WVU rifle team matches program record at NCAA Qualifier

By Chris Coombs, wvusports.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University rifle team shot a 4751 in the qualifying match for the 2023-24 NCAA Rifle Championships on Saturday afternoon, at the Bill McKenzie Mobile Rifle Range in Morgantown.

The aggregate total matches the program record and is the second time this season WVU has hit the mark.

West Virginia (13-0, 6-0 GARC) finished the match with scores of 2361 in smallbore and 2390 in air rifle to compile its team score of 4751. Combined with the average of the Mountaineers’ top-three scores of the 2023-24 regular season, which includes a 4751 vs Akron, 4749 at Ole Miss and 4748 at TCU, WVU’s qualifying score evens out to 9500.33. It is the best mark in the nation.

The Mountaineers shot alongside VMI coed and women’s teams in Saturday’s qualifier.

This weekend’s qualifying scores will be tabulated and determine the top eight teams who will make up the field at this year’s NCAA Championships, which will be announced on Monday, Feb. 19, on NCAA.com.

The NCAA Championships are being hosted by West Virginia and are scheduled for March 8-9. The season-ending event will take place inside the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.

Junior Gavin Barnick, freshman Griffin Lake and seniors Molly McGhin and Matt Sanchez served as counters for both smallbore and air rifle while fifth-year Malori Brown counted in smallbore, and freshman Lauri Syrja counted in air rifle.

McGhin swept the podium after posting an 1192 aggregate score with marks of 593 in smallbore and 599 in air rifle. Sanchez finished second with an 1189 (592 SB – 597 AR) while Lake finished just behind with a 1186 (590 SB – 596 AR).

Natalie Perrin finished tied for fourth on the overall leaderboard with an 1185 (587 SB – 598 AR), matching Syrja who hit marks of 591 in smallbore and 194 in air rifle. Barnick took sixth with an 1184 (586 SB – 589 AR).

Brown and Tal Engler finished tied for seventh with marks of 1177. Brown scored a 586 in smallbore and a 591 in air rifle as Engler hit a 589 and a 588 in smallbore and air rifle, respectively. Becca Lamb also cracked the top 10 with an 1173 (580 SB – 593 AR).

Freshman Maximus Duncan rounded out scoring for West Virginia with a combined score of 1138.

Barnick, McGhin, Sanchez, Syrja and Perrin all match career-highs for aggregate scores at the match.

Next up, West Virginia travels to West Point, New York, on Saturday, Feb. 24, for the 2023-24 Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships, hosted by Army. The event will be held at the Tronsrue Marksmanship Center in West Point. A start time for the GARC Championships will be announced later this week.

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