UAF Rifle closes 2020 road trip with dominant win over Georgia Southern

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 7:38 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks Rifle program (3-1) closed their 2020 road trip with a dominant team win over Georgia Southern University Thursday. The Nanooks outshot the Eagles in both the smallbore and air rifle relays to win by 114 points, while having the top seven shooters on the overall leaderboard.

“I think the team had a lot good things to take from it,” said Head Coach Will Anti. “Certainly showed a lot of resiliency for a four day road match and to go perform that well on the last day of it. It speaks a lot to their resiliency, so it was great.”

Overall Leaderboard November 19, 2020SmallboreAir RifleAggregate
1. Daniel Enger (UAF)5845941178
2. Rylan Kissell (UAF)5855921177
3. Liam Eberhart (UAF)5835891172
4. Haley Castillo (UAF)5785921170
5. Kellen McAferty (UAF)5875811168
6. Jessica Boyce (UAF)5725921164
7. Marina Gonzales Mago (UAF)5715871158
8. Ashley Judson (GSU)5685881156
9. Brianne Staton (GSU)5745811155
10. Kinsley Hannon (GSU)5645781142

The ‘Nooks won 4,693-4,579 thanks in large part to Daniel Enger and Rylan Kissell turning in standout performances. Enger, a transfer from Navy, took first in the overall leaderboard and the top spot in the air rifle after posting a 594. Kissell, a redshirt-freshman from Denver, Colorado, took second in the overall leaderboard, air rifle and smallbore.

“Really that both guns really well today and I think that’s huge,” said Anti on Kissell and Enger’s performance. “This is the first road trip that either of them have been on as a member of the Nanooks, it was really encouraging.”

Both Kissell and Marina Gonzales Mago have held their own during the four-match stretch for the Alaska, garnering top-10 finishes on the leaderboard during their time in the Lower 48. Mago’s best run came against the Memphis Tigers on November 14, when she took third overall with a 588 in the smallbore and a 586 in the air rifle for an aggregate score of 1,174. Kissell’s top finish was against the GSU Eagles when he scored a 585 in the smallbore and a 592 in the air rifle for an aggregate score of 1,177.

Under first year Head Coach Will Anti, the ‘Nooks have gone from being ranked 14th in the National Collegiate Athletic Association preseason rifle rankings to fifth during their road trip. Along the way, Alaska took down Memphis twice, lost in a close match to Ole Miss that came down to a tiebreaker and walloped Georgia Southern. Last season, the Nanooks failed to secure a spot in the NCAA championships, however under the Anti, the ‘Nooks look poised to make their return to the grandest stage for the sport.

“What I was most impressed about was the consistency of the group as a whole,” said Coach Anti about his team’s efforts on the road. “To put up essentially the same score, very close to the same score everyday at two different venues across a 10 day trip is incredibly impressive.”

The rifle program received a bode of confidence from the University of Alaska Fairbanks administration earlier this month after Vice Chancellor Keith Champagne said the team took the trip because they have a shot at winning a national championship. The last time Alaska hoisted the championship it was in 2008, concluding a run where the ‘Nooks won nine of 10 finals between 1999 and 2008. In both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Nanooks took second overall.

The Nanooks return to Fairbanks for a break before they start 2021 with a two-match series against the fourth ranked Texas Christian University Horned Frogs starting on January 16. The NCAA championships are set to start March 10 in Columbus, Ohio.

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