Big East

Mountaineers Hope to Punch Olympic Tickets

June 2, 2016

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Five with ties to the West Virginia University rifle team will compete at the United States Olympic Team Trials for Airgun June 3-5, at Camp Perry, Ohio.

Rising Mountaineer junior Elizabeth Gratz will compete in women’s air rifle, while three former Mountaineer shooters – 2016 graduate Garrett Spurgeon, 2015 graduate Thomas Kyanko and 2010 graduate Bryant Wallizer – and graduate assistant Dan Hermsmeier will shoot in the men’s air rifle competition. One women’s roster spot and two men’s roster spots are up for grabs this weekend.

“It’s great for WVU rifle to have so much representation at this weekend’s Olympic Trials,” Mountaineer coach Jon Hammond said. “Every shooter should go into the match with a positive attitude and shoot for his or her best performance. This is always a competitive match, and each of the shooters should be proud to have made it this far.”

A qualifying relay and final will be featured each day this weekend, with all qualifying scores and points from the event finals added on Sunday for a cumulative total for each shooter.

Spurgeon, an 11-time All-American, earned his spot at this weekend’s trial with a first-place finish at the 2015 USA Shooting Winter Airgun Championships on Dec. 6. Wallizer also placed in the top 10 at the December trial and automatically qualified for this weekend’s competition.

Gratz, Kyanko and Hermsmeier earned bids to the trial at the 2016 Olympic Trial Makeup Match for Airgun in May, as each matched or exceeded the 10th-place score shot at the winter airgun championships. Gratz finished second overall with a three-day total of 1242.8, surpassing the qualifying mark of 1235.5.

“This weekend is going to be a great learning experience for Elizabeth,” Hammond added. “Everyone is shooting very well right now. They all should go in with a positive attitude and enjoy the match.”

Rising sophomore Ginny Thrasher secured a roster spot for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics with a first-place finish at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore in April. Three additional Mountaineers have already punched their tickets for the upcoming Olympic Games: Petra Zublasing (Italy), Nicco Campriani (Italy) and Ziva Dvorsak (Slovenia).

Follow @WVURifle this weekend for daily updates. A complete recap will be available Sunday evening. 

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