Conference Title on the Line for Rifle in Oxford

Jan. 29, 2009

OXFORD, Miss. -- With the Great American Rifle Conference regular-season championship on the line, the Kentucky rifle team hits the road to face Ole Miss and N.C. State on Friday and Saturday. If UK could secure two wins over both league foes, Kentucky would notch its third conference championship in the last six years, tops in the league.

Kentucky (9-1) has claimed the GARC regular season championship in 2004 and 2007, with only Army posting two regular season conference championships since 2004. UK has a conference-high four GARC Tournament championships since 2001, including the title in 2007.

“This is going to be a really exciting weekend,” head coach Harry Mullins said. “We are without three of our top air rifle shooters and two of our best smallbore shooters because of some additional competitions, but we need to come out and perform our best to take home the conference title. It is scary to face Ole Miss because they are working to put up good scores so they can qualify for the NCAA Championships, so we know we are going to get their best effort. We just need to come out and focus and put up some good scores.”

The Wildcats were led last time out by Leslie Angeli, Ashley Jackson and Ethan Settlemires, helping UK to its eight consecutive win, with the lone setback on the year coming at the two-time defending NCAA Champion Alaska-Fairbanks. Settlemires totaled a career-high 594 in air rifle, Angeli a personal-best 581 in air rifle and Jackson an overall match-best 1176 – highlighted by a career-best 586 in smallbore during the match against Murray State.

UK will be without All-American Tom Csenge and freshmen Settlemires and Megan English, three fixtures in the Wildcat starting lineup. The trio is overseas competing in an international competition, leaving seven of UK’s 10 roster members to travel to Oxford.

“That is why they come to Kentucky, to win championships and perform at a first-team All-American level,” Mullis said. “They are capable of performing well and just need to come out and show the responsibility to get things done.”

UK will shoot against Ole Miss on Friday and N.C. State on Saturday. With one win, UK would be in a position to tie for the regular-season conference title with West Virginia, while two wins would give the Wildcats the outright title.