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UK rifle's trip north: Day three - Lessons learned in a loss

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The Kentucky rifle team will take on Alaska-Fairbanks at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday after falling 4702-4671 on Saturday. (Will Kindred, UK Athletics) The Kentucky rifle team will take on Alaska-Fairbanks at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday after falling 4702-4671 on Saturday. (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. Today, senior Emily Holsopple discusses lessons learned from UK's Saturday loss.

By Emily Holsopple

The day started like a typical morning of a road match. I woke up at 6 a.m., and got ready like any normal day, of course the only difference being I put my long johns on and bundled up in many layers to prepare to venture out in the cold.

The four of us shooting the first relay, Connor (Davis), Heather (Kirby), Sonya (May) and I, met downstairs in the hotel for the breakfast buffet to eat before we headed to the range.

Following breakfast we all hopped in the cars to head to the range around 7:40 a.m., hoping to get to the range about an hour before the match. We may have accidentally taken a bit of a detour because we took the wrong road but we made it there with more than enough time to prepare.

With seven of us traveling, we split up into two relays with four on the first and three on the second. The relay was different, normally we have six or seven lined up together competing. You could tell a difference with only four of us there but it was something we quickly forgot about.

We were a little rusty and got off to a somewhat rocky start. We were coming off a two-day break and tired from all the travel and I don't think we were as mentally prepared as we could have been but that's a lesson we had to learn the hard way today. It's a valuable lesson for us to learn at this point in the year, if we take it in stride and grow on in it then it will be very beneficial for us down the road.

While we didn't put up the overall numbers we were looking for today there were still some definite bright spots. The freshmen did a great job, for it being the second road matches of their careers; they really put together some strong performances and didn't get caught up in the early struggles. Kirby and Sonya are both still young and learning but I was really proud of their efforts today.

With the first relay complete and the second relay preparing, we took suggestions from members of the Alaska-Fairbanks team about where to go to lunch and eventually journeyed to a local restaurant called Ivory Jack's. The trip to the hole-in-the-wall led to some amazing views as we weaved in and out of the mountains north of Fairbanks. As we walked out of the local spot it was fascinating to see a group pull up to the restaurant on snowmobiles.

We headed back to the range to support the second relay and the three of them really worked hard to put together some good numbers. Aaron (Holsopple) had a really good performance, his 581 in smallbore bumped up our aggregate and (Elijah) Ellis's 588 in air rifle also gave our score a boost.

The results obviously weren't what we had planned for, but we held together well today when things went south. It could have gone a lot worse.

Honestly, we've now had one bad day this year... It was bound to happen. But we must take it in stride, learn from it and use what we learned to try to prevent it from happening again.

There's a lesson to be learned from today. It kind of opened our eyes a little bit and I think we can go forward with what we learned. It's not all rainbows and butterflies from here on out; it's hard work and it's back to working hard on Sunday.

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