WVU Nabs GARC Title

West Virginia University's No. 1-ranked rifle team shot 4653 over two days and finished first at the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships at the Patricia C. Lamar National Guard Readiness Center in Oxford, Miss.

The GARC title is the Mountaineers' fourth and first since 2000. All three of WVU's previous wins came when the conference was known as the Midwest-American Rifle Conference.

Junior transfer Nicco Campriani swept the individual competitions, shooting 597 (99, 100, 100, 99, 100, 99) in the open air rifle tournament and 102.8 in the finals for a winning score of 699.8. Additionally, Campriani's 597 air rifle mark, coupled with his winning 590 smallbore score from one day ago, gave the Florence, Italy, native a 1187 combined score and the overall individual title.

Campriani is the first Mountaineer to earn the GARC smallbore and air rifle titles in the same season.

No. 3-ranked Kentucky, the 2009 conference champions, finished second overall wit a score of 4645, while No. 8-ranked Nebraska shot 4612 and finished in third place.

"It's great to come back to Morgantown as the GARC champions," said fourth-year coach Jon Hammond. "This was one of our big goals at the beginning of the season, and I know the team is happy it accomplished what it set out to do."

WVU (11-0, 7-0 GARC) shot 2336 in air rifle and finished third overall. The Wildcats won the discipline with a 2348 score, while host Ole Miss shot 2344 and finished second. The Mountaineers' air rifle loss is their first discipline defeat of the season. WVU won Saturday's smallbore competition with a score of 2317.

"Ultimately, our smallbore score pulled us through this championships," Hammond explains. "We need to shoot well in both guns and can't rely on just one strong performance. This weekend's experience will serve us well as we move forward and train for the NCAA Championships."

Senior Bryant Wallizer joined Campriani in the air rifle finals, shooting 585 toward the team score and 102.2 in the finals for a seventh-place score of 687.2.

WVU's three additional counting shooters all shot 580-plus in air rifle, with juniors Andy Lamson and Tommy Santelli tallying 584 and 583, respectively, and sophomore Michael Kulbacki scoring 584.

Juniors Kyle Smith and Brandi Eskew, as well as sophomore Justin Pentz, also performed well. Smith shot 583, Pentz shot 582 and Eskew tallied 581.

Lamson and Santelli tied for fourth place overall with an aggregate score of 1165.

The tournament win completes the Mountaineers' sweep of conference titles, as the team won the 2010 regular season GARC championship by virtue of its undefeated season.

The Mountaineers now break from action for the next three weeks before defending their 14th national title at the 2010 NCAA Championships on March 12-13, in Fort Worth, Texas. WVU will likely be the #1 seed in the tournament.

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