This weekend the Racers dropped two matches, losing to second ranked Kentucky by 61 points on Friday Oct. 19, then losing again the following day to seventh ranked United States Military Academy by 30. In terms of the Racers’ season, however, those numbers aren’t the ones that matter.
Here are some that do.
Senior Bill Harvey scored a career-high smallbore score of 580 on Friday against UK, only to beat that record the next day against Army with a score of 584, putting him in first place in smallbore.
If Harvey had posted the same score against Kentucky, he would have beaten all but one shooter. Harvey also shot his best aggregate score against Army with a 1,162.
Murray State also posted its two highest team smallbore scores of the season, first against UK with a score of 2,287 and then against Army with a score of 2,291.
Senior Caroline Barber held the Racers’ top aggregate score on Friday at 1,155, with a smallbore score of 572 and an air rifle score of 583.
Murray State’s freshmen shooters also had an impressive weekend, with Tessa Howald and Kaitlyn Wilson, both shooting a 569 in smallbore against Army on Saturday. In air rifle Howald shot a 582 with Wilson falling close behind with a 580, putting them in fifth and sixth place in air rifle against Kentucky.
“We didn’t necessarily compete as well as we would have liked to or we would hope to, but we definitely learned a lot and some of our freshmen definitely grew up during the last two matches,” Assistant Coach Ashley Rose said. “They were able to handle situations a lot better than they have in the past and that in itself is a great accomplishment.”
What all those numbers add up to is simple. Though the Racers have lost matches, their scores are improving. Despite the losses, Rose believes Murray State rifle is in good position and ready to move forward.
“One thing they didn’t do was give up,” Rose said. “They didn’t give up once. They worked their butts off throughout the whole match. Even though it wasn’t necessarily what we wanted
or what the potential of this team is, we definitely fought as hard as we could for the score that we had, so we can’t be mad at that. We have a lot of ground to gain. This team has a lot of potential and we’re training really well. We just have to learn to handle the pressure better.”
Part of learning to handle the pressure better, particularly for freshmen shooters who are quickly coming into their own, is acheiving consistency in the face of mentally-trying match situations.
“They’ve already started to establish some consistency in their matches,” Rose said. “So it’s just training at a higher level to bring those match scores up. I think they’ve already established their base. They have their bobbles. If you look at their match you’ll see that they have some really good strings and then one low one. It’s just that one low one we have to work on and getting over those little bobbles. That’s where we can
establish a little bit more consistency and push harder to bring those scores up.”
This weekend, the Racers will host their second match of the season, taking on ninth ranked Ole Miss and third ranked conference rival Jacksonville State University.
“I think that this weekend we’ll have the advantage of being home again and like Allan (Lollar) says, we just got done with a match and yes it was hard, but come Monday morning we’re training for the next one,” Barber said. “We won’t forget what happened at this match and we’ll work on the things we struggled with or that
we need to improve on, but we’re always preparing for the next one. And I think this one will be a good one.”
Last season the Gamecocks took home the OVC Championship, breaking the Racers’ three-year streak, making them a rival for Murray State and the main competition for the OVC title.
“Jacksonville, I think graduated only one senior last year, so they’re coming back with their team from last year,” Rose said. “They’re doing well this season and we’re looking forward to them coming. They’ll give us a lot of competition because they’re not having to go through some of the struggles we are, but they’ve definitely improved this year and we’re hoping to make those improvements.”
The Racers will face off Saturday against both Ole Miss and OVC rival Jacksonville State at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range in two relays.
The first relay will start at 8 a.m. and the second will start around 1 p.m. Fans are encouraged to come watch the matches below Roy Stewart Stadium.
Story by Kyra Ledbetter, Staff writer