Rifle team not blue with silver medals
The rifle team hosted an NCAA Qualifying match that included four other teams last weekend, Feb. 12-13, as they attempted to send their smallbore and air rifle teams to the NCAA Championship next month.
Shooters from Texas A&M, TCU, UTEP, Wyoming and Air Force squared off in the two-day competition that featured several noteworthy individual performances. The results of this competition will be compared to the results from qualifying matches all over the country this weekend, and the top six -- eight teams in both smallbore and air rifle will receive invitations to the NCAA Championships held at the US Olympic Training Center, March 12--13.
The UTEP Miners out shot the Falcons in both smallbore (2,309- 2,288) and air rifle (2,306- 2,297), while TCU, Texas A&M, and Wyoming were at least 80 points behind the two leaders. The Falcons' smallbore team consisted of C1C Matthew Colvin, C2C Christopher Hill, C2C Ed Gallagher and C2C Tim Siemer. The air rifle team members included Colvin, Hill, C3C Jessica Palomba and C4C Justin Raines. The Academy also fielded a second air rifle team that grabbed the bronze medal by scoring 2,276. Those members included Siemer, Gallagher, C3C Michelle Bonneau and C4C Thomas Bender.
"It's difficult to predict if we will receive an invitation," said Capt. Justin Broughton, the Falcons' head coach. "Although we were a few points below our desired total, we had several outstanding performances that give us hope. Our team captain, Matt Colvin, was especially strong in air rifle, and all of our shooters gave incredible efforts while under a lot of pressure. Chris Hill also had a great match in smallbore, and both Matt and Chris had impressive comebacks after dropping several points early on."
The smallbore event started with a bang on Saturday, as Hill scored a perfect 200/200 in the prone position to lead all shooters. However, he faltered in the standing position, shooting 186/200, several points below his season average. But he roared back with a 198/200 in the kneeling position, which helped him clinch the silver medal with an aggregate score of 584/600.
Colvin also had an amazing recovery from an early lapse when he shot 298/300 in the second half of the air rifle event, following a couple of sub-par 10-shot strings. His total of 584/600 earned him a silver medal, as well as accolades from all who witnessed the incredible comeback. "It was a magic moment," explained assistant coach, Lt Col Bill Roy, "that brought us all to our feet. It was by far the most courageous, inspiring feat I've seen all season. Matt really dug deep and pulled out a great performance."
While the Falcons wait for the NCAA to tally results from around the nation, a process that may take up to 10 days, they'll be preparing for a rematch against UTEP at home on Saturday, Feb. 26. According to Roy, "We learned a lot of lessons last week that should make us an even better team when we line up against UTEP in a couple of weeks."