RIFLE SEASON RECAP
May 3, 2010
On February 28, 2010, the Academy's rifle team concluded the regular season at the Aloha Invitational Matches (AIM) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Throughout the year, the team had several highs and lows that accumulated into a 7-11 season record after competing against some of the country's toughest nationally ranked teams. 2010 was the Falcons' best season finish since Launi Meili took over as the head coach. Meili has brought the team a long way in the three years that she's been at Air Force. The following is a recap of the 2010 season.
The team started the season off in Lincoln, Neb., in October 2009, with two losses to Nebraska and West Virginia. The Huskers won the first match, 4,629-4,614, and the Mountaineers won, 4,655-4,587.
Against Nebraska, junior Tom Chandler was the highest scorer in the match with a 581 in the smallbore and a 590 in air rifle. Against West Virginia, Chandler was again the Falcons' top shooter with the highest smallbore score of 582 overall, he also fired a 581 in air rifle.
In team scoring, the Falcons scored 2,304 points in smallbore and 2,310 in air rifle against Nebraska. In smallbore, Mike Seery scored 576, Kyle Phillips shot a 568 and Nick Krieger scored 579. In air rifle, Kurt Hakola had a 563 and Robert Vasquez shot a 582, while Pat Everson finished the day with a 575.
Against West Virginia, the smallbore team finished with 2,301 points, while the air rifle team scored 2,286 points. Krieger scored a 578, Phillips had a 572 and Seery a 569 in smallbore. In air rifle, Vasquez finished with 576 points, Hakola had 567 and Everson finished with 562.
Air Force hosted two matches the following weekend against Nevada-Reno and UTEP. Air Force won the matches, 4,612-4,586-4,579. Air Force won the smallbore three-position match with 2,294 points and finished with 2,318 in air rifle.
Chandler was the smallbore high scorer with 581/600 points and Seery was ranked second with 580 points. Chandler had AFA's highest score in the air rifle with 585 points. Everson and Hakola followed with 581 points each.
In smallbore, Everson placed fourth with an aggregate score of 571, Krieger followed with a score of 568 and Phillips finished ninth with 565 points. In air rifle, both Everson and Hakola shared sixth place with 581 points each. Vasquez (10th) scored 578 points and Phillips (11th) finished with 574 points.
In November, Air Force finished third at the All-Service Academies (President's Trophy) match in West Point, NY. Army won the event with 5,789/6,000 points. Navy followed with 5,784, Air Force (5,781) and the Coast Guard (5,164). In the four-man NCAA format, Air Force reported the highest overall team scores in the two disciplines, with 2301 points in smallbore and 2,325 in air rifle for a team total of 4,626. Army posted a 4,619 and Navy had a 4,624.
During the match, two team records were broken when Chandler had the highest aggregate air rifle score for an Air Force shooter with a 592/600 and the highest score overall of the match. He also had the highest total score of 1,178, which was previously held by Christopher Hill who scored a 1,174 in 2006. Chandler was also the Falcons' lone medalist, shooting a season-high 586 points in smallbore, just one point short of his career high.
Also shooting on Air Force's four-man NCAA lineup was Vasquesz, who fired a 588 in air rifle. Hakola had a 572 and Everson finished with a 573 in air rifle. In smallbore, Nick Krieger posted a 575. Mike Seery had a 574 and Everson finished with a 566.
Following West Point, the rifle team lost two matches against the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Air Force lost, 4,680-4,600 and 4,688-4,608.
The team's highest scorer in the first air rifle match was Chandler who shot a 587/600. In the top pairing, Chandler outshot Alaska's Cody Rutter, 100.2-96.7 in the rifle. Vasquez shot a 579, a personal best. Seery had a 572 and Everson finished with a 567. The air rifle team finished with 2,305 points. The smallbore team of Chandler (580), Everson (574), Seery (574) and Krieger (567) scored 2295 points for a combined team total of 4,600. In the second air rifle match, Chandler finished with a 591, the team's highest shooter and the third-highest shooter in the event. Vasquez scored 580 in air rifle; Everson scored a 577 and Seery had a 575. The air rifle team scored 2,323 points. In smallbore, Chandler fired a 576. Everson also had a personal best 577. Seery scored 562 points and Krieger scored 570 points. The smallbore team had 2,285 points. The Falcons' aggregate score was 4608.
In December, the team hosted Alaska-Fairbanks. In the pre-selected four-man teams, the Falcons' top shooter in the air rifle and smallbore matches was Chandler. Chandler shot a 588 in air rifle, just two points shy of Alaska's top shooter, Patrik Sartz' 590. In smallbore, Chandler shot a 579, just three points under Sartz (582).
Also in air rifle, Vasquez fired a 583, which was his highest score this season against the Nanooks. Hakola shot a 576 and Phillips added a 584 for an air rifle team total of 2,331. In the smallbore, Seery fired a 569, Everson had a 560 and Krieger fired a 568 for a team score of 2,276.
The air rifle team shot its best team score, 2331, of the season against the Nanooks; however the Nanooks out-scored the Falcons by 20 points. In smallbore three-position, the Falcons lost 2,325-2,276. The Falcons lost the match, 4,676-4,607, at the Academy rifle range. In December, the USOC was host to the 2009 Winter Air Gun Championships. Hakola and Chandler each finished within the top-10 in the 10m men's air rifle. On the first day of the Junior Men's Air Rifle competition, Hakola finished in fourth place after firing a match score of 586 with a final score of 100.6 for an overall score of 686.6 points. The next day, he finished in ninth place with a final score of 583, and on the final day, Hakola fired a match score of 582 to finish in ninth place.
On the first day of the 10m Men's Air Rifle Championships, Chandler finished in fifth place with a match score of 591 and a final score of 100.6 for an overall score of 691.6 points. The next day, he placed 22nd with a final score of 587. On the final day of competition, Chandler shot a 591 and dropped to 13th place.
In January 2010, the rifle team lost two matches to TCU at the Air Force Academy rifle range. In the first match, Air Force lost 4,656-4,599. The team scored 2,321 points in the air rifle and 2278 in the smallbore three-position matches. In the second match, Air Force lost 4,663-4,582, scoring 2,317 in air rifle and 2,265 in the smallbore three-position contests.
Vasquez was the Academy's top shooter in both air rifle matches. He scored 585/600 and finished the weekend with a 584/600 in air rifle. Two AFA marksmen vied for the Falcons' top scores in both smallbore contests. Krieger finished the match with a 573/600 and Kyle Phillips scored 571 points.
Shooting season-high scores in the air rifle were Everson, with AFA's next highest score of 582, and Kreiger with 582 points. Hakola also scored a season high with 580 points and was the team's second highest scorer in the match. Seery scored 572 and 569 points.
Following the TCU matches, the Falcons swept all three matches against North Carolina State and The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., Jan. 30-31, improving the team's season record to 6-9. The win was the team's best finish since competing in the President's Cup in November. Air Force won with 4,633 points versus North Carolina State (4,531) and The Citadel (4,449).
On both days, Chandler had the team's highest scores, with a 588 in air rifle and 581 in smallbore, and he also scored the highest with a 585 in both guns. Included in the Falcons' wins were Seery with a 566 in smallbore, Everson added 576 points and Phillips shot a 575 in the gun. In air rifle, Vasquez had a 587, Phillips fired a 579 and Hakola added 581 points to the team's 2,335 points.
In the next match, Seery fired a 565, Everson had a 573 and Phillips added 566 points for a smallbore team score of 2,289 points. In air rifle, Vasquez and Phillips both fired 583 and Hakola added 575 points to the team for 2,326 points.
In February, TCU hosted the 2010 NCAA Qualifier/NRA Sectionals on Feb. 13. The Falcons suffered a blow toward the march to the NCAAs that weekend when TCU won the NCAA Qualifier match, 4,654-4,607. The loss to TCU left Air Force just two points shy of making it to the nationals. To qualify for the championships, the NCAA committee takes three of the team's top scores from the regular season; all three of the scores must come from different venues, the qualifier being one of them.
AFA's Chandler had a strong performance as he finished with the second-best aggregate match score of 1,168 and was the Falcons' top shooter in both qualifying matches. Chandler shot a 588 in the air rifle and 580 in smallbore. The air rifle team finished the match with 2,336 points, while the smallbore team had 2,271 points for the team aggregate 4,607.
The Falcons' air rifle team consisted of Chandler (588), Everson with a score of 586, Phillips with 585 points and Vasquez' 578 who finished with a 2,336 score. The smallbore team included Chandler (580), Everson (572), Phillips (557) and Seery with 562 points and totaled 2,271 points.
In addition, shooting for Air Force were Krieger with 572 in smallbore and 586 in air rifle. Hakola had a 567 in smallbore and 573 in air rifle. Ben York scored 570 points in smallbore and 578 air rifle points.
Finally, the Falcons finished in second place against the University of Nevada and the University of San Francisco at the AIM in Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 28. Air Force shot a 2,247 and 2,230 in the air rifle match. The Wolf Pack won the match shooting a 2,251. San Francisco placed third with a score of 1,976.
The Falcons' high scores came from second-place finisher Phillips with a 566 in the air rifle match. Chris Richardson placed third with a personal-best score of 565. Seery also fired a 565. First place went to UNR's Cliff Little (574).
During the same weekend, Chandler competed in the 2010 Spring Air gun Championships, Feb. 27-28. On Day 1, Chandler was ranked fifth with a total score of 694 in the men's 10m air rifle match. Day 2, Chandler was ranked 13th with 586 points. He also competed in the World Championship Team trials. In the 10m air rifle match, Chandler finished ranked ninth with an aggregate score of 2,558.6.
Throughout the season, the Falcons were consistently at or above the 4600 mark. Air Force finished the 2010 regular season with a 7-11 season record. While several marksman finished the year with season-high scores, it was a bitter-sweet ending for the Falcons as the team finished the season without an NCAA qualifier. Although Air Force competed against some of the country's toughest and nationally ranked teams, the lost to TCU in the NCAA qualifier left the team two points shy of their goal to make it to the nationals.
In March, at the 2010 NCAA Rifle Championships, TCU (4,675 points) won in its fourth NCAA appearance; Alaska-Fairbanks was second with 4,653 points, followed by West Virginia at 4,641.
Looking ahead with no team members graduating in 2010, the Falcons' rifle team can expect to return in 2011 at full strength. Meili and the team have a lot of work ahead of them, but the continuity and consistency of the team should make for a very interesting season.