No. 1 Kentucky rifle travels Saturday to Murray State for Withrow Open

The Wildcats are coming off a NCAA record team aggregate score of 4752 last weekend at Army

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Coming off the best performance in its rich program history, the No. 1 University of Kentucky rifle team looks to continue its sharp shooting Saturday as it travels to the western part of the Commonwealth to take part in the 2022 Withrow Open vs. Murray State.

The event, which also includes NC State, North Georgia, Jacksonville State and UAB, will take place inside the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range on the campus of Murray State University. Several teams will compete Friday and Sunday, but Kentucky and Murray State are set to begin sights and prep on Saturday around 10 a.m. ET. Live results and live targets will be available online at UKathletics.com.

“The Withrow Open is always a fun event for our squad and we are looking forward to competing again on Saturday,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “We obviously had some success last weekend, but it was back to work in training this week to try to get better. The Withrow is one of two matches we have left before the NCAA Qualifier, so it is important we take advantage of this opportunity to get better.”

Kentucky (7-1) is coming off its best performance in program history last weekend at Army, earning dual-match wins against NC State and Army. Sunday against NC State, UK posted three school records and a NCAA record. The match started with Kentucky earning a school-record team score in smallbore of 2360, besting its previous best of 2358. The Wildcats topped that in air rifle with a school-record 2392, which was one better than the previous best of 2391. The two high marks totaled a 4752 aggregate team score, which is not only a school record but a NCAA record.

Individually against NC State, Kentucky got a 1195 aggregate from senior Will Shaner, which tied the highest aggregate score in NCAA history. His 596 in smallbore was a career-best. Junior Mary Tucker shined in both disciplines, but posted a perfect score of 600 in air rifle. It marked the second time in her career she has scored a perfect air rifle score. Shaner’s 596 in smallbore tied the highest mark in the nation this season, while the 1195 aggregate is the best in the nation this year. Tucker’s perfect 600 is one of three in the nation, while she has three air rifle scores of 599 or better this season. Shaner and Tucker are leading the Wildcats this season. Shaner is averaging a 590.33 in smallbore and 596.333 in air rifle, while Tucker is earning a 589.667 in smallbore and 598.167 in air rifle.

Numerous other Wildcats secured career-best marks last weekend. Senior Richard Clark, who is averaging a 584.25 in smallbore and 594 in air rifle, posted a career-best 598 in air rifle against Army, while fellow senior Mitchell Nelson, who is averaging a 582.375 in smallbore and 591.5 in air rifle, earned a career-best 595 in air rifle vs. Army as well. All three UK freshmen shined last weekend with Allison Buesseler scoring a career-best 598 in air rifle against Army. Rookies Kayla Kalenza and Tori Kopelen each scored career bests in smallbore vs. Army and followed that with career bests in air rifle vs. NC State. Juniors Mason Hamilton and Emmie Sellers had good weekends. Hamilton is averaging 580.375 in smallbore and 594 in air rifle, while Sellers is earning 577.429 in smallbore and 588.125 in air rifle. Junior Jaden Thompson, who did not compete last weekend, is expected back this weekend and is having a great season averaging a 581.833 in smallbore and 587.833 in air rifle.

As a team, the Wildcats are averaging a 2342.50 smallbore aggregate and 2376.25 air rifle aggregate for a total team aggregate average of 4718.75. Following the Withrow, UK will have a dual match at West Virginia on Feb. 12, host a NCAA Qualifier vs. Morehead State on Feb. 19 and compete in the Great America Rifle Conference Championships in West Point, New York on Feb. 25-26.

Murray State is averaging a 2323 in smallbore, 2361.36 in air rifle and 4684.36 total this season. The Racers competed twice last weekend, defeating Jacksonville State 4707-4664 and UT-Martin 4626-4602. Matias Kiuru leads the team with a 585.222 smallbore average and 594.556 air rifle average.

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