The Murray State rifle team is gearing up for the Withrow Open, its third match of the spring season, hosted at Murray State on Jan 19.
The Racers started their spring season off strong with their season-best team score of 4,655 against Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 10. Despite their strong showing, the ninth-ranked Racers were unable to defeat the fourth-ranked Fairbanks, who scored 4,666.
Freshman Tessa Howald was among several Racer shooters that shot career-best scores. Howald shot an air rifle score of 593 and an aggregate of 1,165. Junior Mikey Burzynski and sophomore Marisca Mozeleski also shot career-bests in air rifle with a 588 and 579 respectively. The Racers’ team score of 2,356 in air rifle was four points shy of the school record.
Freshman Ryan Limpus shot a personal best in smallbore and air rifle with a 573. Sophomore Kesley Emme and junior Bill Harvey shot solid smallbore scores of 576.
Head Coach Alan Lollar said he was pleased overall with the Racers’ showing against Alaska Fairbanks.
“They’re learning to handle their expectations, and the good and bad in the match,” Lollar said. “The team is also learning to stay on an even keel throughout the matches. We had a slight bobble in smallbore but recovered.”
The Racers’ overall improved consistency on the range is reflected in their gradual increase in scores throughout the fall and spring season.
After their season-best score at home, the Racers headed to Jacksonville, Ala., to face off with the Gamecocks for the fifth time on Jan. 14. The eighth-ranked Racers were defeated by the sixth-ranked Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks led with a team score of 4,638, the Racers trailed with a 4,609 and Columbus State finished with a 4,574.
“The results weren’t what we were looking for or expected,” Lollar said. “One of the things this team of young shooters has to learn how to handle is ‘good stuff.’ ”
The Racers scored a 2,283 in smallbore and a 2,326 in air rifle. Emme led the team with a match-high score of 591 in air rifle.
Practices and training sessions started up once again on Monday, Jan. 13, as the Racers prepared for the upcoming Withrow Open hosted at Murray State’s Pat Spurgin Rifle Range Jan. 19 and Jan. 26.
The Racers will be short one of their top shooters, as Emme travels to Germany at the Bavarian Air Gun Championships Jan. 24-26. Emme is on the United States National Development Team.
The Withrow Open is divided into two weekends to accommodate the large list of teams. A few of the colleges that will be competing at the open include: Jacksonville State, Columbus State, Ohio State, University of Kentucky and UT Martin.
The Withrow open will be the last tournament before the OVC Championships. Lollar said he looks forward to the Open as the Racers continue with preparations for championships. The championships are hosted in February at Morehead State University.
Story by Laura Kovarik, Staff writer