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Kentucky’s Davis Wins NCAA Air Rifle Title, West Virginia Claims 16th National Championship

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (March 15, 2014)

In college rifle, days don’t come much bigger than this.

The NCAA Rifle National Championships came to a close today on the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range in Murray, Ky. with No. 1-ranked West Virginia claiming a nation-best 16th NCAA championship. The Mountaineers claimed their second championship in a row with their score of 4,705, beating the previous record score of 4,700 set in 2011 by Kentucky.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been this relaxed coming into a championships,” said West Virginia coach Jon Hammond. “I think that came from the team being confident in its capabilities and also from really good preparation. We were ready for this competition – we were ready to shoot well and shoot consistently anywhere, at any time.”

Third-ranked Alaska-Fairbanks placed second with a total score of 4,677 and second-ranked Kentucky placed third with a score of 4,675. West Virginia also claimed the smallbore title yesterday with a score of 2,388.

Air Rifle National Champion Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) can now also add “NCAA Air Rifle National Champion” to his accomplishments when he claimed the title today shooting a 205.4 to best Maren Prediger of West Virginia (205.0). In the team competition, Davis shot a 593, the third-best score of the day to qualify him for the finals. Davis built up a lead early in the first two, three shot series that Prediger couldn’t overcome. Read more about his winning performance in Morgan (Hicks) Wallizer’s analysis below.

Prediger’s West Virginia teammate Ziva Dvorsak finished in third with a score of 185.1.

The 2014 NRA Collegiate All-American Rifle Teams were also announced at these NCAA Rifle National Championships. Winners of the All-American title, recognized as the highest honor in collegiate shooting, have gone on to distinguish themselves in international competitions, representing their country both nationally and internationally.

To see who was named to which team, please visit: www.usashooting.org//library/2014_NRA_Collegiate_All_Americans.docx

For finals scores from the NCAA Rifle National Championships: http://www.usashooting.org/library/Final_Results_Book.pdf

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

Well, the final day of 2014 NCAA Championships is done!  Today was a little different than yesterday.  The event was held in the CFSB Center at Murray State University.  Usually there are basketball games being held in the center, but today it was Rifle and it was amazing!!  This was so different than when I was a student and we hosted. We shot on paper targets in an old classroom that was next to the smallbore range.  Now we are able to watch the entire match in the bleachers with giant screens of the live electronic targets.

On the first relay we had the highest score all day shot by West Virginia University’s Maren Prediger with a 596, just four points off a perfect score!  The second relay seemed to have some stronger shooters with most of the finalist coming from this second relay.  The finalists were Prediger 596 (WVU), Faught 595 (UT Martin), Dvorsak 594 (WVU), Sherry 593 (UAF), Davis 593 (Kentucky), Anderson 592 (UAF), Lee 592 (Memphis), and Spurgeon 591 (WVU).  Five different universities were represented in the finals. 

Throughout the final, University of Kentucky's Davis held his own and was able to come out the Champion!  He commented after, "It has been a dream come true today.  This has been a goal of mine and I am pleased with how I did today.  During the final, I wanted to get as far ahead as possible in those first two, three shot series which is hard to do in Air Rifle, but it is what helped me push through to the end.  I couldn't be more pleased with how I ended up.”

Second place went to Maren Prediger of WVU, and third place went to teammate Ziva Dvorsak.  Not only did WVU do well in the finals and have three of their team members make the Final, two of them finish in the medals, but the team as a whole did amazing.  Did I mention they set a new NCAA RECORD?!  This is also their 16th National Championship win!  To be able to accomplish a team win just once is an amazing feat but to have a program win 16 different years really shows what a determined program they have.  Even after the team was shut down for a few years, they rallied with the community around them to instill the program back and they have proven over the past few years it was the right decision.

The second-place team was another strongly decorated team, the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a 4677.  They had the smallbore National Champion on their team, Tim Sherry, who won the title yesterday. He made the final today as well.  The third-place team was the University of Kentucky with a score of 4675.  They had solid, consistent performances throughout the competition including the Air Rifle National Champion, Davis. 

Now, even though this next team did not finish in the Top Three, they do deserve a mention.  University of Memphis shot a 4669 giving them fourth place.  The team has not made an NCAA Championship in years and was able to shoot their second-highest score all season at the NCAA Championship!  They had Elizabeth Lee on their team making both the Smallbore and Air Rifle final and is one of the youngest members of the team!  Way to go Memphis! 

It was so great getting to come back to Murray, my alma mater, and see a bunch of people I haven't seen in a long time and to just be a part of something so phenomenal!  I hope people see that so much good can come from our sport and realize that each and every person who shot in the match this weekend had a dream come true of being at the NCAA Rifle Championships!  Thanks for a wonderful season, everyone, I hope next year is even bigger and better!

For Morgan Wallizer’s photo gallery from NCAA Championships: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usashooting/sets/72157642339881985/

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

Release composed with help from West Virginia University.Photo courtesy of WVU Sports Communications/Lori A. Allen Photo.

 

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