Nanooks rack up national titles in rifle, skiing

FastCast Iditarod update for Monday, March 13, 2023.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 3:51 PM AKDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 3:59 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks was busy last week racking up national titles.

The school’s rifle and cross-country skiing teams both won National College Athletics Association titles in the past week.

The UAF rifle team’s title won its 11th national championship in program history — and their first since 2008 — on Saturday. UAF outpaced second-place Texas Christian University by just 12 points with a score of 4729 to 4717. Kentucky rounded out the top-3 with a score of 4713.

“There are almost no words to describe my overwhelming pride for this group.” UAF Rifle Head Coach Will Anti said. “It’s been tireless work, stress, management, and joy to get to this moment. We’ve made it to the mountain top and are just taking in the view now. I think it’s still sinking in for almost all of us.”

The Nanooks were on top at the conclusion of the first day of competition on Friday, winning the smallbore event with a score of 2349. On Saturday, the Nanooks downed the rest of the competition in the air rifle event with a score of 2380, giving them their aggregate score of 4729.

University of Alaska Fairbanks' rifle team celebrates their NCAA rifle championship upon...
University of Alaska Fairbanks' rifle team celebrates their NCAA rifle championship upon arrival at Fairbanks International Airport on Sunday, March 12, 2023 (Photo courtesy of Miles Jordan/UAF Athletics)(UAF Athletics/Miles Jordan)

Rylan Kissel and Rachael Charles were two of the best individual shooters for the Nanooks, both of them qualifying for the air rifle individual finals — and winning the gold and bronze medals, respectively.

Anti said afterward the event that the national championship was “truly a team effort.”

“Every person made an impact that resulted in a perfect sweep,” Anti said. “I hope in the days to follow I can sum up the season in a more eloquent way but for now I can say simply that today a lot of preparation met with a little luck and the ‘Nooks ruled more than the north — they ruled the nation.”

At the NCAA Skiing Championships, held in Lake Placid, New York, sophomore Joe Davies on Thursday won the 10-kilometer freestyle race with a time of 22 minutes, 33.2 seconds.

Like the rifle program, it was the Nanooks’ first individual champion in over 10 years. Davies, a Canadian member of the team, got faster as the race went along, taking the lead by a near 20-second margin at the halfway point.

Davies became the first UAF skier to win a cross-country individual championship since 2008 when Marius Korthauer won the 20K classic title.

The victory helped the Nanooks to tie their best ever cross-country ski results in program history with a third place in the team standings.

On the women’s side, Mariel Pulles led UAF with a fourth-place finish in the 20K classic to help the team finish third in the standings.