No. 8 Rifle team prepares for final regular season match

Kory Savage/The News Junior Tessa Howald led the Racers in smallbore during the Withrow Open at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range Sunday.
Kory Savage/The News Junior Tessa Howald led the Racers in smallbore during the Withrow Open at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range Sunday.

Kory Savage/The News
Junior Tessa Howald led the Racers in smallbore during the Withrow Open at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range Sunday.

The No. 8 Murray State rifle team ended its regular season by winning the Withrow Open last weekend at its home range and, in the process, took down two of the top five teams in the country.

At the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range, the Racers out-shot the other nine teams, including the  No. 3 University of Kentucky as well as No. 5 Jacksonville State.

Both of those teams had defeated the Racers in competitions in the fall. In addition to that loss, Jacksonville State beat the Racers Jan. 18 in Alabama, 4677-4649.

“We’re always concerned about the University of Kentucky and Jacksonville State,” said Head Coach Alan Lollar. “They always make it tough, but I was real proud of them.”

During this last competition before the OVC Championships Feb. 7, Lollar said he saw more consistency than he has all season.

“The biggest challenge was overcoming all the distractions,” Lollar said. “We managed to break records and set a new smallbore aggregate score.”

Lollar said the entire team came forward setting new records and stepping up on the way to a season-high score of 4,687.

Among the Racers’ top shooters were junior Tessa Howald from Ozark, Mo., shooting a career high of 586, and senior Kelsey Emme from Piedmont, S.D., as well as freshman Ben Estes from Ozark, Mo., shooting the same score of 583.

Junior Hannah Harris from New Albany, Ind., proved to step up and shot her season high of 573.

“The more experience they have and the more they get used to the idea of doing the best they can do, the better the outcome will be as a team,” Lollar said.

The Racers will rest this week and prepare for OVC Championships at the range in Jacksonville, Ala. Lollar said he believes the team has been growing up and should do well as long as the shooters stay focused during competition.

Lollar said the team members won’t train any differently for the championships than they have the rest of the season.

“OVC is no different than any other match,” Lollar said. “It’s doing the best you can do every shot. They’ve proved they know how to do that but it’s whether or not they can do it again this time.”

Story by Kelsey RandolphAssistant Sports Editor