Collegiate Rifle Teams gunning for a chance at the Championships in Kentucky
7th ranked Army's NCAA Qualifier was Senior Day for Richard Calvin, Joseph Todaro, Michael Matthews and Zachary Wells - image from @Army_Rifle
- March Madness is officially kicking off this weekend as teams around the nation raise their rifles for a shot at qualifying for the 2014 NCAA Rifle Championships in Murray, Kentucky. With events in Fort Worth, West Point, Lexington, and Columbus, the qualifying events are the first step in earning one of eight invitations to the big dance in Kentucky.
Though competitions are taking place all throughout the nation this weekend, most of the rifle world is zeroed in on Murray State's Pat Spurgin Rifle Range where top ranked West Virginia joins #4 Nebraska and #5 Jacksonville State in their push for the overall prize.
“We head into qualifiers in good standing [being] in fourth place,” Nebraska Coach Stacy Underwood said to NU Media. “I am excited for the weekend as this team continues to amaze me with the passion they have for competing. They have trained hard all year and are in the perfect place mentally to compete this weekend.”
Posting winning totals at an NCAA Qualifier isn't a golden ticket to the championship round. That's only half the battle. The other half comes from the team's top three scores from three different locations … thus negating any home field advantage. The opposite is true for individual shooters. Their fate rests with their trigger finger this weekend. In other words it's all or nothing come sundown.
At Murray State, West Virginia fell 25 point short of last year's score and finished with a total aggregate of 4691. Led by sophomore Garrett Spurgeon and his 586 in smallbore, their overall count should be more than enough to gain entry to the title round.
In Fort Worth, Texas Christian University (TCU) edged by Air Force with final total of 4,660 while Army's Joseph Todaro and his 583 led the Black Knights to a 4657 win over SUNY-Maritime and USP in West Point.
Most venues are running a two-day event given the shortage of firing lanes at the host range.
The NCAA will make announce the official invitations on Thursday.