Liu's perfect finish pulls Wolverines ahead of Clemson University
Columbus, Georgia - Today's Air Rifle title at the NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championships started out like any other. After their preparation period, 54 shooters looked ten meters down range at their targets and began the 60-shot match. A match that would determine both the team and individual champion.
Competitors received an hour and forty-five minutes to shoot their pellets in six strings of ten shots. Some finished quickly, others took their time.
Clemson University, winners of the 2010 and 2011 Air Rifle titles, posted a 2201 out of 2400 and appeared to be on their way to a third victory, but the match was not quite over.
One of the shooters who patiently used their allotted time was Ying Yi Liu, a junior at the University of Michigan.
Having shot strings in the mid to upper 90s, Liu began to take her last ten shots as the match approached its time limit.
Focusing only on the shot at hand, Liu stopped periodically to ask the range officer how much time remained. During one of these pauses she noticed a crowd had silently gathered nearby.
Looking back at her score, Liu noticed something - her eight previous shots were all tens.
She had never shot a clean 100 before in a match, but there were two shots left. It wasn't over yet.
"I got nine tens yesterday during practice but my last shot ended up being a 9.9," Liu said. "I knew it was possible and hoped I could do it today."
Clearing her mind and taking control of her breathing, Liu squeezed off her ninth shot - ten.
The crowd, remaining silent, grew exited with anticipation. Liu was the last shooter on the line. Coaches, competitors and spectators all came to see if she could shoot the clean string.
Motioning for the range officer, she asked again how much time was left. He told her the match was about to end.
As if the pressure of trying to reach this goal for her own personal record wasn't enough, she had a large crowd behind her and was now in a race against the clock.
One thing Liu didn't have to worry about, however, was the team title. With her seventh shot, Liu had brought Michigan to a tie with the Tigers and had now moved them to a ten point lead with this recent shot. No matter what she scored next, Michigan had clenched Air Rifle.
The individual championship was another matter. Brandon Godbout from North Dakota State University currently sat in first with a 571, but Liu had a 565 and one shot left. Obviously a ten would be great, but she could still win her first title as long as she didn't fire under a seven.
Liu was tense. The crowd was tense. I was tense. Time was running out and Liu still had to take one more shot.
Clearing her mind again and focusing on her goal, Liu fired - ten.
The roar of the crowd was tremendous and the match's timer went off seconds later.
Liu had done it. She came through to help Michigan win its first Air Rifle Championship on her second-to-last shot. She won her first individual title with her last shot. And she had shot a personal best perfect string.
Tomorrow the University of Michigan heads into the Smallbore Championship with a 20 point lead for the overall title and Liu holds a four point lead for the individual championship. The final match of the final day starts at 9:00 AM sharp tomorrow.
|2013 NRA Intercollegiate Air Rifle Individual Championship
||Ying Yi Liu
|2013 NRA Intercollegiate Air Rifle Team Championship
||University of Michigan
||Penn State University