Navy Opens GARC Championship with Strong Smallbore Result
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 10 Navy rifle team opened the two-day Great American Rifle Conference Championship on Saturday with an excellent smallbore performance that sees the squad sitting in third place with 2,315 points. Shooting at the Bill McKenzie Rifle Range inside the WVU Shell Building, the Mids posted their third highest smallbore score of 2017-18 and trail just West Virginia and Kentucky, the nation’s first and fourth ranked teams, in the team standings.
The day one standings see the host Mountaineers in first place with 2,333 points ahead of the Wildcats, who tallied 2,319 points. The Mids’ 2,315 points are seven ahead of the No. 15 North Carolina State Wolfpack (2,308) and nine in front of the No. 8 Nebraska Huskers (2,306). Rounding out the nine teams at the championship event are No. 12 Army (2,293), No. 16 Akron (2,292), No. 13 Memphis (2,291) and No. 9 Ole Miss (2,289).
Navy’s counting lineup on Saturday was led by freshman Daniel Enger (Walla Walla, Wash.), who recorded a career-high 585. Prior the championship event, the first-year collegiate had broken the 580-point milestone at the President’s Trophy Match (Nov. 4) with a 583 and versus North Carolina State (Jan. 21) with a 581. Enger’s total was tied with Kentucky’s Hanna Carr for second-best amongst the 73 competitors on Saturday.
Josh Watson (Jr., Enterprise, Ala.) followed in his plebe teammate in Navy’s lineup with a score of 582 that tied him for seventh overall in the field. The Mids’ second highest average scorer in the regular season with a 575.3 mark had bested the 580 mark three times in 2017-18 before Saturday’s performance.
Torrance Kang (Fr., Columbia, Md.) and Kestrel Kuhne (So., Everett, Pa.) posted Navy’s final two counting scores with respective results of 575 and 573. In the individual standings, Kang ranked in a tie for 21st, while Kuhne placed 29th.
The efforts of Enger and Watson qualified both for the individual finals for the smallbore title. After a series of precision-based championship rounds, Enger finished fourth overall with 432.0 points. Watson came in two positions back in sixth with 404.9 points. West Virginia’s Ginny Thrasher, a 2016 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist won the individual title with 454.8 points.
In the five years of Navy competing at the GARC Championship, Enger and Watson were the first Mids to ever finish top-eight and compete in the individual finals. Saturday was also the first time that Navy had surpassed the 2,300-point mark in the smallbore portion of the championship. The previous high score for Navy at the event was a 2,295 at the 2017 meet.
The Mids will close the competition on Sunday with the air rifle event. The first shooters will step to the line beginning at 8 a.m.