Rifle Cats Take Second In NCAA Championship
March 17, 2002
The University of Kentucky rifle team completed another extraordinary season with a second-place finish at the 2002 NCAA Championships in Murray, Ky., this weekend, Mar. 14-17.
The Cats, who dominated the NCAA Sectionals and GARC Championships last month, posted an overall score of 6209 points out of a possible 6400, while this year's champion, Alaska Fairbanks grabbed the title with a score of 6241. UK edged out third-place Xavier by only five points. This is UAF's fourth consecutive NCAA title and Kentucky's second consecutive runner-up finish.
Kentucky finished second in both the smallbore and air rifle competitions being led by sophomore Bradley Wheeldon and freshman Aaron Shader. Wheeldon finished fifth in smallbore action with a score of 1172 while Shader came in ninth-place with a 1169, adding to UK's team score of 4657. James Nash tossed in a 1168 while Lindsey Meagher tallied a 1148 in the competition. In air rifle action, the Cats scored a 1552 with Wheeldon taking fourth-place with a score of 393. Shader came in tenth with a 389 followed by teammates Crystal Hamilton and Nash with scores of 385 to round out the scoring slate.
In award ceremonies following the competition, several Wildcats were honored with National Rifle Association All-American awards that are issued to student-athletes who have a high season average, performed well in NCAA sectionals, have a high grade-point average, and have received recommendations from coaches. Nash, Shader and Wheeldon were honored as members of the air rifle second team, while Nash and Wheeldon took honors on the smallbore first team. Shader took honors as a member of the smallbore second team. Receiving All-Academic Award honors were Wheeldon, Meagher, Hamilton, Jeff Hamburg and Melody Cook.
"This was a remarkable season for our team," Coach Harry Mullins said. " To come out and compete at the level we have been over the past few weeks with such young shooters says a lot about this team's work ethic and desire. I'm very impressed and proud of both their heart and patience. I look for things to only get better for this team next season in returning the entire squad but with more experience."