Nanooks Rifle wins National Championship

First title since 2008
Updated: Mar. 11, 2023 at 6:30 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Nanooks are the 2023 NCAA Rifle Champions. This is the first championship since 2008 and the eleventh in program history. This is third-year head coach, Will Anti’s first collegiate coaching championship.

Friday, the Nanooks started strong in the smallbore discipline. They won the smallbore championship scoring 2349. Ole Miss claimed second, 2346. West Virginia finished third on the podium, 2343. TCU, who was the Patriot Rifle Conference champions five weeks ago, struggled on the first day with a score of 2338 which was sixth of eight teams.

Rylan Kissell led Nanook individuals shooting a 590, which was the second-highest score behind West Virginia’s, Mary Tucker, who shot a 592. Gavin Barnick and Peter Fiori shot identical 588′s. Rachael Charles was fourth for the team with a 583, and Kellen McAferty shot 582.

Saturday, Alaska dominated in air rifle. Kissell shot the first-ever perfect, 600 in NCAA Championship history. Rachael Charles followed behind with a 598. Two more Nanooks shot 590 or better. Kellen McAferty scored 592. Gavin Barnick reached 590. The fifth Nanooks shooter, Peter Fiori ended with a 588.

As a team, the University of Alaska Fairbanks won the air rifle championship by one point over TCU, 2380 to 2379. Air Force claimed the third place spot in air combining for 2375.

Going to the aggregate, it was clear Alaska would be the aggregate champion with a pair of first place finishes. The Nanooks end the season on top, shooting 4729. TCU went from sixth after day one to second at the end of the championships finishing as the runner up with a 4717. The Kentucky Wildcats also used a strong performance in air to finish third.

Rylan Kissell ended as the top individual aggregate performer, shooting an 1190 (590-600-1190). Following Kissell’s standout weekend, he was named the most outstanding performer. Rachael Charles also finished in the top ten individuals shooting an 1181 (583-598-1181).

The fifteen year championship drought has come to an end. Alaska is bringing back a myriad of hardware, and are the second-winningest championship rifle team in NCAA history.