Oct. 24, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Coming off a 4624-4367 win over Coast Guard in its lone home match of the fall season last week, the Army rifle team faces its toughest challenge when it takes on four-time defending Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) champion and defending NCAA champion West Virginia at the WVU Rifle Range Saturday with an 8 a.m. start.
The Black Knights, rated No. 12 in the latest Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association poll, are 2-1 on the season and 1-1 in the GARC. The No. 5 Mountaineers, who were idle last week, are 2-0 and 1-0 in the GARC following a 4656-4650 defeat of conference rival Nebraska on Oct. 13.
The Mountaineers, ranked first in the CRCA's preseason poll, trail GARC rival Kentucky, rated No. 2 in the latest rankings with Alaska Fairbanks holding down the No. 1 spot. Jacksonville State is third followed by TCU with Air Force, tied with West Virginia for fifth place.
Army shows a 3472.5 season average with its top score of 4640 recorded in the season opening win over Ole Miss, but finished 14 and 12 points below that mark in its next two meets, respectively, to slip out of the top 10 in the latest CRCA poll. The Black Knights are averaging 2298 points in smallbore and 2332 in air rifle following season bests of 2304 and 2336, respectively.
Two-time senior All-American Michael Matthews scored Army's season-high 584 in smallbore against Ole Miss with senior All-American Richard Calvin and freshman Marvin Lewis sharing the top score in air rifle of 588 fired against Memphis and Coast Guard, respectively.
A strong showing against West Virginia could move Army back into the top 10 teams in the country, but the Black Knights cannot afford a let down in that meet as the Mountaineers show a season average of 4656.5 with a 2352.5 in air rifle and 2304 mark in smallbore.
West Virginia suffered losses in smallbore in both its meets with air rifle the winning margin in those decisions. The Black Knights trail the Mountaineers' smallbore average by just six points the smallbore and Army's season-high 2304 is three points shy of the Mountaineers top score. Though Army has depth in air rifle, West Virginia is the defending NCAA champion in that event, but graduation claimed the Mountaineers' top shooter in Petra Aublasing, who swept last year's NCAA titles in both events.
Following Saturday's meet, Army leaves the dual circuit to compete at the President's Trophy Match hosted by Navy next week. The Black Knights will be looking to reclaim the title after host Air Force snapped their three-year reign last year.