The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team shot a school-record aggregate score and toppled No. 2-ranked and Great American Rifle Conference foe Kentucky, 4691-4642, Saturday (Nov. 21) at the WVU Rifle Range.
The Mountaineers’ team score is believed to be the highest collegiate aggregate total since the NCAA implemented a 60-shot course at the onset of the 2004-05 season. The total is 14 shots better than WVU’s previous school record of 4677, set last year.
Additionally, WVU (6-0, 3-0 GARC) remains undefeated in both disciplines this season, as the team triumphed over UK in smallbore, 2333-2294, and air rifle, 2358-2348. The Mountaineers’ smallbore score is a school record, while their air rifle total is one shot short of matching the school record.
“I wanted the team to peak for this match, but to shoot the scores we did today and to achieve this kind of overall result was beyond our expectations,” says fourth-year coach Jon Hammond. “Today was a really good day and a big confidence boost for this team.”
WVU’s smallbore score was an exceptionally bright spot for the squad, as the team improved on its old record by 14 shots (2319).
“This smallbore score was a big barrier that we were able to finally cross,” Hammond explains. “We crushed our school record and today was a big step in the right direction.”
Junior Brandi Eskew shot a personal-best 586 smallbore, one short of the individual school record, to pace the Mountaineers. The Petersburg, W.Va., native’s total included a school-record 200 prone, 194 standing and 192 kneeling.
Classmates Kyle Smith, Andy Lamson and Tommy Santelli combined with Eskew for the Mountaineer record and respectively finished second, third and fourth. Smith shot a season-best 584, while Lamson shot 582 and Santelli totaled a season-best 581. Additionally, sophomore Justin Pentz matched Santelli’s score and also tied for fourth place.
UK’s Katie Fretts paced the Wildcats and tied Santelli and Pentz for fourth place.
The Wildcats’ Ashley Jackson edged Lamson in air rifle, finishing first overall with a score of 592; Lamson shot 591. Sophomore Michael Kulbacki finished third overall with a score of 590, while Santelli shot a season-best 589 and finished in fifth place. Senior Bryant Wallizer finished in sixth place with a score of 588, and Eskew shot a season-best 586 to finish eighth.
Lamson finished first overall with a combined score of 1173. The Colchester, Vt., native set the WVU combined score record (1177) in the October win at Ohio State.
Eskew finished second with a combined score of 1172, while Santelli finished third with a score of 1170. Both scores are season-best marks.
With the win, the Mountaineers improve their series edge over the Wildcats to 14-7, and avenge their lone 2008-09 regular season loss.
WVU will now break for two months before its next match in January.
“This match is something we can build on over the break,” says Hammond. “This is a great way to finish the semester. Our season is playing out well so far. We know there is still a lot to work towards, but everything is going to plan so far and we are happy.”
The Mountaineers return to the WVU Rifle Range on Jan. 17 and play host to NC State at 8 a.m.