Rifle Hosts WVU with Conference Title on the Line

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- With the regular-season conference title on the line, the Kentucky rifle team will host the powerhouse West Virginia Mountaineers - the team with the top score recorded in the NCAA this year - on Saturday in the regular-season finale at UK's Barker Hall.

"We are very excited for the match," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "Some of the kids think I am stressed out about a match like this, but really it is just my excitement. When you look at a team like West Virginia, it is postseason time already, the regular-season is over. Both teams have really strong lineups and the world champion is on their team. It doesn't get any better than that, to sit there and lineup against the No. 1 team in the nation and see how we respond."

Kentucky (9-1) is unbeaten in conference play, joining WVU, meaning that the winner of the match on Saturday will win the 2010-11 Great American Rifle Conference regular-season title. West Virginia boasts the top-ranked team in the nation, owning the highest team score recorded this season. The Mountaineers won the 2008-09 NCAA Title and are led by one of the top shooters in the world, Italian senior Nicco Campriani.

"One of the great parts is that we get to see them three times this year," Mullins said. "We want to have a good performance and be ready to play. They are a quality team, no doubt about that. They are very senior heavy and our hats are off to them, they have made a very solid run to put up the numbers they have this year."

UK is coming off an exhibition match with the Army Marksmanship Unit on Tuesday at Barker Hall. The two teams shot air rifle only, with UK's shooters getting the opportunity to shoot against some of the top competitors in the world. UK was led in that match by Megan English, who had a 590 in air rifle.

"We are going to go with Megan English on the air rifle team for the first time this season," Mullins said. "She had a great score in the Army Marksmanship exhibition match. We are still trying to figure out the lineups this year and one of the things that makes this team so special is the tremendous balance we have from 1-12. Regardless of what happens, it will be a great day Saturday."

Following the match with WVU, UK will conclude the regular-season. The Wildcats will return to action on
Feb. 12,hosting the NCAA Qualifier round at Barker Hall.

"I could see one of us (WVU or UK) having the new best score in the nation recorded this weekend," Mullins said. "When these two teams get together, it is exciting. They always bring their A game, so we will have to be up for the challenge. Our guys have been training hard, so we are eager to get out there. The great thing about it is that there is no defense in our sport, it is all about your ability to beat the course. We will see who will beat the course better at the end of the match."

UK Head Coach Harry Mullins