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    February 8, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Junior sharpshooter Kristen Gagne ranked first individually in the Smallbore events and ranked second in Air Rifle to lead Liberty University’s rifle team to second-place standings out of 12 schools in both disciplines after its fourth and final Western Intercollegiate Rifle Conference (WIRC) postal matches in January.

    The Lady Flames shot the January postal event at the team’s new indoor shooting range at the former Liberty Mountain Skate Park in Candlers Station.

    In the Smallbore event, Liberty shot exactly its four-month average in January (2,200) to finish second to Akron University, which shot 2,250 to bring its overall average to 2,245.

    Gagne shot an average round of 563.8 in the four Smallbore postal events, edging Akron’s Ben D’Angelo (563.3) and Brian Aliventi (560.3). Lady Flames freshman Claudia Weber claimed fourth place with her four-round average of 559.8 followed by freshman Payton Peppard (sixth, 556.5).

    Liberty’s top shooters combined for a first-place finish in the January Air Rifle competition, edging Akron, 2,275-2,256. The Zips posted the highest overall team average after four events, 2,287 compared to the Lady Flames’ 2,272 average.

    Gagne shot a round of 582 in January, edging North Dakota State’s Jacob Vaagen and raising her second-place average to 578, ranking her behind only Akron’s Lily Cicatella (581).

    The Lady Flames had four shooters finish in the top 15, including Payton Peppard (fifth in January at 571 and ninth overall with an average of 566), her sister, freshman Devin Peppard (13th overall, 566.5), and Weber (tied for ninth in January at 566 and 15th overall, 561).

    “We are very proud of our rifle season to date,” Liberty Head Coach Marlene Gray said. “Their hard work and dedication to practices has paid off. We are in good position going into NRA Sectionals this weekend in Michigan and WIRC Championships at the University of Akron next weekend. We should do very well.”

    At Saturday’s NRA Sectionals in Jackson, Mich., Liberty will be competing against the University of Michigan, Hillsdale College, Purdue University, and others mostly from the WIRC.

    There will be three locations for the Feb. 19 WIRC Championships due to COVID-19 protocols and the Lady Flames will be competing in-person against host Akron (Ohio) and Georgia Military, with another five or more teams shooting in Michigan and three teams out in North Dakota.

    Liberty will return to Fort Wayne, Ind., on April 2-3 to compete for a second year in the American Smallbore Shooting Association (ASSA) National Championships.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer

    Liberty shooters switch out their paper Air Rifle targets during the January WIRC postal event at the new indoor shooting range.