WVU rifle team sets NCAA record with 16th GARC Tournament win

By Chris Coombs, wvusports.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University rifle team finished with a team score of 4759 to finish in first place for the second straight season at the 2023-24 Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships on Sunday afternoon at the Tronsrue Marksmanship Center.
 
West Virginia’s aggregate score set a new NCAA record for team score at a match, besting TCU’s mark of 4758 set just last season. The victory marks the 16th time in program history the Mountaineers have claimed the GARC Conference Tournament Championship.
 
The Mountaineers scored a first-place air rifle score of 2393. WVU entered the day with a 16-point lead over Kentucky, producing the best smallbore score of 2366 during the opening day of action. West Virginia’s mark in both aggregate and air rifle set new program records. WVU bested the previous aggregate mark by eight points and improved the air rifle score by one.
 
Kentucky finished in second with a 4747 (2350 SB – 2387 AR) while Ole Miss claimed third at 4717 (2340 SB – 2377 AR).
 
Four Mountaineers qualified for the air rifle final, in fifth-year Mary Tucker, senior Molly McGhin, junior Gavin Barnick and freshman Griffin Lake.
 
Tucker claimed second place in the final, falling just behind Kentucky’s Braden Peiser who took first place. Barnick also cracked the podium in third place as McGhin finished in fourth and Lake ended his day in seventh place.
 
Barnick paced the Mountaineers in qualifying, producing the program’s eighth perfect 600 in program history. The Menasha, Wisconsin native hit 56 centers for the match. Tucket and Lake both hit 598s in qualifying and McGhin scored a 597.
 
Nine Mountaineers tallied a 590 or better in Sunday’s air rifle relays. Joining the four who made the finals for WVU above the mark were freshman Lauri Syrja (597), seniors Matt Sanchez (595) and Tal Engler (594), fifth-year Malori Brown and junior Natalie Perrin scored matching 593s also hit above 590.
 
Barnick finished in second place in aggregate score, the highest for WVU, with an 1193 (593 SB – 600 AR). In total, five Mountaineers packed the top 10 of the leaderboard.
 
Tucker finished just behind in third with an 1190 (591 SB – 598 AR) while Lake claimed fourth with a 1188 (590 SB – 598 AR). McGhin finished in fifth place after scoring an 1187 (590 SB – 597 AR) and Sanchez took seventh with an 1186 (591 SB – 595 AR).
 
The Mountaineers will take a week off from competition before hosting the 2024 NCAA Rifle National Championship in Morgantown, West Virginia, from March 9-10. This year’s event will take place inside the WVU Coliseum for the second time in program history.
 
The Mountaineers qualified as the field’s top-ranked team with a qualifying mark of 9500.33. Joining WVU at this year’s championships are No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Air Force. No. 4 Kentucky, No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks, No. 6 Ole Miss, No. 7 Navy and No. 8 Nebraska.

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