The Racer rifle team started its season off with a win against No. 16 Columbus State and No. 20 UT Martin, scoring an aggregate 4,625 to Columbus State’s 4,576. UT Martin’s mixed team scored a 4,571, with its women’s team taking a 4,465.
However a win was not the team’s primary goal. Beyond a win, the Racers were looking to start the new season with scores closer to where they left off last season. The Racers’ final score for last season was a 4,610 in their NCAA qualifier. The team’s highest score, however, for last season was a 4,636 in West Point, N.Y., where they came in third of three teams against West Virginia University and Texas Christian University.
At 4,625 the Racers were both pleased and frustrated, but above all looking forward to their future.
“I’m very excited about this team,” Head Coach Allan Lollar said. “Today was interesting in a lot of ways. You can divide a match into
several parts. All of our shooters had good parts and some not so good parts. The important thing is to identify the places to improve and go to work on them. We did that today. This year has just started. This is a journey that will take different paths before we get to February and the OVC Championships in Morehead. This team has character. This is step one.”
The shooters shared excitement over the strong start to the season, but also recognize several points to improve upon. Junior shooter Mikey Burzynski detailed his take of the match, highlighting what went well and what he will look to improve on in the coming season.
“Prep started and I did pretty well,” Burzynski said. “And then I started shooting prone. My heart was just like a hammer hitting me. It just kept beating and beating and I was just trying so hard to shoot 10’s, and I shot a 198 (out of a possible 200), so I did really well, because my average is like a 194, so 198 is a big jump.”
Burzynski said the standing was frustrating. He took several sighting shots when he got to the match and finally he just had to go.
“The first five shots weren’t that good, but then I got back in my zone and it was just 10 after 10 after 10,” Burzynski said. “By that time I knew I was doing really well. I was only down 13 points, I think. Then I went and shot just about my average for kneeling and finished with a 575.”
He shot air rifle right after and said it was not very good. His air rifle was one point higher than his smallbore.
“It was a 576,” Burzynski said. “The only reason why was just that the shot looked like a ten and then it would slide off just a hair and it would be a nine. There were so many 9.8s, 9.9s, 9.7s. I only shot one bad shot– an 8.9. I was happy that I didn’t shoot that many bad shots, but I wasn’t happy that I didn’t shoot as many 10’s as I wanted to.
“This is just the starting,” Burzynski said. “Nobody did phenomenally. There were very few good scores, like my smallbore and Kelsey (Emme’s) air rifle. We did OK.”
Sophomore shooter Kelsey Emme had her own frustrations to cope with, including a malfunctioning trigger.
“While I was in the prone I thought I was pulling the trigger too soon,” Emme said. “I didn’t realize I was taking up my slack. So I shot an eight and a seven in prone, but I thought it was just my mistake so I left and talked to coach and then I went back out to standing. I was doing pretty well in standing and then it happened again. I shot another seven. I stopped and told coach it wasn’t me, that it was the gun. He told me to bring it off the line and he checked it out and told me to go ahead and finish smallbore, so I had to readjust my whole thinking and my whole shot process because I normally don’t have the issue of not knowing when it’s going to fire. I had to be more aware of where I was taking up the slack or where I would normally do that. I think I did pretty well after that.”
Even given the issues with her gun, Emme had the third highest smallbore score with a 572 out of a possible 600 points.
Regardless of their difficulties with the first match of the season, both shooters remain excited for the new season and feel this year could be one to remember for Racer rifle.
“After this weekend I’m excited about it and I think our team will do pretty well for the beginning of the year,” Emme said. “I know last year the first match, we weren’t expecting a whole lot. But this year I think we’ll have higher expectations and more success. I just have a good feeling about our time.”
Kyra Ledbetter, Staff Writer