Rifle ranks second

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Story by Alec MullinsContributing writer

With the 2015 portion of their schedule finished, the Murray State Rifle team stands at second overall in the NCAA.

Starting the season ranked sixth, the Racers climbed the ladder of rankings with the help of some record breaking performances and consistency.

Opening the season with a wide 4,676-4,508 win over UT Martin, the team had several standout performances. Ivan Roe, sophomore from Manhattan, Montana, put up a career high 587 smallbore score to finish as the top shooter in the event, alongside Tessa Howald, senior from Ozark, Missouri, who shot a match-high 591 in air rifle. The team effort was good enough to move the team into fifth overall just before the Ole Miss Invitational, where shooting 4,676 once again was good enough for a second place finish behind the third ranked Texas Christian.

The first records were broken in a loss to the Kentucky, where the Racers shot a program high 2,341 in smallbore and tied the team’s season high in air rifle with 2,352. Those two performances combined were enough to set a new program high 4,693 overall score and move the team up another rank.

The same records were broken again in a Tri-Match against conference opponents Morehead State and Jacksonville State. Shooting 2,348 in smallbore and a season high 2,366 in air rifle to finish with a school-record 4714 aggregate propelled the team over Jacksonville State’s 4,628 and Morehead’s 4,587.

After the Tri-Match, the team was tied for the top ranking with West Virginia heading into the Buckeye Open hosted by Ohio State. Shooting an aggregate 4,699, the second best score in program history, pushed the team over Ohio State, Nevada, Morehead State and TCU.

Another victory came against Morehead State before the Racers traveled to Stile Athletics Field House in Akron, Ohio, for Akron’s Championship Rehearsal Match. In a loss to West Virginia 4,697-4,692, Roe shot a career individual total at 1,183 with MacKenzie Martin following close behind at 1,171. This loss pushed the team back to fourth where they would remain for only one week before moving to third, despite not having a match.

In the last match of 2015, Ivan Roe’s career high 591 in smallbore and his 594 in air rifle together combined for a career high aggregate total of 1,185. The Racers would eclipse the 4,700 team aggregate score for the second time in the program’s history and the second time this season. Placing first in a five-team event at Jacksonville State, the team moved to second in the nation where they will remain until competition resumes in 2016.

Without team competition for almost two months, the first match of the New Year will be a Tri-Match against Ole Miss and Jacksonville State at 9 a.m. in Oxford, Mississippi. However, Roe, Ben Estes, sophomore from Ozark, Missouri, MacKenzie Martin, freshman from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and Alathea Sellars, freshman from Puryear, Tennessee, from the team will travel to the Olympic Training Center in December to compete in USA Shooting’s Winter Air Gun Championship.