Story by Cory Sharber, Contributing writer
The No. 3 ranked Murray State rifle team is looking to build upon it success with ‘The Murray State Way.’
Head Coach Alan Lollar said ‘The Murray State Way’, revolves around striving to be the best in everything you do every single day. Continual development and improvement is key for this team especially, which has struggled to overcome the likes of top-ranked West Virginia and second-ranked Texas Christian University in the NCAA Championships in recent years.
Despite consistent improvements, scores across the nation continue rising, Lollar said because the competition across the country has continued to develop, his team has no room to make mistakes in any given match.
“Their margin for error is so small,” Lollar said. “However, it prepares you for a stressful situation during a match.”
Despite earning that number three ranking, Lollar said his team clearly has steps to improve in order to overtake the likes of West Virginia and TCU.
“The ranking means a lot. It’s the motivation to try to get higher,” Lollar said. “It’s a compliment, but it’s also a reminder that we’re not there yet.”
The Racers return seven All-Americans, as well as OVC First-Team members. Two of the members, senior from Manhattan, Montana Ivan Roe and senior from Fairhaven, Massachusetts Mackenzie Martin, are currently competing for spots on the USA National Team.
Much like Murray State, the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs consist of teams filled with seasoned All-American shooters. The Racers faced a tough task in overtaking the two teams last season, and never managed to garner the top spot from West Virginia, who went on to win the NCAA Championships.
Just like any other sport, though, there are always programs vying to overtake those at the top, and Lollar said there are numerous other programs closely biting at their heels.
“West Virginia and TCU are high quality programs,” Lollar said. “I throw Kentucky, Nebraska and a lot of other teams into that mix as well.”
Lollar said that his ultimate goal is to return to the NCAA Championships yet again, where he says is anybody’s game because of how meticulous the sport of rifle is.
“Our goal is to be playing on the last day of the season,” Lollar said. “On that day, any of the eight teams that got there has a chance to win. You can’t play defense. It takes that day of your best being better than their best.”
In Lollar’s 10 seasons at the helm of the rifle program, he’s seen a lot of success.
Since taking over, he’s led the Racers to three OVC championships and a 3rd place finish in the NCAA Championships last season. But this year, Lollar said, might be the team’s best chance to make a run for the national title.
“I can say without a doubt that this is the deepest team we’ve ever had,” Lollar said. “This is the best team we’ve had yet.”