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The University of Alaska at Fairbanks rifle team earned their best finish since 2017 this past weekend as they took fifth place at the NCAA championships in Columbus, Ohio.

The Nanooks shot a 2326 on Friday, March 12, in the smallbore discipline and posted a score of 2356 in the air rifle discipline for a final score of 4682.

Freshman Rylan Kissell led the way for the Nanooks, shooting a 595 in relay one of the air rifle. Kissell fired an immediate 100 off the line, opening up his morning, followed by three consecutive 99s, one more 100 and a 98 on his final 10, including 51 X’s on his scorecard. 

Senior Liam Eberhart wasn’t too far behind Kissell in the result category, shooting a 588. He fired a 97, 98, 198, and ended with 98 and 99 on the scorecard. Daniel Enger was right behind Eberhart with a 587, shooting 96, 98, 97, 100, and two 98’s.

Kellen McAferty was just behind as well, posting a 586 air rifle round. Jessica Boyce posted a 578.

“The team had a tremendous season and today was really a culmination of that effort,” said head coach Will Anti. “They once again, proved to be a top-five team in the nation. After starting the season ranked outside the top 10, they should be extremely proud of their climb. In air rifle today, we certainly had some highlights, but also had some learning moments. Rylan had another great day. It was an impressive bookend for his freshman campaign. I think the group showed some resiliency and grit with everyone shooting a bit better towards the back half of their matches. Most importantly, I think this match really introduced the team to the environment and the sensations that come with contending for a top spot. We can move forward with the knowledge we gained here as we look to preparing for next year.”

Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at Hpisani@newsminer.com, 459-7530, or on Twitter @hpisani91.