No. 2 WVU Rifle Team Wins GARC Championship
Thrasher, Anti finish unbeaten
MORGANTOWN — Seniors Ginny Thrasher and Will Anti knew they were coming to a successful program when they elected to come to Morgantown four years ago to compete on the Mountaineers’ rifle team.
As the wins continued to mount during their tenures with No. 2 West Virginia, their individual successes continued to grow as well.
Saturday the duo became the first four-year performers for the Mountaineers to complete their regular seasons unbeaten when WVU knocked off No. 4 Kentucky by a 4723-4678 margin at the UK Range in Lexington, Kentucky. It was the Mountaineers’ sixth straight regular season championship.
“I never gave it much thought,” Thrasher said following WVU’s win over No. 9 Navy in its final home regular season match. “But, now that I know, that would be something special to accomplish.”
The Mountaineers (13-0, 8-0 GARC) handed the Wildcats (11-1, 7-1 GARC)) their first loss of the season in assertive fashion, winning smallbore, 2346-2320, and air rifle, 2377-2358. WVU’s aggregate and smallbore marks are season highs, besting totals of 4712 and 2345, respectively.
“It was a really pleasing performance,” Mountaineers coach Jon Hammond said. “It’s always nice to win a conference championship and to defeat a rival team, no less the defending national champion. Most importantly, today was a really good team performance, featuring a lot of season-high scores.”
The title is the Mountaineers’ conference-best 12th since 1998. Since joining the program as head coach in the fall of 2006, Hammond has led WVU to six undefeated seasons; the Mountaineers have not lost a regular-season match since falling, 4706-4705, at Alaska-Fairbanks on Feb. 1, 2015.
“Today’s title is a nice addition to the other accomplishments this team has been able to achieve,” Hammond said. “It says a lot about the consistently of this program and how we’re able to maintain a high level. That’s a credit to the team members. We don’t take anything for granted.”
A pair of Mountaineers tallied the individual wins, as Thrasher shot 597 (100-99-100-99-99-100) air rifle and sophomore David Koenders finished with a career-high matching 588 (195 kneeling, 199 prone, 194 standing) smallbore.
Sophomore Sarah Osborn finished right behind Koenders in smallbore with a season-high 587. Junior Morgan Phillips placed fourth with a 586, and Thrasher shot 585 for a fifth-place finish. Freshman Jared Eddy landed in seventh place with a 581 total, and junior Milica Babic and freshman Verena Zaisberger tied for eighth place with 576s. Anti finished 10th with a 575 total, and sophomore Noah Barker placed 12th with a 574.
With the win, WVU improves to 20-9 all-time against the Wildcats.
The Mountaineers next shoot an NCAA qualifying match Saturday at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building.