After delivering a 2355 on Saturday in air rifle, the University of Kentucky rifle team moved up two spots to finish second at the 2013 NCAA Rifle Championships in Columbus, Ohio, adding to Friday’s 2315 in smallbore to bring the team’s aggregate score to 4670.
“I’m very proud of the performance that we gave throughout the whole weekend,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “The match was so close, all the way to the finish with it being decided in the last air rifle relay by some great shooters.”
Junior Emily Holsopple opened the day off for Kentucky with a solid 587 in the first relay. Senior Heather Greathouse and junior Aaron Holsopple also shot in the first relay. Greathouse contributed to the team score with a 586 while Aaron Holsopple shot a 581.
The Wildcats were led in the second air rifle relay by senior Henri Junghänel and freshman Connor Davis. Junghänel shot a 590, the seventh best individual score of the day, while Davis led Kentucky with a 592, the third-best score the day. After the individual air rifle final, Davis placed fourth at his first NCAA Championship appearance.
West Virginia took first place in air rifle with a 2363, and claimed the overall title with an aggregate score of 4679. Defending champion TCU rounded out the top three, shooting a 2347 on Saturday to finish the championships with an aggregate score of 4664.
“All the coaches that finished in the top three can say we left points on the board because all three of us have broken 4700 this year,” Mullins said. “I think being able to medal is honorable in itself. It demonstrates the parity in college rifle.”
On Friday, Junghänel battled individual aggregate champion Petra Zublasing in the smallbore finals, falling by .5 points to claim the silver medal.
Junior Emily Holsopple opened Friday for Kentucky in the first relay, shooting a 576. Senior Heather Greathouse and junior Aaron Holsopple followed in the second relay, with Greathouse posting a 572 and Aaron Holsopple shooting a 574 to contribute to the team score. Along with Junghänel, freshman Connor Davis represented the Wildcats in the third relay, delivering a 576.
Senior Stacy Wheatley and sophomore Elijah Ellis were two of four to compete as individuals in smallbore at the championships. Wheatley shot a 571 in the first relay on Friday, while Ellis posted a 575.
TCU won the smallbore team title, shooting a 2317.
This is the Wildcats’ second consecutive runner-up finish since winning the title in 2011. In 2012, the Wildcats finished 15 points off champion TCU.
The championships conclude Kentucky’s successful season, which includes a Great America Rifle Conference regular season championship and a second-place finish at the GARC Championships.
The season also included a record-setting win over Army, a match in which Kentucky broke the program records for total aggregate score (4716), aggregate smallbore (2348), individual aggregate score (Henri Junghänel – 1186) and individual smallbore (Junghänel – 592).
“I’m proud of our team this year,” Mullins said. “I thought we had a great body of work. We only had one regular season loss. I’m disappointed for the kids a little bit because they obviously worked hard and didn’t achieve the end goal but part of our end goal was to leave nothing on the range and that’s what they did.”