In sports, especially at the college level, consistency cannot be counted on. Players graduate, injuries happen, coaches get fired, pandemics apparently exist, and so on.
Nothing is guaranteed…well, unless you’re the TCU Rifle team.
TCU Athletics’ most recent national champion (2019) has been furiously dominating opponents this year, earning the number one spot in the nation.
For reference, neither TCU football nor either TCU basketball team have been ranked at all this season, so it’s safe to say we are still a rifle school.
There is no shame in that, especially when you’re this good.
Last spring, the Frogs were on a roll and looked poised and ready to defend their national title at the NCAA Championships when the event was canceled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 13 All-American awards that TCU garnered a week later showed just how much talent they possessed; and with only one senior (Casey Lutz) graduating, the Frogs were set up to be contenders once again in 2021.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how TCU has faired so far this season.
Dominant start in Ohio
With a chip on their shoulder from the title they never got to defend, the Frogs headed on a road trip to the Midwest for their first two competitions of 2021.
First, the Frogs took down the Buckeyes, winning a close bout with Ohio State 4,703-4,661 thanks to an all-time performance by Stephanie Grundsoee.
Grundsoee led all shooters in both small borne and air rifle. The sophomore set a career-high with a 1,190 aggregate score. Her 593 mark in smallborne was not only a career-high as well, but it was also the sixth-highest in TCU history.
The Frogs then made the short trip to Akron for their second match of the year. This is where they really got going, taking down the Zips 4716-4670 (fourth-highest aggregate score in the NCAA at that point) and holding the top FIVE shooters in the competition.
Is that good?
Yet again, Grundsoee led the way, setting a career-high with a 599 in air rifle. Junior Kirsten Hemphill established herself as Grundsoee’s partner in crime, finishing second for the second-straight match.
Too easy at this point
Ranked fourth in the nation at that point, TCU then headed to face No. 5 Alaska twice in one weekend for their first real tests of 2021.
The first match was close; but the Frogs, yet again, prevailed, taking down the Nanooks (you read that right) 4,722-4,703.
The standout in the match for TCU was Elizabeth Marsh. The senior from Searcy, Ark. set season-highs in both categories and tied her career-high aggregate score with 1,184.
Marsh finished second overall in the match, finishing just one point behind Grundsoee, who continued her dominant start to the season.
Whatever Alaska had in match one to keep up with TCU was nonexistent in match two, as the Frogs turned up the heat and downright dominated the Nanooks.
TCU won 4,730-4685, posting the second-highest aggregate score in school history.
Four Frogs (Grundsoee, Marsh, Nina Schuett, and Grace Taschuk) scored career-highs in the matchup, with several others reaching their season-highs.
Six of the top ten shooters in the match came from TCU, as the Frogs demonstrated that the fifth-best rifle team in the nation wasn’t even on their level.
Back on top
TCU’s performance in Alaska put them on top in the national rankings, but they didn’t let that slow them down.
The Frogs then headed to Charleston, South Carolina, and scored a school record 4,738 in a win over the Citadel that was so resounding that the Bulldogs’ score isn’t even listed on gofrogs.com.
TCU’s 2,355 mark in smallborne was also a program-high.
Hemphill went absolutely bezerk in the match, scoring career-highs in smallborne, air rifle, and aggregate.
As if things couldn’t get any better for TCU, Grundsoee had a historic performance a week later against UTEP, as the Frogs blew out the Miners 4,695-4,531.
Grundsoee became the third Horned Frog to score a perfect score in air rifle, earning just the 11th 600 in NCAA history.
The sophomore added a 593 in smallborne to tally a career-high 1,193 aggregate score, yet again leading TCU, which held the top four positions in each category.
Both TCU and UTEP then headed to Colorado Springs for a triangular match with Air Force. There, the Frogs beat yet another military academy, tallying an aggregate score of 4,709 and advancing to 6-0.
For the sixth-straight match, Grundsoee finished with TCU’s highest aggregate score (1,184), while Marsh and Hemphill (career-high 598 in air rifle) rounded out second and third, respectively.
Something to prove
Ranked first in the nation and looking stronger than ever, the TCU Rifle team looks headed to their second national title in three years.
Before they can do that, they’ll take part in the Patriot Rifle Conference tournament, take on VMI, and get their first home matchups on Feb. 18th and 20th against Air Force.
Something to keep in mind: the Frogs are an all-female squad competing in a co-ed sport.
You think that matters to TCU?
Absolutely not, and you can best believe any team that wants to win a national title will have to go through the Grundsoee-led Horned Frogs first.