Rifle Opens 2012 at West Point

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- After blistering through its fall schedule, the defending national champion Kentucky rifle team opens the spring portion of its season slate, traveling to face Army on Saturday at the Tronsrue Rifle Range.

“We are excited to get the spring season started,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “We hope the weather will hold up and the travel will be smooth. The team is anxious to get out on the road and get the semester started in general. Attitudes and performances have been high in training camp and (UK assistant) coach (Stacy) Underwood has the team in a great mindset to open the second-half of the year.”

Kentucky (7-0, 3-0 Great American Rifle Conference) breezed through its fall portion of the schedule with a perfect record, including league wins over Ole Miss, Memphis and Nebraska, and non-conference victories over Ohio State, Murray State and most recently Air Force and Alaska-Fairbanks. UK’s best outing of the year came in a NCAA-record breaking 4711 total team score in a win over Memphis, breaking the record the Wildcats set in a 4700 total team score in claiming the 2010-11 NCAA Championship.

“Training camp went really well,” Mullins said. “We were a bit short because Henri (Junghänel) was back in Germany and he hasn’t had a whole lot of training time yet. The rest of the team had some really good performances throughout training camp and are ready to get back on the road. It is always exciting to go to West Point. It is a great place to shoot and Army has a great program. They have definitely put themselves in a position to be one of the top eight teams at the NCAA’s. This being a conference match, it has the potential to be a high-intensity, close match.”

Army (5-2, 4-1 GARC) has been led by senior Kelly Buck, junior William Mengon and sophomores Joseph Todaro and Michael Matthews. The match will pit the Wildcats, ranked No. 3 in the latest Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association top-20 poll (4688.67), against the fourth-ranked Army Black Knights (4655.33).

“It will be a tall task for the team on Saturday,” Army head coach Ron Wigger said. “Kentucky knows they won't be able to walk all over Army and will have to perform well to beat us. If we have a stellar day on Saturday and Kentucky has an average one, then we have a good chance of beating them. I am looking forward to this weekend as we respond well to the better teams.”

The Wildcats have been led during the fall semester by veteran shooters Henri Junghänel, Emily Holsopple, Heather Greathouse, Ethan Settlemires and Stacy Wheatley.

“It is always great to shoot at the Army venue,” Mullins said. “We have had good success there the last few years starting out the spring semester in terms of some good performances. We need to focus on getting better every day, every match. We ended the semester with some decent scores in Alaska and we need to pick up where we left off in the fall.”