The Racer rifle team finished its fall season with a split last weekend, losing to No. 2 University of Kentucky but beating No. 12 Army.
“I thought the weekend went well,” said Head Coach Alan Lollar. “Our match against UK was tough because they are a pretty good team, and they shot well as a team. We came out four points above our average, and I am very pleased with it.”
The Racers lost to UK by five points in the smallbore category with a score of 2,311 and finished up air rifle with a score of 2,350, giving the team an aggregate score of 4,661. Rifle has two categories, smallbore and air rifle. The difference between the two is the size of the barrel and the position they shoot from.
Smallbore requires three positions: kneeling, prone and standing.
For each position, the shooter gets 20 rounds for a total of 60 shots. Air rifle requires the shooter to stand the whole time and requires 60 shots, all while standing.
“I think they’ve done a good job,” Lollar said. “They’ve worked hard and been consistent. They have individually shot at a good level and when they do that the team does better. I am really proud of them for that.”
Leading the Racers Fri. Nov. 7 were freshman Ben Estes, sophomore Sam Harris and junior Tessa Howald. All three shot above 570 both days. The highest score possible is a 600.
Following Friday’s match against UK, the Racers shot Sat. Nov. 8 against Army. The Racers finished smallbore with a total of 2,312 and air rifle with a score of 2,337, giving them an aggregate score of 4,649.
Another of the team’s top scorers both days was junior Kaitlyn Wilson. She helped the Racers by shooting above a 550 in both categories against UK and Army.
“For me, UK was intimidating because they are a big school with big numbers,” Wilson said. “We did better this year than we did last year against them. The Army was a little down, but we knew we could come out top. UK just had it all together that day.”
Senior Kelsey Emme and Estes led the Racers against Army, both ending with identical scores in smallbore.
The team finished the fall season ranked No. 8 in the NCAA. Lollar said because the fall season is over, the team will now focus on training for spring, specifically in air rifle.
“Consistency is what’s important,” Wilson said. “Personally I will work on my smallbore since I have a decent air rifle score, but as a team we need to work on our intensity. As a team we will bump up our training; we have had enough matches at this point everyone knows what to expect.”
Looking back from the beginning of the semester, Wilson said she’s seen freshmen like Ivan Roe and Estes step up and support the older team members as well as the older members help out the younger members.
She said the team has changed drastically since she was a freshman and she’s seen the team become a family.
Wilson said not everyone has a good day everyday so to see another team member do well makes the team feel good.
The spring season will start with the second MSU Tri-match against Columbus State and UT Martin Jan. 11th at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range.
Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor