SMALLBORE CHAMPS: Settlemires Leads Rifle in Championship Performance

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Led by an individual national championship performance from Ethan Settlemires, the Kentucky rifle team claimed the NCAA Title in smallbore with a 2336 total team score and own a seven-point lead heading to the final day of competition, after day one of the 2010-11 NCAA Championships, hosted by Columbus State at the United States Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga., on Friday.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of this team,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “For Ethan to come in a win the individual NCAA Championship and set a new school record in the process is an amazing accomplishment. For him to be able to hold off a strong field that included the defending world champion is a really special deal. Ethan led us, but the whole team was great today and I am so proud of them.”

Kentucky won the national championship in smallbore on Friday, and Settlemires won the individual national championship in smallbore. Settlemires posted a match-best 590 team score to quality for the finals in smallbore and bested West Virginia shooter Nicco Campriani, considered the top shooter in the world, with a 691 total score.

“I was pretty confident going into the match,” Settlemires said. “After I got done, everyone saw that I was in first and everyone started hugging me and celebrating. It took me a second to even register what had happened; I was wondering why everyone was hugging me. That was a solid performance from everyone. That helps us going into tomorrow to have a lead. Instead of having to make up ground we just have to defend our ground and keep going.”

The Wildcats posted a 2336 as a team on Friday, good for the NCAA Title in smallbore and giving UK a seven-point lead heading into air rifle on Saturday. Saturday’s air rifle portion is set for the Frank G. Lumpkin Jr. Center on the Columbus State campus. West Virginia, the NCAA’s top-ranked team, sits in second place with a 2329 team score. Jacksonville State (2315), defending NCAA Champion TCU (2313), Alaska-Fairbanks (2299), Murray State (2296), Navy (2284) and Army (2273) round out the eight-team field through the first day of competition.

Settlemires led the way for the Wildcats but Heather Greathouse totaled a tone-setting 587 on the first relay of the day. Greathouse finished second on the team and third overall, finishing with a 685 total score after the finals. Freshman Emily Holsopple totaled a 581 and Henri Junghänel finished with a 578.

“Heather came out very focused today,” Mullins said. “Typically the first relay is kind of the pace setter. Sometimes it goes good and sometimes not. The rest of the team picks up on that. She came out and shot a 200 in prone, the first 200 prone of the year. She had a good standing and a good kneeling. She put together a solid performance.

“It goes along with what Mitch says; she put herself in position to have a winning performance. Mitch talks a lot about getting teams prepared and putting yourself in a position to compete for a championship and Heather helped us do that today. She started out and gave the team something positive, some confidence going into the rest of the day.”

The air rifle portion of the match will begin tomorrow morning on the Columbus State campus.

“We just need to do the same thing we did today,” Mullins said. “Two years ago we were in a similar situation, leading after day one and in competition for winning the national championship and the stress got to a few of the schools at the top. We have to put ourselves in a situation that we can’t worry about today tomorrow. I told the team that today is a day to celebrate and have fun, because they won the smallbore national championship. Nobody will ever be able to take today away from us. We earned today, but now we need to come out tomorrow and give it everything we have. We just have to compete for every point and stay focused throughout the day.”