Since the season opened Sept. 28, the Racer rifle team has remained ranked among the top 10 in the nation.
Head Coach Alan Lollar said the results reflect that all the team’s hard work and dedication to practices are paying off.
“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Lollar said. “You are really only competing against yourself. It’s a race that you run by yourself. You can’t prevent someone else from doing well so you focus on yourself.”
The Racers opened their season at home against UT Martin Sept. 28, finishing with a win at Pat Spurgin Rifle Range with an aggregate score record of 4,672-4,597. Murray State’s top aggregate score of the day – 1,175 – came from junior Tessa Howald from Ozark, Mo. Howald scored 594 in the air rifle and 581 in a smallbore. This score ties her previous high against Morehead State in 2013.
“I feel confident this year because we have all worked together to support one another,” Howald said. “You take something small you need to work on and turn it into a strength. That’s exactly what we do every week.”
The team’s lone senior, Kelsey Emme, from Piedmont, S.D., had a solid start to her last season. She tied with the top score in small-bore at 584 and then paired with a 590 in air rifle ending with a total of 1,174, just one point behind Howald.
“I’ve learned a lot in my last few years on the team,” Emme said. “I learned not to stress as much. We’ve grown to rely on each other because you won’t have a best day every day.”
Lollar said he’s confident going into the next few weeks’ matches. He said he’s excited every time they go to a match.
The team traveled to Oxford, Miss., last Saturday to compete in the Ole Miss Invitational that included eight other teams.
The Racers placed second. The Racers finished with a collective score of 4,662, only 14 points behind the winning team, Jacksonville State. The Racers scored 2,313 in small-bore and followed with 2,349 in air rifle.
For the second straight match, Howald led the Racers with an aggregate score of 1,168.
“My goal for the season is to always shoot my best because I face something different each week,” Howald said. “My best is to just do what I can and be consistent with it.”
Freshman Ivan Roe finished two points behind Howland with 1,166. Ben Estes had the team’s top score in smallbore and had the third-best score for the team with 1,165 points.
The team heads to Lincoln, Neb., to compete against Nebraska State today and Ole Miss on Saturday, which also is in Lincoln.
The team returns home for the MSU Tri-Match against Jacksonville State and TCU Oct. 25.
“It’s not about where you start, it’s about where you finish,” Lollar said. “It’s a funny sport because you don’t line up to compete against everyone else, you line up to compete against yourself. The sport is about finding that one thing each week and improving upon it for the next match.”
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Staff writer