Prediger's Near-Perfect Score Secured WVU Win

Maren Prediger is used to shooting under pressure. So, when she and the rest of the West Virginia rifle team were 12 points behind after the first day of the NCAA Championship, no one was worried.

West Virginia defeated the University of Alaska Fairbanks by the final score of 4702 to 4700 in the 2015 NCAA Rifle Championship. The championship is a two day competition, and after the end of the first day the Mountaineers were sitting in second. But after tallying scores of 598 from Prediger, 596 from Garrett Spurgeon and 594 from Ziva Dvorsak, the Mountaineers were able to complete a comeback to earn their 17th National Championship.

Prediger tallied one of the highest scores in NCAA Rifle finals history. Her 598 (out of 600) air rifle score was one of the highest individual scores in the history of the championship.

"A 598 is an awesome air rifle score. Wherever it is. Even if it's in practice," said head coach Jon Hammond. "To do it on a stage like that in a big competition is great."

Her near-perfect total (out of 600) helped seal a Mountaineer victory, but Prediger admits that she was not calm, cool and collect going into the second day. The Mountaineers faced that dozen-point deficit, which can be difficult to make up. Prediger said her angst to win made her nervous, but coach Hammond told her she didn't need to worry.

"He told me several times the last three years that whenever I was nervous, usually the air rifle score was really high after that," said Predigor. "I knew that I could do it, and he gave me the confidence to do so."

Prediger’s title is the first for an individual Mountaineer at an NCAA Championships since 2013, when Mountaineer alum Petra Zublasing won the title, also with a 598 score. West Virginia alum Nicco Campriani holds the WVU all-time high air rifle championships record with a 599 mark, which also earned him the title in 2011. Prediger finished second last year in the overall, losing by four tenths (.4) of a point.

A total of 17 team titles, including three in a row since 2012, is better than any other school in the nation, and makes WVU the dynastic power in the sport. (Alaska has the second most titles with 10.) For Prediger coming to West Virginia meant leaving a legacy and winning titles.

"I'm proud that we could fulfill the expectations that people have," said Prediger. "Every alumni wants their program to continue the way they left it. It's nice to know that we lived up to what they wanted us to do."

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