Texas Christian University moves into lead for team championship
Columbus, Ohio - West Virginia senior Petra Zublasing became this year's smallbore champion at the NCAA Rifle Championships after a hard fought final at Ohio State University's Converse Hall.
Shooting a 589-35x earlier in the Smallbore Championship, Zublasing began the eight-man final just behind University of Kentucky's Henri Junghanel who had edged her with a 589-36x.
Junghanel would only remain in first until points were on the board. As the dust settled from the first shot, Zublasing was ahead by one and her lead over the Kentucky shooter would fluctuate back and forth over the next nine shots until her victory was sealed.
Junghanel, to his credit, did not give up. Slipping to third in the now-decisive second shot with a 8.8 to the Appiano, Italy native's 10.5, Henri reclaimed silver by the fifth shot and continued pressuring Zublasing until the end.
Heading into the final shot, the Breuberg, Germany native trailed Zubalsing by 0.9, which was not an insurmountable lead. Once the command to fire was given, the finalists began shooting downrange. Junghanel's scoreboard lit up with a 10.5 - a solid shot!
One by one the other shooters recorded their final shots, except Zublasing. The West Virginia shooter was taking her time; waiting for the shot she wanted. Everything slowed down. The entire crowd was watching. Henri could pull out the win if Petra shot a 9.6 or lower.
The silence was broken with the sound of Petra's rifle firing. A 10.1 came up next to her name. The crowd began to applaud and Petra brought her hand to her face in a sigh of relief. 688.3 to 687.8. She'd done it.
Zublasing, who won last year's Air Rifle Championship, was the first Mountaineer to take the smallbore title since 1997. West Virginia went on to win the national championship that year. Will history repeat itself 16 years later? It's possible.
Texas Christian University is the current overall leader and winner of the Team Smallbore Championship with a 2317. But the field is close this year. Very close. One point behind and tied for second are University of Alaska-Fairbanks and West Virginia University. Behind them by one, in fourth, is the University of Kentucky. Any one of these teams could walk away a winner today.
The Air Rifle Championships have just two relays today due to the larger accommodations of Ohio State's French Field House. Remember, you can watch the action in real-time at NCAA Live.