Navy Shoots a 2326 on Final Day of GARC Championship
AKRON, Ohio - The Navy rifle team completed the two-day Great American Rifle Conference Championship on Saturday with a 2326-point effort in air rifle. Combined with the program's 2295 points on Friday during smallbore, it placed ninth overall with 4621 points. Amongst a tightly-grouped field of nationally-ranked teams shooting at Akron's Louis and Freda Stile Athletics Fieldhouse, the Mids finished within nine points of sixth place.
"This was a similar story to yesterday in that the first group struggled before we came out in the next relay with a strong performance," remarked head coach Bill Kelley. "Overall, it was a decent showing for the team today. We just were left searching for that fourth strong score.
"It was very close starting the day and competitive throughout. We definitely had an opportunity to be in the mix at the end, but just came up a little short."
Navy's air rifle lineup on Saturday consisted of Thomas Sarant (Jr., Massapequa, N.Y.), Nash Richardson (So., Rhodesdale, Md.) in the second relay of the day and Daniel Jonas (Sr., Allentown, N.J.), Kestrel Kuhne (Fr., Everett, Pa.) and Josh Watson (So., Enterprise, Ala.) in the third relay.
The Mids' competition on Saturday began with 574 and 571-point efforts by Richardson and Sarant, respectively. In the next set of shooters, Jonas and Watson tied for second best on the squad with identical 583 scores. Kuhne led Navy's effort in air rifle with a result of 586. Overall, amongst 78 competitors, Kuhne's score ranked 26th overall.
In the two-day event, Kuhne and Jonas tied for top individual scoring honors on Navy with respective aggregate scores of 1163. Watson finished three points behind with an aggregate of 1160. Kuhne's mark was a new career-high.
"For the entire championship, Kuhne, Jonas and Watson were very consistent and turned in solid results for us," said Kelley. "I'm very proud of the way those three competed throughout."
West Virginia took the 2017 GARC Championship title with a wire-to-wire win as the Mountaineers turned a 30-point lead in smallbore into an eventual 46-point victory with an aggregate score of 4725. Nebraska (4679), Kentucky (4667) and N.C. State (4660) finished second, third and fourth before Army (4649) came in fifth. Navy came down the stretch in direct competition with Akron (4630), Memphis (4629) and Ole Miss (4624).
Saturday's competition marks the completion of Navy's 2016-17 season. The GARC Championships were the final event in Jonas' decorated career. The two-time all-league honoree led the program in aggregate scoring in all four years of his time with the Midshipmen. Team captain Brandon Pippin (Sr., Nashville, Tenn.) will also depart the program and graduate from the Naval Academy this May.
West Virginia - 4725 Points
Nebraska - 4679
Kentucky - 4667
N.C. State - 4660
Army - 4649
Akron - 4630
Memphis - 4629
Ole Miss - 4624
Navy - 4621