Oct. 4, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army rifle team opens its 2013-14 campaign this weekend with a pair of Great America Rifle Conference (GARC) matches when it heads to Mississippi and Tennessee to take on Ole Miss and Memphis.
Army posted a 10-3 overall record last year and finished third in the GARC during the regular season with a 4-2 mark. Its lone GARC losses were to the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country in West Virginia and Kentucky, respectively. The Black Knights finished fourth at last year's GARC Championships, while Ole Miss was fifth and Memphis sixth.
Army's four seniors not only provide leadership, but is its largest group since the 2007-08 season when the Black Knights finished runner-up at the NCAA Championships.
"We have a solid team this year with six returning lettermen, along with four new recruits," noted Wigger, who last year reached the 100-win plateau. "I have lofty expectations for this year's team, and it all depends upon peaking at the right time.
"Experience-wise and talent-wise, this group has the potential to be a top four program at the end of the year. If you are in the top four heading into the NCAA Championships, you are a contender for the national title."
The Black Knights, who have earned 10 straight NCAA bids, return three All-Americans in seniors Michael Matthews, Joseph Todaro and Richard Calvin. Sophomore Alyssa Gestl was also a member of last year's five-man unit that competed at the NCAAs, where the Black Knights finished sixth.
Senior Zachary Wells, an NCAA qualifier in air rifle two years, is in the mix to break into Army's travel roster this weekend, along with freshman Morgan Lewis, a walk-on, as six will make the trip with the top five scores counting.
The Black Knights' strength among the two disciplines was in air rifle last year, and that is Army's deepest event this year as well. However, Matthews and Todaro earned All-America honors last spring in smallbore with Calvin picking up his certificate in air rifle.
"We have a strong fall schedule," noted Wigger, "and we will look to build on that. We have one of the toughest schedules in the country and will be tested right away. The season is not about won or losses, but being prepare for the NCAA Qualifier and earning a spot to the NCAA Championships."