Rifle prepares for NCAA qualifying

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Story by Sarah Combs, Staff writer 

The nationally ranked Murray State Rifle team delivered its 11th OVC Championship at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range in Murray last weekend.

The No. 2 team in the country wrapped up the weekend with 2,342 smallbore, 2,377 air rifle and 4,719 aggregate on its way to the title.

Last weekend was full of accomplishments for the team, not only in its domination of OVC teams but also in earning personal recognition.

Tessa Howald senior from Ozark, Missouri, was named All OVC first-team honors in both smallbore and air rifle after her final OVC Championship. Howald said the team’s success comes from the dedication and hard work from everyone as a whole.

“Everyone is working hard from our top to our bottom,” Howald said. “We have improved so much.”

Mackenzie Martin freshman from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, added a few accomplishments to her resume as well. She earned honors of OVC Co-Air Rifle Athlete of The Year, All OVC first-team in air rifle, All OVC second-team in smallbore and All Newcomer Honors.

Not only did the team bring home individual recognition, Head Coach Alan Lollar was named OVC Coach of The Year.

Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics

Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics

“It’s only possible because of this special group,” Lollar said in an interview Wednesday. “They do the work, they buy into the program and anything that I do good is only because they trust me and do the work.”

Howald attributed the team’s progress and accomplishments to Lollar’s dedication and guidance.

“Coach has done a wonderful job of molding this year’s plan to where we are helping individuals to get stronger,” Howald said.

Another key to the team’s success has been its roster’s depth. Alathea Sellars, freshman from Puryear, Tennessee stepped in for Ben Estes a sophomore from Ozark, Missouri, who got sick before the match. Sellars provided results for the team, shooting a 589.

Lollar said the team isn’t doing anything different to prepare, however the key to success is remaining consistent.

This past weekend stood out from the rest Lollar said. He said the team always prepares by envisioning how the shooters would like to see the match end, but the team went beyond his expectations.

“We usually come close but not like this weekend,” said Lollar. “This weekend is about as beautiful as it gets.”

The Rifle team now is preparing for the NCAA Qualifying Event held at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range on February 20.