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Nanook Marksman Sherry Claims NCAA Smallbore Title While WVU is Halfway to Sweet 16

MURRAY, Ky.

An exciting first day of NCAA Rifle action concluded with University Alaska-Fairbanks shooter Tim Sherry claiming an individual title while West Virginia University stands on the precipice of another impressive team title. 

Sherry etched his name in the history books of all-time Nanook greats with an impressive performance in the finals.  Meanwhile, WVU opened defense of its national championship, winning the 2014 NCAA smallbore tilte with a score of 2338 today, at the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships, at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range, in Murray, Ky. 

The smallbore title is a first under Mountaineers coach Jon Hammond, now in his eighth year.  Five student-athletes shot for WVU, with juniors Ziva Dvorsak (588), Thomas Kyanko (584) and Meelis Kiisk (581), and sophomore Garrett Spurgeon (585) combining for the team score. Additionally, junior Maren Prediger shot 571. 

“I don’t know if we expected this result, but I knew we were capable of this,” says Hammond. “They are all really good, experienced shooters. We prepared carefully for this championship. We wanted them to be comfortable shooting this match, and they were. They were confident, and they were able to shoot scores in and around their season averages. You can’t ask for a whole lot more than that.” 

No. 3-ranked Alaska-Fairbanks trails WVU by 17 shots and sits in second place with a 2321 score. No. 6 Memphis is third with a 2320 mark, while No. 2 Kentucky is fourth (2316) and No. 4 Nebraska is fifth (2313). 

The Mountaineers’ (10-0, 7-0 GARC) score is their second-highest of the season and top mark since shooting 2342 in a win over NC State on Jan. 19. 

WVU led all schools with three individual finalists including Dvorsak, National Junior Team member Spurgeon, and Kyanko. Ohio State followed with two finalists including Amanda Luoma (587) and National Junior Team member Deanna Binnie (584). The other finalist included Elizabeth Lee of Memphis (585). 

Spurgeon, a Canton, Mo., native, and eventual winner Tim Sherry of Alaska-Fairbanks were neck-and-neck throughout the final five shots, with Sherry owning a four-tenths lead entering the last shot. Sherry edged Spurgeon on the final shot, 7.7-7.6, and scored the national title with a final score of 452.1. Nebraska’s Denise Martin finished third with a score of 443.3. Binnie finished fourth to put two USA Shooting National Junior Team members into the final four of NCAA Rifle results on Day 1. 

“We will approach tomorrow as a completely new day,” says Hammond. “We can’t worry about the score at all. We need to forget about today and re-focus. We don’t want to be up or down. We want to be very even tomorrow – focused, prepared and professional. We want to shoot our best.” 

For NCAA Smallbore results, click here: http://www.odcmp.org/range/IndividualSmallbore.pdf

For photos visit this gallery, courtesy of Todd May: http://galleries.maysphotography.com/ncaa/index.html

To follow the action on Saturday, click here: http://www.thecmp.org/3p/NCAA/2014Championships.htm

Release composed with help from West Virginia University.

First-person Analysis from 2004 NCAA Air Rifle National Champion & 2004 Olympian Morgan (Hicks) Wallizer:

Day one of the NCAA Rifle competition is done!  With 3 relays to get everyone in and finals, it was a long day but worth it in the end.  The 2014 Smallbore team Champions are the West Virginia University Rifle Team Coached by Jon Hammond.  The team finished strong with their final two shooters scoring 584 by Kyanko and a 588 by Dvorsak to add to a final team total of 2338!  Second place team was Alaska Fairbanks with a 2321 barely inching out Memphis with a 2320.  To be that close after having five different people shoot and counting 4 of the 5 scorers is pretty amazing. 

Today was the first time Murray State University has hosted NCAA's since 2004. That was my last year as a collegiate shooter. Things have changed so much since then. We now have electronic targets, which allow us to have results immediately.  I remember that the most nerve racking thing for us was waiting until the scorers had finished scoring our paper targets.  It was all or nothing for us too, no extra final to shoot, but honestly I am glad it was like that for us!  I don't know if my nerves could have handled that. 

Well, after seeing all the scores today the top 8 shooters were selected and lined up to shoot the finals in the new format that the ISSF has adapted. They started off in kneeling, then have a quick sighter and change over period of just 7 minutes. Prone was next, then another sighter and change over period of 9 minutes. After that was the final portion, standing, where the eliminations start.  

Third place went to Nebraska's Denise Martin, who said, "I was pleased with my score and happy with how things went today. I shot a personal best in the match today and hit a goal of making top 3." 

Then it was down to just two shooters.  Going into the last shot they were only .2 apart.  Can you even imagine knowing that going into the last shot, and knowing that you could be an NCAA Champion after one more shot. I feel sick with nerves just typing this!  But, these are amazing athletes and they knew it wasn't going to be easy, but the drive to win was stronger than nerves. Second place went to Garrett Spurgeon of West Virginia University who said, "It’s hard to be that close and still be happy, but I am happy with how I did overall today, and knowing I had a lot of positives from today makes it easier. Tomorrow is a new day, and a new opportunity."   

The 2014 NCAA Smallbore Individual Champion is Tim Sherry from University of Alaska Fairbanks. Tim said, "I was surprised at how well things went today for me. The goal was for a team title but winning individual is something I am proud of too.  Tomorrow we will try for the team title again, and hopefully we will prevail".  I cannot tell you how proud I am of all these shooters, just getting here and competing is an amazing accomplishment and wish everyone the best of luck tomorrow for the Air Rifle portion of the competition.”   

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