The rifle team’s first wins of the season did not happen as planned.
The team had to make some adjustments prior to hosting its first tri-match of the season against Morehead State and Columbus State.
Head Coach Alan Lollar said he thinks the team did a good job.
“It was sort of a strange week, with a little adversity because we had one person that was just coming off being sick and didn’t get to train or prepare normally,” he said. “Then we had another one that had a sprained ankle that wasn’t able to shoot smallbore and we had to substitute somebody in.”
Lollar said players had to participate in different competitions than normal, but it provided good experience.
“Some of the roles got shifted around a little bit,” he said. “It was probably a good thing because stuff like that can happen at any time of the year before any match. Being able to practice a plan B, so to speak, is always a good thing.”
The backup plan worked.
The Racers went on to take their first two match victories of 2013, shooting a total team score of 4,634, ahead of Morehead’s 4,572 and Columbus’ 4,553.
They won both the smallbore and air rifle competitions with aggregate scores of 2,343 and 2,291, respectively.
Morehead placed second in small bore and third in air rifle, while Columbus finished second in air rifle and third in smallbore.
Senior Bill Harvey shot a team high 577 in smallbore and said he was finally able to put his training and match play together.
“I think individually I performed pretty well,” Harvey said. “I’ve been training pretty decent and I hadn’t quite transferred it into a match yet, but I think I’m finally starting to take my good training and transfer it into a match.”
Freshman Katarina Bisercic and sophomore Ryan Limpus followed Harvey, both shooting a 573.
Junior Kelsey Emme and junior Marisca Mozeleski tied for fourth on the team with a 572.
In air rifle, Emme finished first overall with a 589. Bisercic, sophomore Tessa Howald, senior Michael Burzynski and freshman Jack Berhorst all finished within eight points of Emme to wrap up air rifle.
While Harvey and Emme are the leaders by example for the Racers, their young guns have shown they can be a key part to their potential success this season.
“We’re still working on (younger shooters)’” Lollar said. “We have one freshmen that is squatting with the first team right now – Jack Berhorst. He is a quality young man that works hard and really cares about being a great shooter.”
Lollar said Bisercic is another newcomer who brings talent to the team.
“She is a really, really fine air gun shooter that is working hard on smallbore and is really coming along,” he said. “Both of those adding to Kelsey, Tessa and Bill give us, on most days, a pretty good first team. I’m looking forward to getting them healthy and seeing if we can all hit on the same weekend and seeing what kind of scores we can throw up.”
Lollar said he wants to get all his shooters on the same page this weekend because the team has both Texas Christian and Jacksonville State coming in Saturday for the second home tri-match.
TCU is No. 4 in the College Rifle Coaches Association Top 20 poll, and Jacksonville State is No. 9. Even though Murray State sits at No. 11, Lollar said he knows the Racers will have their hands full this weekend.
“We’re trying to really focus on cleaning up some stuff that showed up this weekend that we need to work on,” Lollar said. “Two of the best teams in the country are coming in. Jacksonville can arguably be No. 1 at any moment. TCU is historically great and they lost a lot of seniors, but it really hasn’t missed a beat.”
TCU and Jacksonville have both placed first twice so far this season.
As the elder statesman, Harvey said he is trying teach the rest of his teammates to stay within themselves as the Racers head into their next contest.
“I think we’re going to do pretty well this weekend,” Harvey said. “I just try to let them know to try to relax and shoot what they can shoot. Don’t try to be super great because you’ll just make yourself shoot worse.”
The tri-match is all day Saturday at Pat Spurgen Rifle Range, located beneath Roy Stewart Stadium.
Story by Nick Dolan, Assistant Sports Editor