After two matches of descending scores, the rifle team is back to its old self, winning its last match against Ohio State University with a score of 4,621.
The win, which was eight points shy of the Racers’ highest score of the season, meant more to the team than just improving scores. It stands as proof Murray State can plow through any difficulty.
Head Coach Alan Lollar also said the win and preceding two-week slump has been a learning experience for his shooters.
“I’ve got a group of shooters that really care about doing well for the team and for each other and so they’re working as hard as they can work,” Lollar said. “There are ups and downs. For two years we’ve been going up at a pretty steady pace. You just can’t always go up. This is one of those down times but I think we have the character to fight through it. I think when you struggle for something and sacrifice for something you become closer to the people that put as much value on it as you do.”
Kyle Donnan, junior shooter from Galway, N.Y., not only agreed, but said he thinks the team’s downturn could be over.
“We’ve been struggling for a little while, but this last match was an improvement, so that put us back on track, hopefully,” Donnan said. “After that last match we’re more prepared for the rest of the season. We had a few matches that were not our best but we’re definitely back in the upswing now. It was bad that we were down that low but it gave us our bottom and now all we can do is improve.”
This weekend Murray State heads to West Point, N.Y., to face off against Texas Christian University and Army. TCU shot its best match of the season at Murray State earlier this month with a score of 4,701. Thus far, Army’s top score is 4,663.
“I feel really good about it,” Lollar said. “It’s always nice to go somewhere you don’t go every year. So I think they’re looking forward to the trip up there. The competition will be tough, though. TCU’s arguably the best team in the country and Army has put together a really consistent first semester so competing with them is what we strive to do I think if we can rise to the level of our competition it has the chance to be the best weekend yet.”
In fact, TCU is so good, Donnan said their level of competition is what the Racers strive for.
“As a team they’re one of the best out there,” Donnan said. “It’s tons of fun to compete against them because they are very good competitors and a great team to hang out with. They’re shooting awesome this year and it would be great if Murray could rebound and get close to them. That’s a little out of the picture right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Regardless of how the match goes, Donnan said he thinks his team and the newfound closeness will be more than enough to carry them through the rest of their season.
“We had a rough start to the season,” Donnan said. “We lost a couple of shooters. I feel that now we have a much stronger, closer team. And after the win this weekend and coming back up in score it’s definitely brought us a new sense of team. As long as we can keep that going we’ll be fine.”