No. 2 Alaska-Fairbanks Knocks off No. 1 Kentucky Rifle

Nov. 23, 2013

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Fairbanks, Alaska – The second-ranked Nanooks of Alaska-Fairbanks handed the No. 1 Kentucky rifle team its first loss of the season on Saturday, edging the Wildcats 4702-4671 in a matchup of the top-two teams. The squads will meet again on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at the E.F. Horton Rifle Range, the final match of the fall for UK.

“Overall I hope that we learned a lot from today, it seemed at times our edges were a little too sharp and we lost some points in areas that we shouldn’t have lost,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “The great part of a trip like this is that we get an opportunity to come back tomorrow and make adjustments to certain areas and look to bounce back.”

Alaska-Fairbanks jumped out to an early lead in smallbore, besting UK with a 2337 aggregate smallbore to the Wildcats’ 2317.

In the first smallbore relay for Kentucky, sophomore Connor Davis led the way with a 581. Senior Emily Holsopple delivered a 579 and freshmen Heather Kirby and Sonya May shot a 576 and 575, respectively.

As a counter, senior Aaron Holsopple shot in the second relay and bumped the Wildcats score with a 581. As smallbore individuals, juniors Elijah Ellis and Cody Manning posted a 571 and 568, respectively.

Alaska-Fairbanks’ 2337 in smallbore is a season best for the squad and ties West Virginia’s 2337 vs. Army in October as the highest team smallbore score this year.

The Nanooks’ performance was sparked by four counters breaking 580, including Tim Sherry leading the way with a 588.

Davis led the Wildcats in air rifle for the fifth time in six matches this year, shooting a 593. Kirby and May put together solid performances in the first air rifle relay, with Kirby shooting a 586 and May posting a 587.

Ellis elevated the Wildcats’ air rifle score as a counter in the second relay, shooting a 588. Aaron Holsopple delivered a 585, while Manning posted a 571 to round out the air rifle second relay.

Alaska-Fairbanks saw three counters break 590 in air rifle, with Ryan Anderson shooting a 594, Mike Liuzza a 592 and Sherry a 591, to give the Nanooks an aggregate air rifle score of 2365.

“Alaska is a great program, today’s performance was the first time a team has broken 4700 this year,” Mullins said. “You can tell from their body language that they’ve been working very hard and seem focused right now. As expected, they’re definitely going to be a strong competitor for the national championship.”

The loss snaps a nine-match winning streak for the Wildcats with the last loss coming in December of 2012 when TCU shot a 4718 to UK’s 4693.

“Despite the loss, we saw some good things during situations that some people got themselves in to,” Mullins said. “The loss didn’t come from a lack of effort, we just need to learn from this and stay focused in certain areas in order to reach the levels we are trying to reach. If we learned something from today’s loss it’s definitely a plus for us in the future.”

Follow Kentucky’s trip to Alaska on Cat Scratches, the official blog of UK Athletics.