This weekend one of the more unheralded programs in the Gamecock athletic program stable will be competing on the highest stage - for the fourth straight year.
The Jacksonville State Rifle team will be competing in Murray, KY at the NCAA Championships.
One of eight schools invited, the winner of this weekend’s shooting will be crowned national champions. Last month the Gamecocks won their third-straight conference title just edging Murray State.
Coach Ron Frost was expecting this to possibly be the year JSU finally broke through on the giant stage, and while still a possibility, things got a little tougher when the Gamecocks lost one of their leading shooters.
Junior shooter Cole Tucker will miss the championships, what would be his third straight, after a fall in his home resulted in a fracture near the elbow. Tucker didn’t believe he was initially injured badly but trips to orthopedists confirmed it was indeed. It became necessary to cast, thus impossible to compete with.
Tucker has been a leading shooter all season. He was hoping to at least compete for an individual championship after finishing second nationally a year ago in air rifle.
The lineup of five shooters that will step to the firing line now in Murray is slightly altered. It will feature senior Sam Muegge, who will be competing in fourth straight NCAAs, Dan McCall, a junior like Tucker who will shoot for the first time without his closest friend at his shoulder,
junior Brent Books, sophomore Samantha Bullard and freshman Brandon Muske.
Tucker said he will be there for moral support.
The Gamecocks will compete against the elite in the colligate rifle ranks including defending champion West Virginian, 2010 and 2012 winner
TCU, and an Alaska team that has brought home nine titles since 1999. Jax State has never won the championship as a team, but finished runner-up to Army in 2005.