Navy Closes Regular Season at VMI
LEXINGTON, Va. – The Navy rifle team wrapped up its 2017-18 regular season on Sunday as one of four teams shooting at VMI’s Kilbourne Hall. Looking to replace one of its previous road scores for the NCAA Championship qualification process, the Mids were unable to hit their stride as they ended up settling for an aggregate total of 4,624. Amongst the four teams shooting at VMI, Air Force tallied a score of 4,691, Akron a 4,638 and VMI a 4,465.
Navy’s effort on Sunday was spearheaded by the duo of Luke Knollinger (Fr., Valley Grove, W.Va.) and Kestrel Kuhne (So., Everett, Pa.), who recorded matching aggregate scores of 1,161. Knollinger’s two-gun total was buoyed by a team-high 578 in smallbore, while Kuhne posted the second-best smallbore and air rifle scores, respectively at 577 and 584.
The Mids’ competition began with a smallbore counting score of 2,285. During Navy’s recent streak of high-level output since the calendar year turned to 2018 the Mids had reached the 2,300-point mark in each of their prior five matches, unfortunately for the team on Sunday they were unable to find that next gear. Amongst their counting lineup, Kuhne was the top scoring Mid at 577. Josh Watson (Jr., Enterprise, Ala.) ranked second on Navy with a 572-point result before Torrance Kang (Fr., Columbia, Md.) and Thomas Sarant (Sr., Massapequa, N.Y.) closed the Mids’ scoring with respective totals of 569 and 567. As a non-starter, Knollinger came through with a 578, the second-best smallbore score of his career and nearly eight points above his season average coming into the match.
Navy’s air rifle lineup performed near the team’s season average and notched 2,339 points on Sunday. Kang turned in another high caliber performance as she scored 591 points. The freshman sharpshooter has now scored 588 or more points in eight of 11 matches, including six scores of 590-plus. Kuhne netted Navy 584 points, while Knollinger came in one point back at 583. The Mids’ final air rifle score came from Daniel Enger (Fr., Walla Walla, Wash.), who tallied a 581.
“We had a challenging day at the range today, but did have a few bright spots and had a few athletes finish up strong after a rough start,” remarked head coach Mike Anti. “Torrance led the team in air rifle and Luke had the high score in smallbore. There was some strong shooting from our freshmen today."
Navy will now turn its attention to its 2018 NCAA Qualifying Match versus John Jay on Saturday, Feb. 17. Shooting at the Bancroft Hall Rifle Range, Navy will attempt to jump into the top eight of the NCAA rankings. Currently sitting 14th overall, the qualifying match allows teams to combine their three regular season qualifying scores with that one individual score to slot the nation’s eight best teams for March’s NCAA Championship. The first shot between the Mids and Bloodhouds is scheduled for 9 a.m.