The Murray State rifle team was honored for its OVC Championship before the Racer football game against Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 24. Chalice Keith/The News
Story by Blake Sandlin, contributing writer
Following a first-place finish in the Ole Miss Classic last weekend, Murray State’s rifle program is continuing to put up some of the best scores in the country against top-ranked schools.
The Racers capped off their weekend in Oxford, Mississippi, with a final aggregated score of 4690, beating fifth-ranked University of Kentucky and eighth-ranked University of Memphis in the seven-team tournament. Out of the seven teams competing, five were nationally ranked.
In an event where there was numerous talent, Head Coach Alan Lollar chalked his team’s performance up to the persistence they had on the day of match.
“As a team, we had the urgency to shoot well on the day we needed to shoot,” Lollar said. “It’s one thing to be able to do it in training, but it’s another thing entirely to be able to do it on game day. So we were really proud of the way we handled that.”
Lollar said that while his team tries to focus more on themselves than on the national rankings of their opponents, it still happens at times.
“They know the teams that are shooting close to the scores we are putting up, as well as the ones that are better than us, so it’s hard not to notice,” Lollar said.
Most small, mid-major schools like Murray State might relish the opportunity to defeat a larger school like Kentucky. Though Lollar says that he tries not to underestimate any of his opponents.
“We treat everyone the same and we try to give everyone the same respect,” he said. “Yet, there is a little more interest in the in-state rivalry. We butt heads so much with them in the year it’s hard to call it competing for bragging rights.”
After shooting against top-ranked teams over the past several years, the Racers earned themselves a fourth-place ranking in the national poll by the CRCA, despite being a smaller school. Lollar believes that in rifle, success of a program isn’t dependent on size.
“In rifle it doesn’t really matter about the size of the school you come from,” Lollar said. “As long as you have the commitment, the work ethic and the support of your school, then you can do the job.”
Lollar also believes his team’s consistency over the past years that he feels the Racers have earned the admiration of the opponents that they face, and that they are no longer viewed as an underdog.
“Murray State traditionally has been good, even though we’ve been up and down over the past several years,” Lollar said. “I think everybody respects us, I don’t think we sneak up on anybody, and that’s a tribute to the kids. They work hard and they have done a great job at being persistent, and that’s what gets people’s attention.”
Leading all shooters in the Ole Miss Classic during the weekend was Murray State shooter Ivan Roe. Roe finished with an aggregated score of 1183. Roe also led his team to a victory in its home opener against UT Martin, leading all shooters with an aggregated score of 1180. Roe’s performance this year has propelled him to being the second-ranked shooter in the nation, behind West Virginia Olympic gold medalist, Ginny Thrasher.
Lollar praised Roe’s performance on the range thus far, but also showed his admiration of Roe’s commitment to his studies.
“One thing about Ivan is that he organizes his time very well,” Lollar said. “He’s a very good student; he won the Elite 90 award at the championships last year for the highest GPA among the rifle participants. That helps him stay on an even keel throughout the year. There’s no doubt he’s one of the best.”
The Racers will be in action again when they face Jacksonville State in their second tri-match on Oct. 22 at the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range.