Navy Dominates NCAA Qualifying Match with 4,673 Points
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy rifle team had an outstanding performance on Saturday in the program’s 2018 NCAA Qualifying Match versus John Jay. Coming into the contest ranked 14th in the nation, the Mids put forth a near season-best effort that put them right in the thick of the conversation for a top-eight standing and potential bid to next month’s NCAA Championship. Navy totaled 4,673 points on its way to a 4,673-4,420 victory.
Saturday's match score counts as one half of the team's total in the NCAA Championship qualification process. The other half comes from an average of three matches shot previously this season at different locations. The NCAA then adds the two scores together and the top eight teams will qualify for the championship on the weekend of March 9-10. Navy came into Saturday ranked 14th overall with a three-match average of 4,660. With the Mids’ 4,673 versus the Bloodhounds, their qualifying score is 9,333. As of press time, they ranked seventh overall and had surpassed the University of Nevada, Jacksonville State and North Carolina State, all teams that came into the weekend ahead of the Mids. Alaska, Murray State and Nebraska had yet to finish shooting and all came into the weekend top-six in the standings so Navy could be pushed out of contention by that trio.
The Mids got off to a fast start in smallbore with a four-counter score of 2,314, the team’s third-best mark of 2017-18. Kestrel Kuhne (So., Everett, Pa.) led the way with a career-best 587-point effort. Dropping only 13 total points in the competition, the sophomore shot a near perfect 198 of 200 in the prone position. She was followed in the standings by Daniel Enger (Fr., Walla Walla, Wash.) and Torrance Kang (Fr., Columbia, Md.), who turned in 579 and 575-point results, respectively. Navy’s final counter on Saturday was Josh Watson (Jr., Enterprise, Ala.) and his 573.
After that strong first half of competition, Navy’s air rifle lineup upped its performance level even more to the tune of 2,359 points. Kang was the top scorer amongst the Mids’ air rifle shooters with a 593. The first-year collegiate shooter aced the first and fourth runs with perfect 10-for-10 shooting, while dropping just one point on the third and sixth runs. This was Kang’s seventh air rifle shoot with 590 or more points. A career-high 590 by Enger was the second-best score for Navy on Saturday. Thomas Sarant (Sr., Massapequa, N.Y.) and Kuhne rounded out the Mids’ lineup with respective totals of 589 and 587. As a non-starter, Watson shot a season-high 588 in air rifle.
“We had a really good match today with some really great individual performances,” remarked Navy head coach Mike Anti. “Kestrel Kuhne had a phenomenal smallbore score and will probably make the NCAA Championships. Also Torrance led the team in airgun with a score that has a chance for qualification to the NCAA meet. I am really proud of all of our athletes, who all shot their average or better.”
Navy’s 4,673 was their second-best score of 2017-18 and sixth match in the last seven between 4,653 and 4,683 points.
At the conclusion of all this weekend’s NCAA Qualifying Matches, Navy will learn its fate for the 2018 NCAA Championship. Following that team announcement, the NCAA will release the names of individual competitors, who earned their way into the national meet.
Navy’s next action will come at West Virginia University next weekend with the Great American Rifle Conference Championship. The multi-day event starts on Friday, Feb. 23 and goes through Feb. 25.