Oct. 15, 2012
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. - The Air Force Academy rifle team opened the regular season this weekend matched up against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of Akron on Friday, Oct. 12. No. 1-ranked West Virginia joined the action on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Lt. Hugh W. Wylie Range at Ohio State University. Finishing 4-1 overall (AFA's best season opener in six years), Air Force was the overall match winner on Friday with a score of 4625. On Saturday, Air Force finished second with a 4690-4619 loss to WVU.
On Friday, Ohio State and Akron both split into two squads for the event. OSU Scarlet placed second with a score of 4583 and Akron Gold placed third with a score of 4559. OSU Grey (4521) and Akron Blue (4516) rounded out the team scoring.
On Saturday the Air Force team added the West Virginia Mountaineers, who are currently ranked first in the College Rifle Coaches Association Poll, to the team matches along with the Buckeyes and Akron. WVU was the overall match winner with a score of 4690, followed by Air Force (4619), OSU Scarlet (4594), Akron Gold (4571), OSU Grey (4531) and Akron Blue (4514).
Leading the way on Friday for Air Force was freshman David Higgins, as the individual high scorer with 577 points in smallbore. Individually, freshman Kevyn Stinett had a 559, senior Matthew Kluckman and sophomore Craig O'Daniel both finished with 570 points. Air Force's smallbore (NCAA) squad which consisted of sophomore Meredith Carpentier, who had the second-highest score of 574, freshmen Tyler Rico (573) Kyle Jameson (569), and senior Ben York (568), compiled 2284 points.
In air rifle, Air Force posted the top three scores. Rico had the squad's highest score of the match (592), Stinett had the next highest score with 585 points and York scored 584 points. Higgins' 580 points rounded out the squad's 2341 score for the team's total (4625). Individual scorers were Carpentier (580), O'Daniel (580) and Kluckman (568).
On Saturday, the smallbore (NCAA) squad of Carpentier, Rico, Higgins and York finished with a 2291 aggregate. Carpentier scored a 575, while Rico (574), Higgins (571) and York rounded out the total with 571 points. Individually, O'Daniel was the Air Force individual leader in smallbore with 580 points and Jameson had a 568, while Stinett scored 565 points.
The team leaders for the air rifle (NCAA) squad were Rico, Carpentier, Higgins and Stinett adding 2328 points to the team's total. Rico was the individual leader with 592 points followed by Carpentier with 582 points, Higgins' 581 and Stinett's 573 points. Individually, York scored a 568, while Kluckman had a 584, Jameson had a 575 and O'Daniel finished with 564 points in the match.
Overall, Air Force won Friday's smallbore and air rifle matches with 2284 and 2341 points (4625), respectively. On Saturday, Air Force took second place in both smallbore (2291) and air rifle (2328) for a team total (4619). The team scores are season bests for the Falcons. Air Force is 4-1 starting off the season and has the best start to the season in six years.
This weekend's results were some of the team's highest scores in six years. According to coach Meili, the team was excited to start shooting regular season matches this weekend, especially since other schools have already started their regular season. The team has been shooting very competitively in practice and Meili predicted a good outcome from this weekend's matches. The coach also expected that the match against West Virginia was going to be their toughest match of the season.
"This first weekend gave us an indication of where we stack up in the country and gave us an idea of what we need to work on," said Meili. "Our returning shooters are continuing to improve their scores and our freshmen have been setting personal bests in practice almost every time they shoot."
If this weekend's results are an indication of what is to come in future matches, Meili should be right on in her predictions and expectations.
The rifle team is in El Paso on Oct. 27 to shoot a match against UTEP. Air Force will also compete on Oct. 28 against Nevada at the UTEP rifle range. The team will host the All Academies (President's Cup) on Nov. 3-4. Air Force hosts Nebraska and UTEP on Nov. 17-18.