No. 8 Nebraska at No. 1 West Virginia
Date: Saturday, Jan. 19
Start Time: 7 a.m. CST (8 a.m. EST)
Location: Morgantown, W.Va.
Venue: Mountaineer Rifle Range
The Nebraska rifle team will resume conference action this weekend, going on the road to face top-ranked West Virginia on Jan. 19 at 7 a.m. CST (8 a.m. EST). The Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) foes will square off in Morgantown, W.Va. at the Mountaineer Rifle Range as the Huskers (8-4, 2-1 GARC) aim for their ninth win this season and the Mountaineers (9-0, 4-0 GARC) attempt to stay undefeated.
Nebraska holds a 7-16 record all-time against the Mountaineers. The teams last met at the 2012 GARC Championships, where West Virginia came away with a 4,681-4,658 victory over the Big Red. The Mountaineers are in their seventh season of competition under Head Coach Jon Hammond.
Scouting the West Virginia Mountaineers
Head Coach: Jon Hammond (Seventh year)
2012-13 High Score: 4,720 (vs. Ole Miss, 11/9/12)
2012 NCAA Finish: Sixth
The West Virginia Mountaineers are currently ranked first nationally, averaging over 4,709 points per match this season. The Mountaineers are a perfect 9-0 this season and 4-0 in GARC matches. WVU has been marked throughout 2012-13 as a high-scoring team; the squad fired an NCAA-record score of 4,720 against Ole Miss on Nov. 9. West Virginia is led by senior and defending NCAA air rifle champion Petra Zublasing, who is averaging over 590 points per match in smallbore and over 595 in air rifle. The Mountaineers, who returned five letterwinners from 2011-12 this season, are led by Head Coach Jon Hammond. Hammond is 68-12 over seven seasons at West Virginia.
Nebraska Topped by Air Force in Lincoln
The Huskers tied their best team score of the season but couldn't overcome the Air Force Academy Falcons on Jan. 12, falling by a mark of 4,658-4,643. NU posted their highest score of the season since a 4,666-4,643 loss to Kentucky in October. Air Force's victory marked their highest output of the 2012-13 season.
"For it being the first match back with limited training, our team performed well," Head Coach Stacy Underwood said. "From here on out, the road only gets more challenging. In order to reach our peak potential, we are going to have to step out of our comfort zone, trust our training and believe in the possibility of what we can achieve together."
Nebraska fired its way to a score of 2,303 in smallbore, coming in slightly above the team's season average for 2012-13 (2,299.3). The team's efforts were paced by identical marks of 580 from senior Janine Dutton and freshman Denise Martin in the discipline. Martin's effort marked a new career-best for the Chewelah, Wash., native.
The Big Red added a mark of 2,340 in air rifle to bring their team total to 4,643 on the day. Freshman Alexandrea Lorentz posted a career-high 580 in air rifle for the Huskers, and senior Katelyn Woltersdorf added a career-high 585.
Nebraska Takes Aim at NCAA Championship Berth
With an 8-4 record and a No. 8 ranking nationally, the Nebraska rifle team is in strong position to qualify for their first NCAA Championship since 2010. Under the leadership of first-year head coach Stacy Underwood, the Huskers own a season average of 4,638.3 and a top-three score average of 4,642.7, placing them in the top eight nationally. NU will look for at least one more strong performances this winter to boost their three-score average before their NCAA Qualifier on Feb. 17.
NCAA Championship team berths are determined in a two-step process. The NCAA considers the three highest regular season combined scores with no more than one match at a given site. The average of those three scores is then added to the results of the team's performance at its NCAA Qualifying match. That number determines the teams that qualify for the championships, with the top eight squads earning a bid to shoot in Columbus, Ohio in March.
Up Next for the Huskers
Nebraska will head to Murray, Ky. next week to take part in the Withrow Invitational. Hosted by Murray State, the Invitational will take place over two weekends (Jan. 19 and Jan. 26), with competition starting at 7 a.m. CST (8 a.m. EST) both days. Ten teams will compete for the invitational title at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range on the Murray State University campus.
Huskers Enter Home Stretch of Season
As NU prepares for this weekend's match against the Mountaineers and next weekend's appearance at the Withrow Invitational in Murray, Ky., the Huskers will begin the final weeks of the 2012-13 season. With January coming to a close, Nebraska has just over a six weeks of competition remaining, including three weeks of postseason action. NU will also travel to the Withrow Invitational in Murray, Ky. on Jan. 27 and host Army on Feb. 9 before beginning their post
Beginning on Feb. 17, the Big Red will open postseason action with competition at their NCAA Qualifier in Murray, Ky. NU's performance there, coupled with their three-score qualifying average, will determine whether the team will make an appearance at the NCAA Championships. NU finished third at their 2012 NCAA Qualifier, firing a 4,596 at the Alaska-Fairbanks Rifle Range.
NU will journey to Oxford, Miss. the following weekend for the GARC Championships on Feb. 22-23. NU has a breakout performance at the 2012 conference championship, posting a 4,658 to take third place behind West Virginia and Kentucky. The Huskers will try to achieve a similar result this season, squaring off against West Virginia, Kentucky, Army, Ole Miss, Memphis and NC State at the championship.
The season will close out at the NCAA Championships, held this season in Columbus, Ohio on March 8-9. Team selections will be announced on Feb. 20, with the nation's top eight squads earning bids to teh championship. The NCAA will fill out the field on Feb. 21, announcing individual qualifiers up to a total of 48 competitors (including shooters from qualifying teams).
Freshmen Make Strides
With half of a season of competition under their belts, the freshmen on the Nebraska rifle team have made strides in their first year with the Big Red. Alexandrea Lorentz, Marissa Major, Denise Martin and Magdalena Mical have all made improvements in the first part of their season and have competed for spots in the NU lineup.
Lorentz has shown her capability as an individual competitor in NU's meets this season, holding the fifth-highest average in smallbore at 568.3. A competitor from West Anchorage High School and the Borealis Bullseyes, Lorentz contributed to team finishes of second in 2010 and fifth in 2012 at the Junior Olympics in the Precision Team Championship.
Arriving at Nebraska from the Arvada Rifle and Pistol Club in Arvada, Colo., Major has continued to adjust to the competition level of collegiate rifle. She shot her best score of the season against Air Force on Nov. 17, firing a 578 in air rifle en route to a combined score of 1,145. Major finished first in the NRA Junior Three-Position Air Rifle Precision competition before joining Nebraska.
Martin has been a crucial part of Nebraska's declared competitive team, earning a pair of individual titles in the Huskers' upset of Alaska-Fairbanks early in the season. A three-time Washington state champion and a member of the USA Shooting team at the 2010 International Shooting Sports Federation Junior World Championships, Martin is Nebraska's No. 2 shooter in combined scoring average (1,158.9) and air rifle (584.7). Martin became only the second Husker this season to break the 590 mark in air rifle on Nov. 11 at Ohio State.
Mical had her breakthrough performance of the season on Nov. 17 against Air Force, firing her way to marks of 578 in smallbore and 589 in air rifle for a combined total of 1,167. That score was good to give Mical her first combined title as a Husker. Mical finished first in smallbore at the 2011 Florida Junior Olympic Qualifier and was a 2011 Junior Olympic National qualifier as well as the 2010 Florida Metric Prone State Champion.
Nebraska Appears at No. 8 in Latest Rankings
The Huskers dropped one spot to No. 8 nationally in the latest CRCA rankings, released on Tuesday. The list, which is compiled based on the top-three score average of each team, saw West Virginia maintain its No. 1 ranking this week. The 8-4 Huskers boast wins over seven top-20 teams, including Alaska-Fairbanks, Ole Miss, Nevada, NC State, Ohio State and UTEP.
The top four nationally saw no movement since the intersession break ranking, with West Virginia taking the top spot and TCU (No. 2), Kentucky (No. 3) and Alaska-Fairbanks (No. 4) close behind. Army slid up one spot into the top five nationally, while Jacksonville State fell back to No. 6. Other GARC teams appearing in the rankings include No. 10 Memphis, No. 11 Mississippi, No. 14 NC State.
Stacy Underwood Named Nebraska Rifle Coach
The Nebraska rifle program entered a new era on May 24, 2012 as the team announced former Husker shooter Stacy Underwood as its new head coach. Underwood arrived at Nebraska after spending five years as an assistant coach under Coach Harry Mullins at Kentucky. During her time at Kentucky, Underwood helped the Wildcats to a 48-8 record and five top-five NCAA finishes. UK won the 2011 NCAA Championship while adding one GARC Championship title and two GARC regular-season crowns during Underwood's tenure. Underwood also assisted in the development of 26 All-Americans while at Kentucky.
Prior to her coaching career, Underwood competed for the Nebraska rifle team from 2003 to 2007. She was a four-year letterwinner for NU and a two-time NRA All-American. Underwood was named the GARC Senior of the Year in 2007 and also earned All-GARC honors in air rifle and combined. A team captain in 2004-05, she helped the Huskers to a third-place NCAA finish that season and a fifth-place finish in 2007.
Underwood graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2007, earning a bachelor's degree in education. She added a master's degree in kinesiology and health promotion from Kentucky in 2009.