The NCAA rifle rankings were updated Oct. 23, 2023, with the VMI rifle program earning the No. 20 spot in the nation, a few days after mixed squad posted a program-record aggregate score against The Citadel. A week later, the VMI rifle program bettered its aggregate total by two points against No. 9 Georgia Southern Oct. 28.
The ranking, which is a first for the program, comes days after the mixed squad posted a program-record aggregate score of 4,579 in a win over The Citadel women’s team. In the process, the Keydets also shot a program-best in the smallbore, with a score of 2,266.
“The team really shot well today,” said Col. Bill Bither, rifle head coach. “We not only beat The Citadel but also broke the team aggregate and smallbore record.”
The Keydets had the top 10 individual scores, with Christopher Hicks ’24 leading all performers by posting an aggregate score of 1,153. Ryan Harlow ’25 was just two points behind Hicks, shooting a match-best 577 in the smallbore. Laini Morgan ’25 and Victoria Phillips ’25 led the way for the women, finishing 1-2 overall in the air rifle with scores of 587 and 585, respectively.
The next week, VMI increased their aggregate score, firing a hosted 4,581 against Georgia Southern. The Eagles, however, lived up to their top-10 billing, totaling 4,713 to earn the victory.
Harlow and Hicks had the top performances on the day for VMI, tying for seventh with individual scores of 1,159. Hicks finished just one point short of teammate Harlow (572) in the smallbore, with Hicks’ 588 leading the way in air rifle for the Keydets.
Phillips once again led the way on the women’s side, shooting a 583 in the air rifle and a 552 in the smallbore. Katelyn Grochaslki ’24 was just a point behind Phillips in the air rifle, shooting a 552 in the smallbore.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published at vmikeydets.com.