By Cam Huffman
It may not make SportsCenter or sell thousands of T-shirts at the local sporting goods store, but West Virginia University certainly has established a dynasty when it comes to its rifle team.
The Mountaineers won their nation-best 15th rifle national title Saturday at Ohio State’s French Field House, posting a two-day total of 4,679, topping Kentucky, which finished second with a score of 4,670. WVU’s point total was the second-highest in NCAA history, behind only Kentucky’s 4,700 in 2011.
“It’s a great feeling to win,” said WVU’s seventh-year head coach Jon Hammond, who also led the team to a championship in 2009. “I’m so happy for the team members, all the parents and our supporters.
“It has been a long year, and a tough couple of days here, but I’m so proud of this team and delighted at this fantastic result for us.”
The Mountaineers overcame a one-shot smallbore deficit and outshot the field in air rifle, scoring 2363. Senior Petra Zublasing was near-perfect, shooting 598 (99-100-100-100-100-99) in the second relay and 103.7 in the final to secure her second national title of the weekend, and the third of her career, with combined total of 701.7. The Appiano, Italy, native won the smallbore championship Friday with a 688.3 score. Zublasing is the first shooter to win both NCAA titles at one championship since Alaska-Fairbanks’ Matthew Emmons took the victories in 2001.
“Winning an individual title in both guns is just great, but I’m most happy that the team won,” said Zublasing. “This team worked so hard over the last two seasons, and we finally earned our award. I’m really excited to leave WVU with these wins.”
“Petra was our difference maker today,” added Hammond. “She is our team leader. The other teams’ leaders all struggled a bit today, but Petra did not. It’s incredible for her to win both individual titles this weekend and the team championship. So many records and so much history at WVU, and she’s really left her mark on the program.”
Zublasing is the second WVU student-athlete to win three career national titles, as wrestler Greg Jones earned a trio of titles in 2002, 2004 and 2005. She is the fourth Mountaineer to win two career air titles and the first since Trevor Gathman finished first in 1993 and 1996. A WVU shooter has now won the NCAA air rifle championship each season since 2011.
The WVU rifle team is the only WVU program to ever win a national championship.
— E-mail: chuffman
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.