Rifle finishes fourth at Ole Miss

Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Photo courtesy of Sports Information

This weekend Racer rifle dropped their first match to the team that will likely be their biggest OVC competition, Jacksonville State.

The Murray State rifle team shot an aggregate score of 4621 of a possible 4800, four points lower than they managed in their home opener, and came in fourth place behind Texas Christian University (4707), Jacksonville State (4651) and host Ole Miss (4628). The score comes as a disappointment chiefly because the Racers strive for consistency and progress in their matches, making last Friday a step backward from their first match.

However even with the drop in scores and Jacksonville State looming on the horizon, the team had several bright spots in their weekend. Senior shooter Bill Harvey shot a 578 of a possible 600 in smallbore, improving his score by two points. Freshman shooter Tessa Howald shot a 577 with sophomore Kelsey Emme shooting a 576.

In many cases Racer shooters came away feeling their preparation had paid off and that though the team’s score sank, the individuals are moving toward more consistent results.

“I feel like it went well,” Harvey said. “I worked hard all week in practice and it paid off. It felt good to perform at that level and help my team.”

Howald, whose first match out of the gates with the Racers didn’t go as well as expected, improved her smallbore score by 14 points.

“I was a little nervous going into the match,” Howald said. “When I started shooting they went away until standing, but I took a break, talked to coach and went back and shot a decent kneeling. Over all I think I did okay, but I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Howald also posted an improved air rifle score, moving from a 579 in her first competition to a 589, with Emme close behind with a score of 588.

“We are starting to see flashes of what this team can do,” Head Coach Allan Lollar said. “Tessa and Kelsey are two of the hardest working and smartest air rifle shooters I’ve ever been around. They understand how to plan and manage a match.”

The Racers will take a short break from matches before facing the University of Kentucky and West Point Military Academy next week. Lollar said the team will use that time to focus more intensely on particular skills.

“It gives us a chance to focus on some things for a longer period of time because we’re not trying to get everything ready for Saturday,” Lollar said. “So we’ll work on a lot of prone and sling for the next two days where normally we’d be alternating and getting air rifle in there in order to not stay away from anything for too long. We can sort of reschedule our focus this week.”

Lollar went on to say he feels confident about the progress his team is making.

“We’re still trying to sort some things out,” Lollar said. “There was a little different focus on some things in training this week. Mostly we’re getting used to the idea that we can shoot good. They’re training better than they’re used to and that’s where they get out of their comfort zone. And when they get used to that then it’ll start showing up in matches.”

This Saturday, the Racers will host an open house starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until 12:30 in the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range, located underneath Roy Stewart Stadium. The open house will feature an air rifle demonstration, tours of the facility give fans a chance to meet the shooters.

 Kyra Ledbetter, Staff Writer