Wolverines take second Rifle Club title in a row after strong Smallbore and Air Rifle performances
Columbus, Georgia - The University of Michigan Wolverines won their second consecutive NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship yesterday at Fort Benning, Georgia, after shooting a combined smallbore and air rifle score of 4404.
Michigan has now won three of five national titles since the NRA Rifle Club Championships' creation in 2010. North Dakota State University placed second and Clemson University finished third.
The Wolverines established a strong, practically insurmountable 60-point lead after shooting a 2146 in Saturday's Smallbore Championship. Entering the final day's Air Rifle Championship, Michigan was determined not to relinquish their lead, no matter how large, and sealed their victory with a 2258.
"I'm extremely proud of my shooters," said Coach Michael O'Connor. "They all worked so hard and pushed each other to reach the championships' qualifying scores."
The camaraderie among Michigan's shooters isn't just developed on the firing line. Between the half hour drives to and from their range and the team building exercises held in the off-season, the team really gets to know one another and works hard to become the best shooters they can be.
Talent runs deep in the Michigan roster, and they'll need it next year when they're forced to replace six spots due to graduating seniors. But O'Connor has confidence the team can step up and be just as competitive, even through the graduating teammates will be missed.
"There are some freshmen and sophomores that need a tiny bit more to reach the level of our current seniors," he said. "Their goal is to shoot this same score next year, and I think they can do it."
Not all of the seniors are going to disappear, though. Team President Tyler Hughes will start a job with the University of Michigan after graduating and plans to return to the team as an assistant coach.
After enjoying their time in the limelight during yesterday evening's awards ceremony, the Wolverines hit the road with their new trophy for the 15-hour drive back to Ann Arbor. Congratulations, Michigan.