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NRA Intercollegiate Rifle Club National Championship Recap


The Michigan Rifle Team qualified a large contingent for Nationals in February by shooting a minimum qualifying score in the Intercollegiate Sectional Match hosted by the University of Michigan.  Of the 21 MRT members that qualified, 20 attended the match.

Friday, practice day at Ft. Benning went very well and everyone got to familiarize themselves with the ranges, especially for the first time attendees.  To add some humor for the day one MRT member accidentally shot out a light bulb on the air rifle range, the ribbing continued all weekend but was taken with good spirits.  We heard University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is making a special trophy to be presented to our infamous MRT member sometime in the near future!  The weather was pleasant if not a bit too hot for us northerners but a nice relief from Michigan’s cold and windy March weather.  Everyone filled out and turned in their individual entry cards and paperwork for the team.

Saturday morning everyone got to the range early, we left plenty of time to get through security to get on base since one student forgot to bring ID.  After answering numerous questions and watching the guard go through some animation and humorous facial contortions he gave us a vehicle pass.  Smallbore was a team disaster, nerves and a few mistakes took their toll on the team score.  The team fired a 2080 smallbore score, 87 points below our season average (2167) and 96 points below our team sectional score (2176).  What should have been an easy victory for 1st place turned into a disappointing fourth place finish behind WVU 2116, Clemson 2099 and Penn State 2084.  Silver linings for smallbore were five personal bests fired by Elizabeth Harty 533, Hunter Benitez 473, Megan Chen 521, Isabel Cusack 474 and Jerry St. James 519.

Luckily we got the same guard on Sunday morning’s trip to the range so we didn’t have to repeat the question and answer process.  Spirits were down on the team but everyone got down to business and prepared for the match.  Having such a large representation at the match, MRT was split between the 2 relays for air rifle.  Our team scoring members were all shooting on relay 1 while WVU, Clemson and Penn State were all firing on relay 2.  MRT shot great scores for air rifle, led by Ying Yi’s 576, Aaron’s 568, Anne’s 563 and Elizabeth’s 561 (another personal best).  Our team score stood at 2268, five points higher than our season average and 10 points below our sectional qualifying score.  Relay 2 took the line and we got to watch a total of 10 MRT members’ fire personal bests.  Besides Elizabeth’s 561, Megan 544, Rohit 506, Rolf 509, Travis 488, Isabel 533, Amanda 527, Windy 545, Jerry 550 and Jay 521 were all personal best scores.

It was apparent early in the air rifle match that Penn State was not going to beat our team score and that Michigan would at least move up to third place overall but what were WVU and Clemson doing?  With some strong scores being fired by both teams it wasn’t over but could MRT move up the podium even more?  WVU finished firing with a 2247 air rifle and Clemson with a 2252 air rifle neither beating Michigan’s 2268.  MRT wins the Air Rifle National Championship!

The overall (aggregate) championship went to WVU with a 4363 followed by Clemson with a 4351 and Michigan captured third with a 4348.  While it was not the results MRT wanted and should have achieved, MRT took home another National Championship as well as a third and fourth place finish.

Other accolades included Ying Yi Liu, Anne Sullivan and Aaron Ward all making All-Star teams, the top collegiate shooters based on the average score between Sectionals and Nationals.  Ying and Anne made the All-Star team for each of their 4 years of collegiate shooting!  Also, Mike O’Connor was named the Distinguished Coach of the Year, the second year in a row it was awarded to Mike and a club team coach!