Hickey Takes Air Rifle Title, Keydets Place Second
Courtesy: VMIKeydets.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. – After two strong days of performance, the VMI men’s rifle team placed second overall at the 2017 Southern Conference Rifle Championship that concluded Sunday at The Citadel’s Inouye Marksmanship Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

In the first SoCon Rifle Championship held since the 1985 season, the Keydet men’s team finished second behind champion North Georgia with an aggregate score of 4513, the total from Saturday’s 2234 in the smallbore and Sunday’s 2279 effort in the air rifle. Saturday’s 2234 in the smallbore ranked second best in the league behind UNG, while Sunday’s 2279 air rifle finished third among the eight member squads. The VMI women’s team placed fifth overall with an aggregate score of 4404 (2138 SB, 2266 AR).

A day after claiming first team All-Conference honors in the smallbore, VMI senior Andrew Hickey won the individual title in the air rifle by posting a 244.8 in the final, edging out UNG’s Andrew Abernathy’s 238.8. UNG’s Abernathy and VMI’s Hickey were the only two student-athletes in the league to earn first-team All-SoCon honors in both disciplines.

“What an amazing honor for Andrew,” said VMI head coach Colonel Bill Bither. “I’m very proud of the team for hanging in there and not giving in to tough competition. We’re happy with the second-place finish in the league and it concludes an awesome weekend for us.”

VMI freshman Hunter Jacob placed third in the air rifle final to also earn first team All-Conference honors, while VMI women’s team junior Samantha Alexander took eighth in the final to claim second team All-Conference accolades.

A day after being named the SoCon Smallbore Athlete of the Year, UNG’s Ruthanne Conner was crowned the SoCon Air Rifle Athlete of the Year despite not competing in Sunday’s final round. The award is determined by averaging the league shooters’ top three regular-season finishes from different locations with their championship scores.

VMI’s Jacob finished third with a 220.2 in the final while Alexander’s eighth-place mark of 112.2 also earned all-conference recognition. On Saturday, Hickey and freshman William Davidson earned All-Conference honors in the smallbore.

2017 Southern Conference Rifle Championship
Aggregate team scores SB AR Agg.
1. North Georgia 2270 2294 4564
2. VMI 2234 2279 4513
3. Georgia Southern 2201 2296 4497
4. The Citadel 2191 2283 4474
5. VMI-W 2138 2266 4404
6. UAB 2110 2252 4362
7. The Citadel-W 2139 2214 4353
8. Wofford 2171 2186 4350

Air rifle individual final
1. Andrew Hickey, VMI 244.8
2. Andrew Abernathy, UNG 238.8
3. Hunter Jacob, VMI 220.2
4. Tori Lewis, GSU 198.7
5. Selina Curren, UAB 178.4
6. Lilly Vonderau, UAB 157.6
7. Courtney Weekley, GSU 137.5
8. Samantha Alexander, VMI-W 112.2

Air Rifle Athlete of the Year
Ruthanne Conner, Jr., North Georgia

Freshman of the Year
Lilly Vonderau, UAB

Coach of the Year
William Smith, The Citadel

Pinnacle Award (student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team)
Ruthanne Conner, Jr., North Georgia

All-Southern Conference Air Rifle
First team
Selina Curren, UAB
Tori Lewis, Georgia Southern
Andrew Abernathy, North Georgia
Andrew Hickey, VMI
Hunter Jacob, VMI

Second team
Lilly Vonderau, UAB
Allison Auten, The Citadel
Courtney Weekley, Georgia Southern
Lucas Gilliland, North Georgia
Samantha Alexander, VMI-W