UK Rifle Split into Two Squads for First Matches of Season

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 4 Kentucky rifle will begin the 2016-17 season with two matches on Saturday. The team will be split into two squads to compete at two locations – in Oxford, Mississippi, for the Ole Miss Open and at home for a match with North Georgia. The team will be split into two squads to compete at both locations. Live targets for the home match can be found here, while Ole Miss Open targets can be found here.

“We’re excited for the season opener with North Georgia at home,” head coach Harry Mullins said. “We’re taking the other six athletes down to Ole Miss for the Ole Miss Open. We’ve been training really hard for the last month and a half to get ready for this. The team’s been doing really well.

“We’re looking for some good performances. Our strength of schedule is pretty tough. Having to start out with the Ole Miss Open and North Georgia is going to test everybody. Looking at the first match, we’re hoping to stay in the range that we have been training and then looking to improve from there.”

Billy Azzinaro, Hanna Carr, Heather Kirby, Sonya May, Cathryn Papasodora, and Jason Spaude make up the squad for the Wildcats that will travel to Ole Miss for their first event of the season that’s set to begin at 9 a.m. ET.

During her freshman campaign, Carr won the GARC Air Rifle Championship and was named a smallbore first-team All-American and a second-team All-American selection in combined and air rifle. The Versailles, Kentucky, native was also the USA Shooting Junior Olympic Champion in three-position rifle and was a Team USA Selection for the ISSF World Championships. Carr averaged a 1175.75 in aggregate, 590.58 in air rifle and 585.17 in smallbore. Her smallbore season-best of 592 tied for the best performance by any collegiate competitor across the national all season, while her season-high aggregate score of 1186 also tied for the top score by a collegian in a match all season.

May comes into her senior season after finishing 12th at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the women’s three-position smallbore 50-meter event. The experienced Rockland, Massachusetts, native also shot the team-high air rifle score (597) prior to the finals at the GARC Championships last season. May averaged a 592.13 in air rifle, and a 1171.625 in aggregate. She is a three-time All-American.

Kirby enters her senior season as well being a three-time All-American. She averaged 591.29 in air rifle last season. Her season-high air rifle score of 595 came on Feb. 20 against Morehead State in the NCAA Qualifier.

Azzinaro, a junior from East Brunswick, New Jersey, took bronze at the USA Shooting Junior Olympics in 50-meter three-position smallbore over the summer. Last season, Azzinaro averaged a 585.89 in air rifle, with an aggregate average of 1161.88.

Spaude averaged a 585.2 last season in air rifle. His season-high air rifle score of 588 came in a match vs. Murray State before going on to shoot 587 on six different occasions, one of which came at the GARC Championships.

Papasodora, also a sophomore like Spaude, picked up her season-high air rifle score of 594 in a match against this weekend’s competition last season. As a freshman, Papasodora averaged a 587.79 in air rifle and 574.29 in smallbore.

Jenna Bethea, Morgan Duerr, Ian Foos, Carmen Fry, Andrew Miller, and Jason Sharbel make up the squad for the Wildcats that will compete at home against North Georgia. The Nighthawks enter Saturday’s match after shooting 4563 in Oxford last week. Start time is set for 8 a.m. ET.

As a freshman last season, Fry averaged a 588 in air rifle, and a 574.36 in smallbore, while posting her season-high air rifle score of 593. Bethea, a sophomore from Milledgeville, Georgia, enters this season with a 586.56 air rifle average, while Sharbel enters with a 582. Miller averaged 571.33 in air rifle during his junior season and shot his season-high air rifle score of 574 at the GARC Championships.

The two newcomers to the program, freshmen Duerr and Foos, will see the first action of their careers at Kentucky on Saturday. Foos was a USA Shooting National Champion. During his prep career, Foos won multiple state championships, regional championships, and the Montgomery Bell Academy Rifle Classic, the largest school sponsored shooting event in the United States.