CHAMPIONS: Rifle Captures GARC Tournament Title

March 1, 2009

OXFORD, Miss. -- Just a month removed from claiming the Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship with an undefeated regular season, the Kentucky rifle team posted a 4650 total score to win the GARC Tournament, Saturday and Sunday at the Patricia C. Lamar National Readiness Center on the campus of Ole Miss.

Kentucky (10-1, 6-0 GARC) had to withstand a strong push from West Virginia in the air rifle portion of the match Sunday, after UK shot a match-leading 2310 in smallbore Saturday. The Wildcats finished second to the Mountaineers in air rifle Sunday, posting a 2340, second to WVU’s 2350 in air rifle. West Virginia finished second with a 4645 overall score.

“I was really excited for the kids, this was a really neat match to watch and our hats go off to West Virginia and the rest of the league this season,’” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “WVU really came back today and shot a great air gun score, which really put the pressure on us. This league was amazing this year, looking at the firing line, it was just All-American after All-American. But, this team just finds ways to win and I am really proud they came out with the championship in a tough field.”

UK was led in air rifle by Tom Csenge’s 591, following by Ashley Jackson (586), Ethan Settlemires (583) and Megan English (580). Leslie Angeli contributed a 582 in air gun, with Sarah Broeker totaling a 576, Andrew Roland a 572 and Jen Pason a 571.

In smallbore, UK was led by Settlemires (579), Jackson (580), Roland (576) and Csenge (575). Pason added a 578 in smallbore, finishing sixth overall. Settlemires, a freshman from Kossuth, Miss., finished first overall in the smallbore finals, with Jackson placing second.

“I am so proud of Ethan and everything he has accomplished this season,” Mullins said. “He has worked so hard and has solidified himself as one of the top shooters in the nation. To come in as a freshman and win the overall smallbore title is quite an accomplishment.”

Settlemires’ smallbore individual championship marked UK’s first since the 2006 season, when Jason Dardas won the title. Settlemires marks the fifth all-time UK player to win the individual smallbore championship, dating back to 1998.

“We left some points on the board, a little bit of it were the match nerves, in terms of meeting our expectations,” Mullins said. “It is hard to be on a team that has high expectations. You have to find it in yourself to build that confidence to meet those expectations. This weekend was a good stepping stone for meeting expectations because we could experience the high-pressure situations in preparation for the NCAA Championships.”

Kentucky’s tournament championship marked its fifth all-time GARC tournament title, dating back to the inaugural year of the GARC, 1998. UK next returns to the NCAA Championship, held on the campus of TCU, March 13-14 in Dallas, Texas.