After the first relay of Saturday's air rifle event, West Virginia and TCU were neck and neck in the quest for an NCAA rifle championship. The Mountaineers, who had just posted a score of 1782, led TCU by a single point when Ginny Thrasher and Milica Babic came out to shoot for the second relay.
Babic, who is just a freshman, came through when her teammates needed her most and posted a score of 598, the highest any shooter scored in the air rifle competition. So how did she keep cool under the duress of being in a tightly contested tournament with the Horned Frogs? By simply focusing on the task at hand and the things that she could control.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't even look at the scores," said Babic. "For me it's just about every shot and being present. Every shot matters and I just tried to go through one by one and at the end I just let everything come to me."
It's something that head coach Jon Hammond preaches regularly and shorlty afterwards the freshman did it again when she showed the uncanny ability to brush off a loud and intense crowd while fighting for an individual national championship in the air rifle discipline. The crowd. who watched the lead switch several times, brought the intensity to a boiling point but like so many great competitors are able to do, Babic said she was able to feed off of the energy in the building.
"I try to block everything out," stated Babic. "But as you know the crowd is cheering all of the time, they're really loud and we really like their support. I have to say that feeling their emotion helps me a little bit and gets me pumped."
And the ability to do so helped her win the individual championship in dramatic fashion as she battled neck and neck with fellow Mountaineer freshman and roommate Morgan Phillips for the title. But at the end of the day, Babic seemed more focused on bringing home the team championship than her own individual accolades.
"We have worked very hard for this," said Babic. "I know all of my teammates gave it 100 percent and to shoot with three of them in the final felt like shooting at home. In the end it was a really tough final and I'm really proud of it."
"(Winning a team national championship) feels great. To win anything as a team is really important to us. We worked all year long for this and I'm really proud to win as a team."