ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Southern Conference Rifle Championship will take place Saturday and Sunday at The Citadel’s Inouye Marksmanship Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
The SoCon will crown team champions in both the smallbore and air rifle disciplines as well as an overall champion. In addition, individual champions will be crowned in each discipline. Smallbore competition will take place Saturday, followed by air rifle on Sunday.
Eight teams will be competing for the 2018 title. UAB, The Citadel (co-ed and women’s teams), Georgia Southern, North Georgia, VMI (co-ed and women’s teams) and Wofford will compete this weekend.
Rifle returned to the SoCon last year, adding to the conference’s rich rifle history. Current members The Citadel have won a league-best 10 team titles and VMI claimed two titles during the league’s first incarnation (1956-85). West Virginia’s John Writer, the 1965 and 1966 SoCon individual champion, won a gold medal in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and a silver in 1968 in Mexico City, both in rifle three positions. ETSU became a player on the national scene from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, winning seven straight SoCon titles and placing third at the inaugural NCAA Championships in 1980. The Bucs finished no worse than fourth at the NCAA Championships each year from 1980-85.
North Georgia, ranked 19th nationally, is the favorite to win this year’s title. The Nighthawks won the 2017 SoCon Championship, posting an aggregate score of 4565. North Georgia’s Ruthanne Conner was named the Air Rifle Athlete of the Year. North Georgia paced the field with a 2270 in smallbore, but was edged out by two points in the Air Rifle by Georgia Southern, whose aggregate score was 4497, placing them third overall. VMI, which finished second overall, posted an aggregate score of 4513. The Citadel came in fourth with an aggregate score of 4474, while VMI women, UAB, The Citadel women and Wofford finished fifth through eighth, respectively.
In 2018, North Georgia averaged the highest conference scores in smallbore (2271.07), air rifle (2321.07) and aggregate (4592.15), going 7-0 in SoCon matches. Georgia Southern and The Citadel finished second and third, respectively, with The Citadel finishing second with a smallbore average of 2245.85 and Georgia Southern averaging a 2309 in air rifle. VMI, which had the third highest smallbore average of 2215, finished fourth in the SoCon with a record of 4-3. UAB, VMI women, Wofford and The Citadel women finished the SoCon regular season fifth through eighth, respectively.
UNG’s Dakota Spivey leads the SoCon in smallbore (573) and aggregate (1152) average, while teammate Kimberlee Nettles tops the conference with a 585.58 average in air rifle.
At the conclusion of the championship, the Southern Conference will name all-conference teams in both disciplines as well as athletes of the year in each discipline, a freshman of the year and a coach of the year.
Admission to the championship is free.
2018 Southern Conference Rifle Championship Schedule
Saturday, March 3 – Smallbore
8:30-8:45 a.m. Preparation and sighting
8:45-10:30 a.m. Smallbore relay 1
11-11:15 a.m. Preparation and sighting
11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. Smallbore relay 2
1:30-1:45 p.m. Preparation and sighting
1:45-3:30 p.m. Smallbore relay 3
4:45 p.m. Smallbore individual final
Sunday, March 4 – Air rifle
7:45-8 a.m. Preparation and sighting
8:00-9:15 a.m. Air rifle relay 1
9:45-10 a.m. Preparation and sighting
10-11:45 a.m. Air rifle relay 2
11:45 a.m.-12 p.m. Preparation and sighting
12-1:15 p.m. Air rifle relay 3
2:30 p.m. Air rifle individual final