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Nanook rifle holds narrow lead at NCAAs

Submitted by Tori Tragis
Phone: (907) 474-6438

03/09/07

Fairbanks, Alaska - The host Alaska Nanook rifle team found itself in an unexpectedly precarious position at the end of the first day of the NCAA National Rifle Championship at their own E.F. Horton Rifle Range. The defending champion Nanooks posted a narrow one-point lead over the Army Black Knights, 2308 to 2307, heading into Saturday's air rifle finale. Kentucky filled the third slot with a 2299.

"I've been saying all week that Kentucky and Army are our biggest competition," Alaska head coach Dan Jordan said. "We've had close matches all season against both of them."

The Nanooks sent two shooters into the finals. Seniors Christian Lejon (Umea, Sweden) and Matthias Dierolf (Uttenhofen, Germany) entered the finals in fourth and eighth place, respectively. Both shooters struggled with their last 10 shots, however. Dierolf ended the night with a 675.4 total in sixth place, ceding the number-eight slot to Lejon and a 672.4.

Navy's Josh Albright (Shelton, Conn.) won the individual title with a 679.5. Second place went to Nebraska's Kirsten Weiss (Cornwall, Penn.), who fired a 678.4, while Joseph Hall (Carollton, Ga.) of Jacksonville State hit a 677.9 for third.

Jordan was realistic about the day's events.

"Nobody shot badly but nobody shot great," the second-year coach said. "I thought at least one person would have popped out a great score and that would've put us ahead."

The combined scores of Lejon, Dierolf, Matt Rawlings (Wharton, Texas), who finished ninth, and Patrik Sartz (Stora Sundby, Sweden), who finished 19th, contributed to Alaska's team score.

The Nanooks also fielded two individual qualifiers whose scores do not count in the team standings. Layne Lewis (Fairbanks, Alaska) missed the final by one point with a 577, while a 570 from Jace Bures' (Odell, Neb.) put him 24th in a field of 37 competitors.

Jordan had a special note of commendation for Lewis.

"Layne was phenomenal," Jordan said. "He redshirted shirted last year and spent as much time on the range as anyone, if not more. This year he's paid his dues and it nice to see it come back to him."

Generally feared more for its competitiveness in air rifle than in smallbore, the Nanooks plan to return to championship form with Rawlings, Sartz, Lejon and Dierolf. Becky Hershberger (Bedford, Penn.) will also step up to the line as an individual qualifier.

The air rifle competition begins Saturday morning at 7 a.m. AST with a special fan-friendly setup in the Patty Center Gymnasium on the Fairbanks campus. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children in the 8th grade and below.

CONTACT: Sports Information Assistant Barry Piser, (907) 474-6805 or barry.piser@uaf.edu or Tori Tragis at tori.tragis@uaf.edu.