UK Rifle Closes 2014 With Challenging Weekend in Alaska
FAIRBANKS, Alaska. - With the state of Kentucky, and much of the lower-48 states experiencing near-record low temperatures this week, the second-ranked Kentucky rifle team has ventured north to even colder weather for a challenging pair of matches to end the year.
The Wildcats will face perennial national championship contenders and seventh-ranked Alaska in Fairbanks on Friday at 9 a.m. ET, before facing No. 5 Nebraska on Saturday also at Alaska's E.F. Horton Rifle Range.
"This is definitely going to be our toughest challenge to date," UK head coach Harry Mullins said. "When you look at the competition, the rankings are definitely skewed in our favor. Alaska is a very strong team.
"I look at them as being one of three of four national contenders, especially with them hosting the championships. They are a very talented team to have four national team members that have competed at the junior or world championships in the last month or two months. I look for us to go there and stay focused on our performance and what we want to accomplish and work towards the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the season for this time of year and hopefully the numbers will work out in our favor.
Kentucky enters the weekend undefeated at 6-0 this season, but having yet to click on all cylinders so far. Kentucky won 4678-4615 over Great America Rifle Conference opponent and 15th-ranked Army at home two weeks ago in its last outing.
"We've had some challenges on the road so far this season and this is a really good test to see if we can overcome those challenges and see if we can perform at the level Kentucky rifle is supposed to perform at," Mullins said. "Overall, it will be a very tough test if both coaches get their way we will have good numbers but if that's the case then it should be very close. Alaska has had a month off so they will be hungry to get back out on the range and compete."
In addition to giving UK a stiff test to close 2014, ahead of the 2015 spring season - which will feature the championship portion of the schedule - the weekend will give UK the opportunity to test out the environment will host the NCAA Championships in mid-March.
UK's best score of the season, 4686, came in the season-opener against Akron in October.
UK has wins over No. 7 Murray State, No. 9 Akron, No. 12 Navy, No. 15 Army, No. 17 NC State and No. 14 UT-Martin this year.