, in Columbus, Ohio.
 
On Friday, the first smallbore relay will begin at 8:15 a.m. ET. and the second relay will follow at 12:30 p.m. ET. A smallbore final featuring the top-eight athletes will begin at 4:15 p.m. ET.
 
The air rifle competition will start on Saturday at 8:15 a.m. ET., with the second relay scheduled for noon ET. An eight-athlete final will begin at 3:15 p.m. ET.
 
Five Mountaineers will compete this weekend with one alternate: Junior Jared Eddy, sophomores Calista Smoyer and Akihito Shimizu and freshmen Tal Engler and Molly McGhin. Junior Verna Zaisberger will act as an alternate.

This weekend’s championship is the first time since 2017 that the NCAA final will be hosted by the Ohio State University. The Mountaineers (7-1, 5-1 GARC), winners of five of the last seven NCAA Championships, own 19 national crowns.  

The qualification is the 14th straight for the Mountaineers. WVU owns a nation-best 19 national titles and has won six under 14-year coach Jon Hammond, including five straight from 2013-17.

“This championship is going to look and feel very different to what we have been used to,” coach Jon Hammond said. “This year we have a young team with no one who has competed at a championship before. However, as a group, they have plenty of competition experience, and I know they are excited to be here. They are ready to compete and do their best.   

“It has been a strange and different season, but we are focused on finishing strong and really trying to enjoy the experience of being at an NCAA championship.”
 
The Mountaineers qualified as the field’s fourth-ranked team with a 9436 qualification mark, based on the team’s qualifying average of 4720.00 and its qualifying score of 4713, earned on Feb. 20, at the Lt. Hugh W. Wylie Range, in Columbus, Ohio.
 
Joining the Mountaineers at the championship are No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Ole Miss, No. 3 TCU, No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks, No. 6 Memphis, No. 7 Nebraska and No. 8 Air Force.
 
Last year, the NCAA Championships were canceled due to COVID-19. 
 
Individually, Eddy ranks No. 5 nationally, with a 587.75 smallbore season average. In air rifle, Smoyer and Shimizu rank No. 4 (596.875)and No. 5 (596.6), respectively.
 
Kentucky’s Mary Tucker ranks No. 1 in the nation with a smallbore average of 592.273, and TCU’s Stephanie Grundsøe ranks No. 1 in the nation with an air rifle average of 598.
 
Most recently, the Mountaineers claimed the GARC Championships crown in a virtual match in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Feb. 28, shooting a two-day total of 4727. WVU shot a winning 2346 smallbore and 2381 air rifle. 

A total of 48 competitors will compete at the championships, with eight selected as individual qualifiers. An NCAA rule established six years ago stipulates that a school that qualifies as a team is disqualified from sending individual qualifiers. 

Press Release Courtesy of West Virginia University Athletics Communications

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