Navy Upended by Army in 2018 Rifle Star Match
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The 2018 Rifle Star Match was one for the record books on Saturday as both teams came out fast and continued to hold on to a high scoring pace at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range. After the final shot was shot, No. 14 Army came out ahead of No. 13 Navy by 19 points at 5,832-5,813. Coming into the match with a nominal statistical advantage in terms of aggregate scoring average, the host Mids were felled by a Black Knights team that surpassed their average by over 43 points. Navy also beat its pre-match average by 13 points.
Kestrel Kuhne (So., Everett, Pa.) led the Mids’ effort on Saturday as she posted an aggregate score of 1,173 to tie for high honors with the Black Knights’ Payne Nunn. The sophomore marksmen registered a match-high 582 in smallbore, while ranking second overall with a 591 in air rifle.
Saturday morning saw both teams exceed their expected averages in smallbore as Army jumped out to a nine-point lead at 2,893-2,884. Kuhne tallied with a match-high 582-point result that was nearly six points above her season average. Shooting 10 points over his average, senior team captain Thomas Sarant (Massapequa, N.Y.) registered a 580 to tie for third overall in the field. Daniel Enger (Fr., Walla Walla, Wash.) continued the trend with a 579 that was a four-plus point improvement. The final two counters in Navy’s five-shooter lineup were Josh Watson (Jr., Enterprise, Ala.) and Torrance Kang (Fr., Columbia, Md.), who posted respective scores of 573 and 570.
Coming out of the break, Navy looked to make its comeback. The Mids followed their plan and beat their predicted air rifle score by 13 points with a 2,929-point showing. Army saw Navy’s 2,929 and raised them 10 points for a final five-person score of 2,939 in air rifle. Once again, Kuhne was Navy’s high-scorer as the Pennsylvania native notched a 591. Enger filed in behind Kuhne with a 588 that ranked fourth overall amongst all shooters. Kang and Luke Knollinger (Fr., Valley Grove, W.Va.) tied for third in Navy’s lineup with identical 585’s. Sarant rounded out the five-counter total with a respective score of 580.
Saturday’s match used a unique scoring format in which eight shooters are listed as starters with the top-five scores counting for the final results. The setup is used to test the depth of the rival service academy programs. For NCAA-scoring purposes five-up, four-count scores were kept as well and saw Army earn a 4,671-4,653 victory.
“This was a tough loss against Army,” remarked head coach Mike Anti. “Our team shot well and fought for every point, we just came up short. I am still very proud with their performance. We posted out highest score in this match going back 13 years. Unfortunately, Army had a better day.”
Saturday’s totals were the highest in a Star Match competition for Navy since the team tallied a 5,819 in 2005, while Army’s aggregate was its highest since 2008.
Army now leads the all-time series with Navy, 46-31.
The rifle match was one of four Star competitions that Army and Navy contested on Saturday that are part of the Star Series presented by USAA.
Navy will now look ahead to its NCAA Qualifying Meet on Saturday, Feb. 17 versus John Jay. The competition in Annapolis between the Mids and Bloodhounds is set for 9 a.m. at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range.