“Why Alaska in November?” For this commonly asked question, the answer is, “It’s not really that cold.” Even though during the Akron rifle team’s trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, on November 18-19, the high temperature was 7 degrees above and the low temperature was 15 degrees below, it’s a dry cold, which I’m told makes it much better. Furthermore, this trip gave the Akron rifle team a chance to post two scores from a pair of different ranges.
On the first day, Saturday November 18, the Akron Zips rifle team shot against the University of Kentucky Wildcats on the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks range. As for the second day of the competition on Sunday, November 19, Akron traveled to a junior club near campus where, along with Kentucky and Alaska-Fairbanks, the three rifle teams fired a three-way match. Why is this significant you may wonder? The answer—to qualify for the NCAA championships the top three scores, with no two at one location, are used to determine eligibility. If Akron fired two big scores at only one location, the team could only count the highest score. In addition, the match against Alaska-Fairbanks didn’t count as one of Akron rifle’s 13 permissible NCAA matches. In other words, it gives the Akron rifle team one additional chance this season to post a countable top-three score.
It seems as though I could write a book about all the great things that happened to Akron rifle during this trip. In addition to the high points already mentioned, allow me to expand on some of the most notable events. Match one against Kentucky resulted in a team score of 4712—the second-highest score in Akron program history and only nine points away from defeating the Wildcats. For match two, it looked like the gloves were off and Akron was going for all it could give. In the first of the two relays, smallbore went well, but something special was happening during air rifle. Akron sophomore Natalia Siek was red-hot as she posted a solid 594 score. However, Akron teammate and fellow sophomore Andrew Duross kept pounding 10 after 10, resulting in a new school record of 598-50. Folks, this means out of 60 shots, he hit the center 58 times. Simply amazing. Then for relay two, again, smallbore went well, but the mojo continued for air rifle. Akron senior Gavin Perkowski buried his rifle in the center and kept pounding 10s. After his 60th shot, the score revealed yet another 598—with two more center shots—making the second school record in four hours at 598-52. My hat is off to Andrew and Gavin for boldly going where no Akron rifle team athlete has gone before. All of this added up to a 4716 team score, which was only one point away from the Akron rifle team record.
So ended the first half of the season for Akron rifle. The team’s performance in Alaska finally showcased abilities they have displayed all season long. Only this time they did exceptionally well with both guns at the same time. This is why the Akron rifle team ranking jumped from No. 14 in the nation to No. 7, and I could not be prouder.
Results: Akron vs. Kentucky at Alaska-Fairbanks on Saturday, November 18, 2023.
Results: Akron vs. Alaska-Fairbanks and Kentucky on Sunday, November 19, 2023.
View the full NCAA scorecards for the Akron vs. Kentucky, and Akron vs. Alaska-Fairbanks and Kentucky matches at the NCAA rifle website.
After the long break, Akron rifle will again take to the range, this time hosting Morehead State and Ole Miss at its home range in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday, January 20. The fun will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Schrank Hall range.
Additionally, maybe time for some shopping? Check out the nifty online store created for Akron rifle by CLE Custom Shirts at this link. A small percent of each sale returns to the team.
Learn more about the Akron, Kentucky and Alaska-Fairbanks rifle teams.