In college basketball, there are a few storied university programs that stand above the rest, like Duke, Kentucky and UCLA. But when it comes to NCAA Rifle, the West Virginia Mountaineers always seem to be in the mix when the national championship is on the line.
This past weekend, the West Virginia University rifle team won its 15th NCAA national title—the most by any collegiate program—in matches held at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, beating second-place Kentucky by nine points in the aggregate scoring.
Defending champion Texas Christian University finished third. The Mountaineers' two-day total—4,679—is the second highest in NCAA Rifle Championship history, bettered only by Kentucky's title-winning 4,700 in 2011.
Mountaineer senior Petra Zublasing led with way, posting the top overall individual score in both Friday's .22-caliber smallbore competition and Saturday's air rifle competition. She also swept both disciplines' individual titles.
The smallbore competition features 20 shots each from prone, standing and kneeling positions at a distance of 50 feet. The top eight shooters from Friday's three back-to-back relays advanced to the individual smallbore finals, which Zublasing won with a score of 688.3.
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 is the first shooter to win both NCAA titles at one championship since Alaska-Fairbanks' Matthew Emmons took the top spots in 2001.
Zublasing shot for Italy in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
"Petra is world-class," said West Virginia head coach Jon Hammond, himself a former Mountaineer who competed during the 2002-03 season and still shoots on the international level. "She's simply one of the best in the world, and to have someone like that makes NCAA competition better. But to have someone like that on your team is huge. She makes everyone on the team better."
Final Standings and Aggregate Scoring
|West Virginia University||4,679|
|University of Kentucky||4,670|
|Texas Christian University||4,664|
|University of Alaska||4,661|
|U.S. Air Force Academy||4,658|
|U.S. Military Academy||4,644|
|University of Nebraska||4,643|
|Jacksonville State University||4,621|
(Photo: West Virginia University Sports)