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The University of Alaska at Fairbanks’ athletics have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic the same as anyone else has. Fewer sports, fewer competitions, fewer everything. One thing there hasn’t been less of is the Nanook rifle team. After sending one competitor to Nationals last year before the championships were canceled, the Nanooks are back in the National Championships once again this year and ready to leave their mark.

The 2021 NCAA Rifle Championships, hosted by Ohio State, are set to begin on Friday March 12 at Converse Hall in Columbus, Ohio. Smallbore Individual and team rifle with the finals is scheduled to start at 4:15 a.m. AKT on Friday. Air Rifle Individual and Team with the finals is set to start on Saturday at 4:15 a.m. AKT. This will be the first time the Nanooks have officially competed in the NCAA Championships since the 2018-2019 season when the finals were held in West Virginia.

This year, the Nanooks will be bringing a team of six shooters to the championships. Jessica Boyce, Liam Eberhart, Daniel Enger, Rylan Kissell, Kellen McAferty and Andrew Pham. Boyce shot a season high aggregate of 1178 back in November against Memphis. Eberhart improved in each contest this season, posting a career high 1181 against Air Force on Jan. 24. 

Enger, a transfer from Navy, shot a season high 1182 twice this season. Kissell, a freshman, posted a career high of 1185 against Air Force. McAferty twice shot season highs of 1179 while Pham, the team’s alternate, shot a season high of 1161 against Air Force.

“We made it to Columbus and the team is in good spirits and excited to start shooting,” head coach Will Anti said. “We are looking forward to the practice tomorrow-checking out the venue and getting some shots down range. Heading into the weekend the team is looking extremely well prepared and they are excited to perform. They have been diligent in their preparations both physically and mentally and they are going to see the benefit of that over the next few days. It should be a great test and a very interesting match.”

Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at Hpisani@newsminer.com, 459-7530, and on Twitter @Hpisani91.