MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University rifle coach Jon Hammond has announced that former Mountaineer and nine-time All-American Jean-Pierre Lucas has been hired as the team’s assistant coach.
“We’re really excited to bring Jean-Pierre back to Morgantown and WVU,” Hammond said. “He set the standard for work ethic and drive in his five years on our team, going from a walk-on to our team captain and leading his team to an NCAA Championship. Not many college athletes leave with five championship rings, and he was a part of the incredible run we had as a team and left an impression on all of his teammates.
Lucas returns to Morgantown after spending the last five seasons at Ole Miss, where he was named the Great American Rifle Conference’s (GARC) Assistant Coach of the Year four times and was the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association’s (CRAC) National Assistant Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons.
“The last five years, he has helped transform the Ole Miss rifle team with his coaching, determination and drive to continually find ways to improve, and I’m really excited for him to bring all those things back to WVU,” Hammond added. “It’s special to have that full circle of coaching an athlete, especially a team captain, and bringing them back to coach with you, so to say I’m excited it probably an understatement.”
In his final season at Ole Miss, Lucas helped lead the Rebels to a 10-3 record in the regular season, including a 7-1 mark inside the GARC. After the squad placed third at the 2022 GARC Championships, Ole Miss moved on the 2022 NCAA Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where they placed fourth with an aggregate total of 4713. Lucas once again was named the GARC Assistant Coach of the Year and the CRCA National Assistant Coach of the Year after assisting six shooters to 12 All-GARC honors, including Lea Horvath, who was honored as the conference’s Shooter of the Year. Additionally, Lucas also helped three shooters collect five All-America honors.
In 2020-21, Lucas helped Ole Miss qualify for the NCAA Rifle Championship for the first time in 15 years, earning the No. 2 seed, and went on to place third overall, its highest finish in school history. Horvath also earned a pair of third-place finishes in smallbore and air rifle. The Rebels opened the season with a bang, firing an NCAA record smallbore score of 2361 and the top score in program history by over 40 points on October 10. In doing so, Ole Miss received its first No. 1 ranking in the CRCA poll in school history. In January, the Rebels topped defending GARC Champions, No. 2 Kentucky, at home 4727-4713. After posting an 11-1 record, Ole Miss also earned a share of the GARC regular-season title along with Kentucky and West Virginia, marking the most conference wins for the Rebels in school history (seven) and their first conference championship.
Lucas led a program-record four Rebels to a combined nine All-American honors from the CRCA. Horvath was a unanimous first team All-American and garnered Rookie of the Year honors after she first the first perfect air rifle score in Ole Miss history and the 12th ever in NCAA history. After the historic season for the Rebels, Lucas was named National Assistant Coach of the Year by the CRCA and GARC Assistant Coach of the Year for the third time in his career.
During the 2019-20 season, Ole Miss turned in seven of the top 10 aggregate scores in program history, including a program-record air rifle mark of 2372, outshooting her former team, the Mountaineers, in the event on Nov. 2, 2019. The Rebels made noise, climbing as high as No. 5 in the CRCA Poll for four weeks and spent the entire season inside the top 10. Overall, Ole Miss finished the season with a 5-6 record and a sixth-place finish in the Great America Rifle Conference.
With Lucas’ assistance, Abby Buesseler had one of the best seasons of her career, becoming the sixth All-American in program history. Buesseler earned a trio of All-America nods, including NRA Smallbore First Team honors. She also qualified as an individual for the canceled 2020 NCAA Rifle Championships in smallbore.
The Rebels finished the 2018-19 season with six wins, two GARC Honorable Mention performers in Jillian Zakrzeski and Hayley Carrol, and a fourth-place regular-season finish in conference. Ole Miss spent three weeks at No. 7 in the CRCA rankings after firing the second-highest score in program history on Jan. 13, with a 4685. Additionally, a record 94 fans packed the Ole Miss rifle range in the Rebels’ 4665-4651 regular-season finale victory against Nebraska on Feb. 2.
Lucas arrived in Oxford for his first season in 2017 and made an immediate impact. The Rebels earned their best overall finish in GARC action, third overall and won a program-record seven matches. He also played a pivotal role in helping Kamilla Kisch qualify for the NCAA Championship, earning an at-large bid in air rifle. With all the success on the range, three Rebels received All-GARC Honorable Mention honors and Lucas was named the conference’s Assistant Coach of the Year.
Prior to Ole Miss, Lucas, a native of Speers, Pennsylvania, Lucas earned a spot on the WVU rifle team under coach Hammond after trying out for the team as a freshman. In 2014, as a redshirt freshman, Lucas competed in the GARC Championships, placing third in smallbore (587) with a final score of (441).
As team captain for both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Lucas led the Mountaineers to two NCAA Championship titles. During his collegiate career, he earned All-American honors nine times, including NRA First Team Smallbore and CRCA Second Team his senior year. Other accomplishments include finishing in third in smallbore (583), and fifth in air rifle (593) at the 2016 GARC Championships.
“I am really excited to return to West Virginia University to join coach Jon Hammond as the assistant rifle coach,” Lucas said. “I enjoyed my time as a student-athlete at WVU, and to have the opportunity to return as a part of the coaching staff is really special. I have spent the past five years as the assistant rifle coach at Ole Miss, and I am leaving an incredible team and athletic department that has helped shape me into the coach that I am today. I am excited to begin the next chapter in my coaching career with the WVU rifle team and look forward to all that we will accomplish together. I am honored to be a Mountaineer again, and thankful to have this opportunity.”
Lucas graduated an Academic All-Big 12 and CRCA All-Academic student from WVU in May 2017 with a bachelor of science in petroleum & natural gas engineering.