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UK rifle's trip north: Day four - A second match and heading home

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UK rifle fell to Alaska-Fairbanks on Sunday, 4695-4689. (Will Kindred, UK Athletics) UK rifle fell to Alaska-Fairbanks on Sunday, 4695-4689. (Will Kindred, UK Athletics)
On Thursday, the top-ranked Kentucky rifle team departed for Fairbanks, Ala., where the Wildcats will compete in two No. 1 vs. No. 2 matches with Alaska-Fairbanks on Saturday and Sunday. To help the Big Blue Nation keep up with their trip, student-athletes from the team will take turns blogging about their voyage. To close it out, Sonya May looks back on Sunday's match and describes the trip home.

By Sonya May

Still not completely adjusted to four-hour time difference, I woke up early this morning and did some homework until my roommate, Heather (Kirby), woke up. I spent the morning working and packing to head back to Kentucky.

Packing was a little bit of a challenge. Our bags coming up here were already stuffed with warm clothes and the souvenirs we all acquired just made it that much more difficult, but we managed to fit it all in.

Once I finished packing I headed downstairs for breakfast at the hotel. We all ate together as a team since we shot as one relay rather two like Sunday. Post-breakfast we headed over to the range a little earlier than yesterday, making sure we were prepared for the match in hopes of performing better than Saturday.

With all five counters for each team competing in the first relay, the ending was intense as both teams were neck and neck set to finish at the same time. Once I finished with air rifle, I sat with my team anxiously watching the last few wrap up, hoping the match would fall our way.

The results of the match didn't turn out as we had liked but there were positives to take out of Sunday's match. Our efforts were definitely better than the day before. All of us learned something from how we performed yesterday and we used that to our advantage in order to close the point gap by 25 and finish just six points behind Alaska today.

After we finished packing up our equipment we listened to a recommendation from some members of the Alaska team and headed to Loose Moose Cafe for lunch. The local burger joint featured some interesting meals, including buffalo burgers, moose chili and reindeer steak sandwiches.

Coach Mullins used the opportunity at lunch to talk to us about today, recapping how he was proud of us although we didn't come away with the win. He definitely wanted to make sure that we were all using this experience to grow and learn together.

During lunch everybody wasn't too hung up on the loss, we were still able to giggle and have fun while enjoying our last hours in Alaska together.

After lunch, we headed to the airport with our cars stuffed full of equipment. The views on the drives around here are amazing, so I tried to soak it in one last time during our final car ride.

We got to the airport a little early to make sure all our equipment was checked and through security. With the extra time, almost everyone took the opportunity to do some last-minute souvenir shopping at the gift shop in the airport, buying gifts and personal mementos to remember the trip.  

We're on our flight from Fairbanks to Seattle as I write this and we have a long journey ahead of us before we get back home. The total trip time is about 15 hours through the night so hopefully we'll be able to get some sleep and catch up on some homework during the flights.

Now that the trip is coming to a close, I look back at how much fun I had and how fortunate I am to have been a part of it.

This was the biggest trip of the year in my opinion and I was pretty stoked when I found out I was going to be on the traveling squad for it. I must admit though, when I stepped out of the airport on Thursday night and it was negative-23 degrees, I was rethinking my excitement for the trip. I adapted to the cold though and it all got better because Alaska is one of the prettiest places I've ever been.

From going to North Pole, Alaska, to seeing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, I really enjoyed getting to bond with my teammates and make these memories with them as we explored the wonder of Alaska.

We obviously would have liked to win both matches but the two losses did not ruin our trip. This was a great experience and we still have a long season ahead to prepare for the postseason.

Catching up on sleep is going to be a challenge when we get back as we will all be jetlagged, and lots of us are returning to classes and makeup exams. Fortunately, everyone is leaving for Thanksgiving during this week, so it will be a nice break before we head out to Winter Air Gun in Colorado.

As I look back now, I can't help but think about how blessed I am to have been able to come on this trip and to be able to shoot for the University of Kentucky Rifle Team, I don't think I could have asked for much more in my first semester of college.

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Can't tell. Did the excitement and cold of Alaska make for some "down" shooting by our Cats or is the Alaska team just that good?

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  • Guy Ramsey: Alaska is very good, coming into this weekend's match ranked No. 2 behind UK. read more
  • Jim Harris: Can't tell. Did the excitement and cold of Alaska make for some "down" shooting by our Cats or is the read more