Story by Blake Sandlin, Staff writer
The Murray State rifle team finished in third place for the second straight year at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
It was West Virginia that came away with the title by shooting an aggregate of 4,723 to win their fifth-straight national championship. Texas Christian finished in close second after shooting an aggregate of 4,706.
The Racers shot an aggregate of 4,692 for a third place finish in the eight-team championship field. They shot 2,326 in smallbore on Friday and a 2,366 in air rifle on Saturday.
Head Coach Alan Lollar said he was pleased with his team’s accolades over the weekend.
“I thought we performed well,” Lollar said. “The team worked hard all year and achieved a remarkable amount of consistent success.”
Murray State came into the championship match ranked third place overall and held true to their ranking. After their first day of shooting smallbore, Murray State came in fourth place despite setting a school record. All five shooters for the Racers shot over 580 in smallbore, an unprecedented achievement held solely by Murray State on Friday.
Following the team shooting 2,366 in air rifle on Saturday, the Racers managed to overtake Kentucky for third place. Lollar said that, although he felt the team had the potential to finish higher, West Virginia and Texas Christian’s performances made it difficult.
“It just was not our day,” Lollar said. “WVU and TCU arguably had the best two teams in NCAA Rifle history. They are to be congratulated on great seasons.”
The only two losses for the Racers this year came against West Virginia and Texas Christian.
Junior from Manhattan, Montana, Ivan Roe, shot an 1,176 aggregate with scores of 593 in air rifle and 583 in smallbore to lead the Racers. Sophomore Mackenzie Martin, from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and junior Ben Estes, from Ozark, Missouri, added aggregates of 1,174 to help the Racers secure a top-three finish.
Looking ahead, the Racers will have an early advantage as they will retain all of their shooters next season. Despite a familiar roster, Lollar said the increased shooting from the nation’s best will prevent his team from getting comfortable.
“The scores over the last ten years show that it never gets easier,” Lollar said. “We expect to have to work hard to keep up.”