Rifle bounces back, wins Kentucky Long Rifle match

Kentucky rifle team will return to action Sunday at 8 a.m. ET vs. Memphis at home

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – The University of Kentucky rifle team got strong performances top to bottom Saturday, including a 1190 aggregate from junior Mary Tucker, who was the event’s top performer, to earn another victory in the annual Kentucky Long Rifle Match over Murray State and Morehead State.

The Kentucky Long Rifle Match brings together the three NCAA Division I rifle programs from the Commonwealth, as Kentucky is the only state in the country with three collegiate teams. The match utilizes a unique format, aggregating the scores from six shooters instead of the five designated squad members for smallbore and air rifle commonly used within NCAA competition. The scores from the five squad designees were also still recorded from for NCAA qualifying purposes.

Kentucky claimed the match with a 7059 total, scoring a 3516 in smallbore and 3543 in air rifle. Murray State finished second with a 3489 in smallbore, 3533 in air rifle and total of 7022. Morehead State was third with a 3446 in smallbore, 3542 in air rifle and 6980 total. For NCAA scoring purposes, UK posted an aggregate of 4733 with a 2356 in smallbore and 2377 in air rifle. The impressive smallbore score was the highest of the season for Kentucky and tied for the fourth highest in the nation this season. The impressive overall aggregate gives Kentucky two team aggregates this season at 4733 or higher – one of two teams in the nation to claim that honor.

“This was a great match. All three teams performed at a high level today,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “I was very happy for the team in how they handled some of the struggles today. We still have a lot to work on, but I think we saw some really good things today. Looking forward to getting back at it tomorrow.”

Tucker was the top performer overall at the match, scoring a 593 in smallbore and 597 in air rifle for an aggregate of 1190. Senior Will Shaner was the event’s top smallbore performer with a 594. He earned the same score in air rifle for a 1188 aggregate. Shaner’s smallbore score was his highest of the season and the second-best mark in the nation this season. Tucker’s smallbore score was also a season high and tied for the third highest in the nation. Tucker is one of three shooters in NCAA to have two or more aggregates this season of 1190 or higher.

Senior Richard Clark had another strong showing Saturday, earning a 585 in smallbore and 593 in air rifle, while fellow senior Mitchell Nelson posted a 584 in smallbore and 593 in air rifle. The 593 for Nelson is a new career high in air rifle, besting his previous mark of 591, which he scored earlier this season. Also earning a career mark Saturday was Allison Buesseler, who scored a 569 in smallbore and impressive 591 in air rifle. Juniors Jaden Thompson and Emmie Sellers shot aggregates over 1160 with Thompson scoring a 583 in smallbore and 582 in air rifle, while Sellers earned a 577 in smallbore and 584 in air rifle. Fellow junior Mason Hamilton scored a 582 in smallbore and 580 in air rifle. Freshmen Kayla Kalenza and Tori Kopelen round out the UK performers with a 1135 and 1158 aggregate score, respectively.

Kentucky will be back in action Sunday against Memphis for a dual match inside Barker Hall. Spectators are invited to watch smallbore scores up in Barker Hall and enjoy free breakfast starting at 8 a.m. ET. The range will be open to spectators for air rifle. All spectators are required to be masked while inside Barker Hall or the UK Rifle Range. Admission is free.

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