Rifle takes fourth at qualifiers

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Kate Russell/The News
Senior Mike Burzynski makes adjustments to his rifle in a practice at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range.

But since the No. 11 Racers shot a 4,651 in its fourth-place regional finish, the team season has ended for the year.

Going into the qualifier, the team’s season average was 4,651, meaning the Racers finished on par.

“I thought we finished the year strong and I thought we did a good job,” Lollar said. “We’ve got some individuals that shot well this weekend and if the team doesn’t get in, they will be a part of the individual selection.”

Though the team did not shoot high enough to advance, some individual shooters may be able to compete in the championship.

In the competition, No. 1 West Virginia took first (4,691), No. 4 Nebraska was second. (4,678) and No. 5 Jacksonville State finished third (4,660) ahead of Murray State. Memphis, UT Martin and Columbus State rounded out the event.

Lollar said he was pleased with the Racers’ performances in their last two major tournaments this season.

“I thought we had a good qualifier match,” Lollar said. “I thought we had a good weekend. Two of the goals that I have for this team are to shoot well on qualifier weekend – which is our big pressure-packed weekend – and the OVC Championships.”

Junior Kelsey Emme was the leading shooter with a personal best of 586 in smallbore, good for a second-place tie overall. She also tied for 11th with a 589 in air rifle. Emme finished the season with OVC All-Conference Second Team Smallbore and All-Conference First Team Air Rifle honors.

Sophomore Tessa Howald shot a 580 in smallbore for 10th place. Howald was named to the OVC All-Conference First Team Smallbore and the OVC All-Conference First Team Air Rifle.

In his last match, senior Bill Harvey shot a 572 in smallbore and a season-best 584 in air rifle. Harvey joined Howald on the OVC All-Conference First Team Smallbore.

The most decorated Racer was freshman Katarina Bisercic, as she earned four OVC awards, including Air Rifle Athlete of the Year.

“I’m really proud of some of our individual efforts this year,” Lollar said. “Kelsey did a good job from beginning to end. Tessa has done a great job in air rifle. (Bisercic) was a solid air gun from the beginning to the end of the season. (Harvey) did a good job all year and his air gun came up at the end.”

The Racers compiled a solid season with wins over then-ranked No. 3 Jacksonville State and No. 4 Texas Christian. They also shot a season-high score against then-ranked No. 1 Kentucky, and a few weeks later earned a second-place finish in the OVC Championships.

While Harvey and fellow senior Mike Burzynski have finished their rifle careers for Murray State, the team is returning 10 shooters next year.

Lollar said he is happy with the group he has returning for the 2014-15 campaign.

“We had some young kids that got better during the year and we’re looking for a lot from them in the future,” he said. “I like this bunch. I think we’ve got some quality people that will work hard.”

 

Story by Nick Dolan, Assistant Sports Editor