Husker Martin Wins NCAA Smallbore Title; Host Alaska Fairbanks with Day One Lead

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (March 13, 2015)

The No. 2-ranked University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) used the home-range advantage to finish Day 1 of the 2015 NCAA Rifle Championships with a slight 12-point lead over No.1-ranked West Virginia University going into tomorrow’s air rifle competition.   

University of Nebraska sophomore Rachel Martin, shown here competing at the 2014 USA Shooting Winter Airgun Championships, earned the NCAA smallbore (.22 caliber) rifle title Friday in Fairbanks.Individually, it was Nebraska’s Rachel Martin (Peralta, New Mexico) with the standout finals performance that lead her to being crowned the 2015 NCAA Smallbore Champion, the first NCAA Rifle champion for the Cornhuskers since Kristina Fehlings won air rifle in 2006. 

Behind a strong performance from National Junior Team members Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska) and Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colorado), the Nanooks won the smallbore (.22 caliber) discipline with a 2331 aggregate score.   Both Anderson and Sherry made the event final with Anderson finishing runner-up to Martin while the Sherry was unable to defend his national title in the event, finishing fifth.

Also shooting for the first place Nanooks were fellow National Junior Team members Sagen Maddalena and Lorelie Stanfield as well as Mats Eriksson. Maddalena and Stanfield each shot a 580, as they just missed out on the finals, while Eriksson rounded out the team with a 576.

"If we shoot the way we have been all year long, we'll get to where we want to be," said UAF Rifle Coach Dan Jordan. "We don't need to go out and try and shoot personal bests or rack up major points with every shot; it's all about just doing what we should.  "We have one of the strongest smallbore teams in the nation, but nothing is given going forward. Some of the team's here are the best air rifle teams in the country. We've been shooting very well and we are confident that we can build off today's success."

Senior Ziva Dvorsak and juniors Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Missouri) and Michael Bamsey paced the Mountaineers with qualifying scores that earned them a spot among the top-8 finalists.  Seniors Maren Prediger and Thomas Kyanko scored 572 in the relay.  National Junior Team member Spurgeon placed fourth in the final while Dvorsak and Bamsey followed in sixth and seventh, respectively. 

“Our score is not what we would have liked it to be,” WVU head coach Jon Hammond said. “It’s definitely below our average. I thought our performance was good today, however, and all five of the team members shot their match how I would want them to shoot it.” 

Other finalists included National Team member Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Kentucky) of Kentucky, who finished on the podium in third place as well as Murray State’s Ben Estes, who finished eighth despite having the top qualifying score of 587.  

Bolstered by their new national champion, Nebraska sits in third position with 2,311 points, six shots in front of fourth-place Texas Christian University with 2,305. Jacksonville State finished the day in fifth place with a score of 2,302 while Kentucky (2,298), Murray State (2,296) and Air Force (2,282) rounded out the team standings.

Tomorrow's air rifle competition begins with team relays that start a 11:15 am ET and will last until around 5:45 pm ET. Following the team relays, the individual finals will start at 6:45 pm ET with the awards ceremony starting upon the completion of the finals.

USA Shooting National Development Team member Michael Liuzza has returned back to his alma mater and is providing in-depth coverage, analysis and photos throughout the event.  You can follow his great work by following us FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Thanks to West Virginia University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, the NCAA and the NRA for their editorial assistance. 

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