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NCAA Rifle Season Begins with West Virginia University Looking To Add to Rifle Legacy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (September 26, 2013)

Trace the roots of the top America competitive rifle shooters and you’ll see a common bond.  Foundations formed in shooting clubs across America and then moving on to hone those marksmanship skills at college campuses throughout North America.  That talent gets showcased in the months ahead starting in force this Saturday as another season of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Rifle gets underway. 

Matt Emmons and Jamie Gray started their Olympic dreams at Alaska Fairbanks; four-time Olympian Jason Parker was a standout at Xavier University before competing in four-straight Olympic Games; two-time Olympian Eric Uptagrafft is a part of that Mountaineer pride of West Virginia as is current National Team athlete Bryant Wallizer.  2012 Olympians Sarah Scherer and Amanda Furrer helped bolster their respective universities competing for Texas Christian University and Ohio State University respectively. Current National Team athlete Sarah Beard is a TCU alum too, while Dempster Christenson is a proud Nevada graduate, and Amy Sowash is a Kentucky Wildcat product. 

“We watch and follow the NCAA rifle season with great interest,” said USA Shooting’s National Rifle Coach Marcus Raab.  “The strength of these programs and the depth and quality of marksmanship present is a testament to the coaches at these universities and to the coaches that make our sport work at the grassroots level. The NCAA program is essential to the success of USA Shooting and our future depends on preserving its status as an NCAA sport and ensuring that the quality and quantity of college-age rifle opportunities persists.”

USAS has long supported the NCAA program: the athletes for the NCAA Teams come through the USAS, CMP, and NRA pipelines. The USAS Junior Olympic Program is a prime training vehicle for young athletes and a great recruiting ground for coaches. USAS and the NCAA programs are close partners as both organizations feed athletes to each other.

USAS also has hosted the NCAA Championships twice and has played a leadership role in bringing the NCAA program into the electronic target and finals era. Ongoing programs include coach certification and training, athlete and coach mentoring, skill seminars sponsored by both USAS and USOC, and a constant eye towards building the sport.

National Junior Team member Garrett Spurgeon (left) and Taylor Ciotola hope to lead West Virginia to their 16th NCAA Rifle title. This year’s crop of NCAA talent and those teams making the most noise in the end will likely be a result of the USA Shooting Team experience present at the major institutions of marksmanship.  West Virginia, Kentucky, Air Force, Alaska-Fairbanks, Ohio State, Nebraska, UTEP and Memphis all feature squads with USA Shooting Team members.  Kentucky has two National Team standouts in Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) and Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.) along with rising talent Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.) as they try and push the Wildcats past the Mountaineers having finished second in the NCAA Rifle Championships the past two seasons.  The Mountaineers may have lost their all-everything shooter Petra Zublasing but they retain the services of National Junior Team member Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) along with former National Junior Team member Taylor Ciotola (Pasadena, Md.).  Despite the lack of senior leadership, the Air Force Academy will be legit contenders as well with Meredith Carpentier (Waukegan, Ill.) and David Higgins (San Clemente, Calif.) having earned National Jr. Team distinction in the past year to go along with former junior team member Tyler Rico (Tucson, Ariz.).

Other notables are incoming freshman shooters Deanna Binnie (Holsopple, Pa.), the 2013 National Junior Olympic champion who took her talents to Buckeye nation and Ohio State University, along with Nebraska freshman Rachel Martin (Peralta, N.M.), who was the Junior National champion in smallbore (.22 caliber). Daniel Geer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will take his talents northward to the University of Alaska to pair with fellow Junior Team member Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska). The pair finished 1-2 at the 2013 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships. Former National Junior Team member Michael Liuzza will help form a strong trio for the traditional Nanook powerhouse rifle program. Fresh off a three-position rifle (3PAR) National title at the Civilian Marksmanship Program, earlier this summer, Rachael Schoenrock (Cortland, Neb.) is enrolled at University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) while National Development Team member Daniel Hermsmeier (Chesterfield, Mo.) continues to lead the Tiger attack at Memphis University.

Previous National Junior Team members Michael Matthews (Johns Creek, Ga.) of the Army, Kelsey Emme (Piedmont, S.D.) of Murray State and Catherine Greene (Coventry, R.I.) of Texas Christian will also help push their teams in the quest for a national title.

The formation of a new conference will add to the level of NCAA rifle excitement with six universities joining the newly formed Patriot Rifle Conference (PRC). Beginning this fall, the Patriot Rifle Conference will begin competition with head-to-head matches throughout the season and a conference championship scheduled at Ohio State, Feb. 8-9, in Columbus.  Charter members include the Air Force Academy, TCU, Ohio State, Nevada, UTEP, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.  USA Shooting Hall of Fame member and 1992 Olympic gold medalist, Launi Meili, the current coach at the Air Force Academy will serve as the commissioner of the PRC.

Competitive rifle shooting has been an established NCAA program since 1980 with Tennessee Tech taking the first three NCAA titles in the program’s early beginnings.

The Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) released their pre-season poll on August 27 featuring the defending National Champion West Virginia Mountaineers as the No. 1 team before first shots are fired down range on the season.

CRCA Preseason Rifle Poll

  1. West Virginia
  2. Kentucky
  3. Alaska-Fairbanks
  4. TCU
  5. Army
  6. Nebraska
  7. Air Force
  8. Jacksonville State
  9. Murray State
  10. Ohio State
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Memphis
  13. Nevada
  14. Navy
  15. North Carolina State
  16. Akron
  17. Columbus State
  18. UTEP
  19. Tennessee-Martin
  20. Morehead State

Also receiving votes:  Coast Guard, The Citadel

Below we've compiled a brief season preview of each team in the pre-season CRCA rankings. Previews and photos attributed to each university's Sports Information department and various school press releases and news sources.  

West Virginia

The West Virginia University rifle team is ranked No. 1 in the Preseason College Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) Top 20 Poll.

The Mountaineers, the defending National Champions, earned 12 of the poll’s 16 first-place votes. WVU ended last season at No. 1 after winning its nation-best 15th NCAA title.

“It’s nice to have this recognition going in to a new season,” says eighth-year coach Jon Hammond. “We lost a world-class shooter in (graduate) Petra (Zublasing), but we still have a great core that returns this year, and we will field a team that has a lot of experience. 

“While we appreciate this recognition from our peers, this team must be conscious of the fact that this is a new season, and we’re going to have to work hard to maintain that ranking and to improve as a team. I like starting the season at No. 1, but we’re prepared to work hard, too.” 

WVU went 11-1 last season en route to winning its 15th national championship. In addition to earning the Great American Rifle Conference (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. 

Five shooters with national championship experience return for WVU: juniors Taylor CiotolaMeelis KiiskThomas Kyanko and Maren Prediger, and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon. All five earned National Rifle Association (NRA) All-America honors last season, with all but Kyanko collecting at least one first-team recognition. 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.  

http://www.wvusports.com/teams.cfm?sport=rifle

Kentucky Rifle

The University of Kentucky rifle team will enter the 2013-14 season ranked No. 2 in the country for the second consecutive season.

"It's always exciting to start the season in this position. I'm honored the confidence that the coaches have in us and that they feel we're the second-best team heading in to the season," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "Obviously we want to pursue the top spot, work hard to move up and aim towards that spot."

The Wildcats finished the 2012-13 season with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, shooting an aggregate 4670 to finish nine points behind National Champion, West Virginia.

"Not being ranked No. 1 always gives us the opportunity to work toward that goal," Mullins said. "We have the talent and ability to reach that goal but we really haven't brought the work to the table yet to deserve a top ranking. It gives us something to strive toward. West Virginia is a great team; they have some solid returners and are always a powerhouse."

With the loss of six seniors after the 2012-13 season, including the smallbore and air rifle average leader Henri Junghänel, Kentucky will look for new faces to step up and incoming freshman to make an impact.

The Wildcats will return two All-America honorees from the 2012-13 season in senior Emily Holsopple and sophomore Connor Davis. Davis, named air rifle first team All-America last year, posted the team's second-best air rifle average as a freshman, averaging 592.1. Holsopple boasted a 583.4 smallbore average and 587.3 air rifle average in her junior campaign.

Kentucky opens the season Oct. 19 at home, hosting conference-foe Ole Miss.  They will host an NCAA Qualifier Feb. 22-23 before heading to Oxford for the Great America Rifle Conference Championships March 1-2. The NCAA Championships will be March 15-16 in Murray, Ky.

http://www.ukathletics.com/sports/c-rifle/kty-c-rifle-body.html

Alaska Fairbanks

The Alaska rifle program debuted in The Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association rankings at No. 3 entering the 2013-14 shooting season.
 
The Nanooks currently hold 10 national championships, which ranks second behind the defending champions, West Virginia.
 
Alaska, which joins the brand-new Patriot Rifle Conference entering this season, returns the bulk of its roster that took fourth place at the NCAA match last year, led by junior Ryan Anderson (Great Falls, Va./Biological Sciences). Anderson was named a First Team All-America smallbore member and was Second Team in air rifle. He took fourth individually in the smallbore match and turned in the highest score in the individual final.
 
The Nanooks return three other All-America members in seniors Mike Liuzza (New Orleans, La.) and Dustin Chesebro (Laramie, Wyo.) and junior Mats Eriksson (Malung, Sweden).
 
Liuzza was named to the All-America Second Team smallbore and was Honorable Mention in air gun. Also in air rifle, Chesebro was a Second Team member while Eriksson was Honorable Mention.
 
Alaska also returns five sophomores and adds three rookies, including freshman Dan Geer (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Geer comes to Fairbanks following a successful prep career both in the United States and internationally.  A Colorado State Junior Olympics champion, Geer earned a spot on the National Junior Development team. He was a silver medalist in the three-by-40 smallbore competition at the Junior Olympics and was the overall champion in the air rifle, three-position air rifle, smallbore and 60-shot prone disciplines at the National Rifle Association Regional Championships.
 
Alaska opens the season Sept. 28 and 29 at home when it faces a group of Nanook Alumni, including Olympic gold medalist Jamie (Beyerle) Gray. Gray will be inducted into the Nanook Hall of Fame the morning of the Sept. 28.

http://alaskananooks.com/index.aspx?path=rif

Air Force Rifle

When the Air Force rifle team takes the line for the first time in 2013, it will already be ranked seventh in the Division I NCAA Polls (Aug. 27, 2013). The team will be without senior leadership and will be looking to improve on its national team finish (fifth) from last season. 

Head Coach Launi Meili has no seniors and only two juniors, who will be the lead anchors for the team. However, Meili, and assistant coach Mike Anti, are not worried about the 2013-14 team because the returning team members are seasoned competitors coming from one of the school’s best collegiate seasons in over 10 years. 

Last year, the rifle team finished with an 18-3 record, had a 13-game win streak (Nov. 3, 2012 to Feb. 9, 2013), finished with a No. 7 ranking in the College Rifle Coaches Association Poll (CRCA), won the President’s Trophy Match for the first time in 12 years, set three team records and several personal records, made its first national appearance in the NCAA Championships since 2003 to top the season off with a fifth-place national ranking. 

“We’re looking to pick up where we left off last year and continue to gain ground toward the national championships,” said Meili. “Everyone who’s score counted for us last year at the nationals will be returning.  So now that we know how to do it, it’s time to pick up the pace and compete with the top programs in the country. Over the summer, we added another member of our team to the US National Development team with David Higgins’s performance at the USA Shooting National Championships. So we have three members on the national team and have a few more knocking on the door to make it as well. We are gaining depth and experience and it will serve us well as the conference we’ve entered will be challenging with so many great programs present.” 

The junior class is Meredith Carpentier from Waukegan, Ill., and Craig O’Daniel from Lebanon, Ky. Carpentier returns as a second team All-American in both smallbore and air rifle. Sophomores

David Higgins from San Clemente, Calif., Kevyn Stinett from Colorado Springs, Colo., and Tyler Rico from Tucson, Ariz., who is also a returning first team All-American (air rifle), all return having an NCAA championship under their belts. The freshmen class of Mary Simonton from Sharpsburg, Ga., Ryan Jacobs, Gresham, Ore., and Noah Kwock, Honolulu, Hawaii, will support the seasoned members and are expected to perform well in the coming years. 

http://www.goairforcefalcons.com/sports/c-rifle/afa-c-rifle-body.html 

TCU Rifle

TCU’s 15-match slate in 2013-14 features six home matches.  In addition, the Horned Frogs announced their inclusion in the newly formed Patriot Rifle Conference.

"The team is looking forward to making the transition into a conference and the added challenge of competing for a conference title," said head coach Karen Monez. "The schedule this year will test the team early in the season with the first four matches on the road. Everyone has been working hard with the goal of posting some solid scores at the start of the season."

TCU opens the regular season with its first four contests on the road beginning with an Oct. 4 tilt at Memphis.

Despite the loss of five seniors, including All-Americans Sarah BeardCaitlin Morrissey and Sarah Scherer, the Horned Frogs are full of talent with eight returning letterwinners.

As freshmen, the quartet of Hannah BlackKelly BogartMegan Lee and Allie Taschuk gained valuable shooting experience. Along with seniors Jaime Dowd and Catherine Green, the Frogs are poised to make a run at their eighth straight NCAA Championship.

Green is the veteran of the group having shot in each of the last three NCAA tournaments. Lee was a member of last year's squad that finished third at the championships. Black became the first individual since Celeste Green in 2006 to qualify as an individual. She competed in air rifle and qualified for the finals, finishing fifth overall.

http://gofrogs.cstv.com/sports/c-rifle/tcu-c-rifle-body.html

Army

The Army rifle team heads into its 14th season under head coach Ron Wigger ranked fifth in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association Top 20 preseason poll. The Black Knights, boasting three All-Americans on their roster, finished ahead of Air Force (No. 7) and Navy (No. 14).

Last March, Army earned its 10th straight bid to the NCAA Tournament where the Black Knights finished sixth among the eight qualifying teams.

The Black Knights were among four teams (West Virginia, Kentucky and Nebraska) from the Great America Rifle Conference to earn a bid to last year's NCAA Tournament.

Four members of Army's 2013 NCAA contingent return in seniors Richard CalvinMichael MatthewsJoseph Todaro, along with sophomore Alyssa Gestl. The unit will provide leadership in 2013-14 as Army looks to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year and improve upon last year's placing.

The Black Knights open the season the first weekend in October on the road with a pair of GARC matches against Ole Miss (Oct. 5) and Memphis (Oct. 6) . Army, hosting seven of 12 dual matches at Tronsrue Marksmanship Center, makes its home debut against Coast Guard on Oct. 19.

"Our program reached a major milestone in 2012-13 by qualifying for the NCAA Championship for the 10th year in a row," said Coach Wigger, who heads into his 14th season at the helm. "I think that is very symbolic of a program that has maintained a high level of success over a long period of time. It speaks volumes of the success and longevity of the program to continue to bring in quality athletes."

http://www.goarmysports.com/sports/c-rifle/

Nebraska

Nebraska enters the 2013-14 season ranked No. 6 in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association Top 20.

Coach Stacy Underwood will lead the Huskers in her second season as Nebraska’s head coach. Last season, Underwood guided Nebraska to a seventh-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Championships.

http://www.huskers.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=100&SPID=40&SPSID=164

Jacksonville State

After making its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Rifle Championships a season ago, the Jacksonville State rifle team begins the 2013-14 campaign ranked eighth in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association's Preseason Poll.

JSU opens the 2013-14 season on Saturday, Sept. 28 against Memphis, followed by a match at the University of Mississippi on Sunday, Sept. 29.  JSU's first home competition will be on Saturday, Oct. 5 as it will host OVC foe UT Martin.

The Gamecocks, under the guidance of veteran head coach Ron Frost, wrapped up 2012-13 placing eighth at the NCAA Championships that were held in Columbus, Ohio.  Frost, the 2012-13 OVC Rifle Coach of the Year, returns a host of experienced shooters, led by senior Sam Muegge.  Junior Cole Tucker will bolster the lineup after placing second in the air rifle competition at the NCAA Championships.  After a successful freshman campaign in which she won the OVC smallbore medalist honors, Samantha Bullard will look to continue her steady marks as a sophomore.

http://www.jsugamecocksports.com/index.aspx?path=rifle

Murray State

This season's edition of the Racers will be bolstered by four strong returning shooters from last year, led by 2013 NRA All-American for air rifle and an air rifle and smallbore All-OVC selection Kelsey Emme.  Also returning to the range for MSU this season will be another double All-OVC honoree, Michael Burzynski, as well as Bill Harvey and Tessa Howald All-OVC selections in smallbore and air rifle, respectively.

Murray State kicks off its season at the Ole Miss Invitational on Oct. 4 in Oxford and will host its first tri-match Oct. 20 against Morehead State and Columbus State. 
 
Murray State will host the NCAA Rifle Championships in March for the first time since 2004 and will be looking to return for the first time since the 2010-11 season.  Spurgin Range will also play host to the OVC Championships on Feb. 8 and a NCAA Qualifier on Feb. 22.
 
http://www.goracers.com/index.aspx?path=rifle

Ohio State

The rifle team returns seven letter winners from the 2012-13 season including WIRC Championship Team members Amanda LuomaRemington LymanMegan Polonsky and Alex Kimura.

They’ll be bolstered by a strong freshman class that includes 2013 National Junior Olympic Shooting Champion Deanna Binnie along with Anthony Cuozzo, Kendal Elder, Megan Hilbish and Chrissy Thomas.  The class is the first to be brought in under coach Ryan Tanoue.

http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/c-rifle/

Ole Miss

With five letterwinners and the top three shooters from the 2012-13 season returning this year, the Ole Miss rifle team earned a ranking of No. 11 in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association (CRCA) preseason poll.  

"We are excited about the preseason recognition, but this ranking isn't as important as the one at the end," head coach Valerie Boothe said.  "Rankings change throughout the year, but our effort and dedication will not.  We are determined to make this our best year."

Leading the returnees are seniors Melissa Quartarone and Abbey Stanec.  Stanec led the team in air rifle last year with a season average of 584.6 and qualified for the NCAA Championships in both air rifle and smallbore.   Quartarone produced the top smallbore average (575) for the Rebels and earned All-GARC honors in Combined.

The Rebels have just missed out on making the NCAA Championships as a team the past three years and are hoping with a senior-laden squad, 2013-14 will be the year they finally kick the door in.  

The quest begins Sept. 28 in Oxford as the Rebels host the Ole Miss Invitational.  The team's first home dual match will be Oct. 5 against Army. 
http://www.olemisssports.com/sports/w-rifle/

Memphis

The University of Memphis rifle team will start the 2013-14 season ranked 12th in the country, according to preseason rankings released by the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association.

The Tigers are coming off of a strong 2012-13 campaign where they finished the season ranked 10th in the country and saw the program climb to as high at eighth during the season; the highest ranking in program history.

This season, Memphis returns all but one shooter from last season including senior Dan Hermsmeier who is coming off his best season to date. Hermsmeier earned his third and fourth All-America honors last season landing a spot on first team in smallbore and air rifle.

The Tigers also welcome newcomer Amy Fister from Kutztown, Pa. Fister joins Memphis after a successful career as a standout member of the Kutztown High School rifle team. The Memphis rifle team kicks of the season hosting the Tiger open beginning on September 28th.

http://www.gotigersgo.com/sports/c-rifle/mem-c-rifle-body.html

Nevada

The rifle team is comprised of 16 members this season.  The team is a mixed squad of both men and women. The team will once again be led by head coach Fred Harvey, the 2003 Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association Coach of the Year.  Harvey enters his 19th year directing the Nevada rifle program. 

In 2013-14 the team will be competing in the newly formed Patriot Rifle Conference (PRC).  The six team conference is comprised of the U.S. Air Force Academy, TCU, Ohio State, Nevada, UTEP, and the University of Alaska.  The conference will include head-to-head matches throughout the season, with a conference championship scheduled at Ohio State Feb. 8-9 (smallbore on Saturday, air rifle on Sunday). 

The Pack begins the regular season on Oct. 12 at UTEP.

http://www.nevadawolfpack.com/sports/c-rifle/

Navy

The upcoming year will mark a new era for the Navy program as it becomes an official member of the Great America Rifle Conference (GARC). The Mids' schedule includes matches against all seven GARC opponents - Army, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina State, Nebraska, Ole Miss and West Virginia.

"The move to the Great America Rifle Conference has been highly anticipated by our team and myself," said Kelley. "Joining the GARC represents a great step forward as we compete nationally against some of the top-rated teams in the country; last year four GARC teams qualified for the eight available spots at the NCAA Championships.

The Mids will begin the year with the Navy Invitational at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range on Oct. 5-6. The following weekend on Oct. 12, Navy will face the University of the Sciences in the first of three matches against the Devils.

http://www.navysports.com/sports/c-rifle/

North Carolina State

Last season the Wolfpack won the SEARC championship for the second consecutive year and claimed its seventh title in program history. The squad only lost one shooter from last season's roster - graduate student Bryan Cross.

The NC State rifle team opened the 2013-14 campaign with a win at the first South Eastern Air Rifle Conference match of the season, held at VMI last Saturday. The Wolfpack finished with a team score of 2322 in the air rifle competition to finish first, besting the second place team’s total by 48.

“Overall, it was a great match for the team,” said head coach Keith Miller. “There were a few unknowns coming into this match since we don’t usually start this early, but we look at this match as a jump start that will help guide us for the next two weeks of practice as we prepare for some big matches in October.”

“Our core group of shooters are back from last year –Daniel CliffAlex Martin and Madeline Pike – and they paced us well in this match,” said Miller. “Today was a very good from a coaching perspective as we can now focus on a few things we identified and be better prepared for the heart of our season.”

NC State will have its next match against Ole Miss in Fairbanks, Alaska on Oct. 11, before competing against Alaska – Fairbanks on the following day.  

http://www.gopack.com/sports/c-rifle/ncst-c-rifle-body.html

Akron

The 2013-14 Zips rifle season will begin at the Mid-Atlantic Conference Open in Annapolis, Md., on Oct. 6. The team brings back 11 members of the 2012-13 roster, while also adding six newcomers.

One of the newest members of Zips rifle, sophomore Matthew Chezem, has already made a name for himself outside of shooting in the collegiate ranks. This summer, Chezem finished second in the nation at the NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships.  Chezem is a strong addition to an Akron rifle team that looks to defend it MAC Smallbore Championship for the third year in a row.

http://www.gozips.com/sports/rifle/index

Columbus State

Entering its second season as members of the Ohio Valley Conference, Columbus State University, under head rifle coach Mike Greene, will begin its season on the road Sept. 28 with a head-to-head match with Memphis before traveling to Oxford, MS to compete in the Ole Miss Invitational on September 29. 

The Cougars’ 15-meet slate is filled with matches against the nation's elite as the the team will compete in eight meets that feature opponents ranked inside the top-15 in last season's final Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association poll. 

"We always try to schedule the top teams in the nation," said Greene. "This year is no different as we face some stiff competition throughout the season." 

"I feel like with our returning shooters and the pieces we added this offseason that this year's team will be one of the strongest in program history." 

http://www.csucougars.com/sports/rifle/index

UTEP

http://www.utepathletics.com/sports/w-rifle/

Tennessee Martin

The University of Tennessee at Martin head rifle coach Bob Beard announced four additions to next his team including Dacotah Faught, Alexandra Haid, Logan Dixon and Katrina Klaes.

These four newcomers join Breanna Flint, a distinguished expert from the same Galway, NY program that produced four-time All-Ohio Valley Conference Skyhawk shooter Heather Tillson, and Missouri state champion Logan Hunt, the brother of two-time All-OVC shooter Kelsea Hunt.

“This is one of our top recruiting classes in program history,” Beard said. “We are adding a bunch of excellent students with a wealth of competitive experience. This group gives us a lot of depth on both the mixed and women’s teams with several candidates for conference honors during their first year at UT Martin.”

Last season, the Skyhawks had a successful season under Beard, finishing 16th in the nation in the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association final polls. That marked the 30th time in the last 31 years that UT Martin had ended the season ranked amongst the nation’s top-20 teams.

http://www.utmsports.com/sport/rifle

Morehead State

Morehead State’s schedule features nine competitions, including matches with three Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association top 20 programs.  The No. 20 Eagles return nine shooters, including All-OVC performers Mary Saenger and Christian Hashagen.

MSU hosts three competitions at Button Auditorium, including the season opener with Rose-Hulman (Ind.) on Oct. 5, No. 17 Columbus State on Nov. 16 and No. 16 Akron on Nov. 17.

The Eagles will travel to UT Martin (Oct. 19), No. 9 Murray State (Oct. 20) and Rose Hulman (Feb. 1), before beginning postseason competitions on Feb. 8 with the OVC Championship.

http://www.msueagles.com/index.aspx?path=mrifle

U.S. Coast Guard Academy 

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy has hired Richard Hawkins, prior coach of a three-time U.S. National Shooting Team Championship winning team, as the first full-time academy shooting sports coach. 

Hawkins coached at the international level during the twelve years he spent at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., where he served as a pistol coach before accepting the position at the Coast Guard Academy. Having also previously served as the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's international rifle coach, Hawkins coached team members to both world championships and the Olympics. 

"The level of discipline, dedication, and fitness of the service academy cadets is unparalleled among collegiate students," said Hawkins. "Working with cadets of this caliber will allow me to develop them into top competitors."  

Through recruitment and by developing current shooters, Hawkins hopes to have Coast Guard Academy shooters competing at the national level. 

http://uscgasports.com/sports/rifle/index

The Citadel 

The Citadel rifle team trekked to Lexington, Va., to open the 2013-14 season last weekend in the first Southeastern Air Rifle Conference match of the season hosted by VMI.

The Bulldogs entered the season ranked No. 21 in the nation by the College Rifle Coaches' preseason poll and will compete against No. 15 NC State, Wofford, VMI and North Georgia College & State University.

The men's team will compete with Nathaniel MoyRichard HuntonRobert Jackson and Charles Yeh while the women's squad will consist of Haley OsmerAshten ByrneTeddi Haliscak and Amber Mills.

Jackson carded five conference scores of 570 or better last season and closed out his sophomore campaign with a team-leading conference average of 573.1. The mark was good for seventh place in the conference. Hunton, who finished ninth in the conference a year ago with an air rifle average of 570.3, took 11th place in the 2013 SEARC Championship.

The women's team is looking to rebuild with a young roster after losing two-year team captain Julia McCullohs and Terri Craig to graduation.

"It will be a tough year in the conference, but we have strong shooters and a good core that we can build this team around," said head coach William C. Smith.

http://www.citadelsports.com/sports/rifle/index

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