LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Highlighted by strong season-opening outings from seniors Henri Junghänel and Ethan Settlemires, the Kentucky rifle team - entering the season as the defending NCAA Champions - completed an exhibition match against the United States Army Marksmanship Unit, held Monday at Barker Hall.
The Wildcats were led by performances from Junghänel and Settlemires, as the two squads only shot air rifle during the exhibition. Junghänel posted a team-leading 594, with Settlemires tallying a 590.
"I thought it went well overall," UK rifle head coach Harry Mullins said. "For some of our guys to shoot neck and neck with some of the nation's elite is very encouraging. This was a talented pool of individuals, some of the top shooters in the nation. For our guys to compete with them helps us out quite a bit to break the ice on the season."
Several other returnees excelled during the exhibition, including Ed Ryznar (587), Stacy Wheatley (585) and Katie Fretts (582).
"We are excited about the freshmen," Mullins said. "Even thought their numbers weren't as high, they learned a lot and were able to recover from making mistakes. It also benefited the veterans, who were able to dust off cobwebs. While training has been great, it is tough to simulate that pressure from a coaching standpoint. (UK assistant) Stacy (Underwood) does a great job in helping get them to experience the pressure. It was unfair for us to throw them in that setting against such good competition, but it was important.
"We are definitely going to ramp up the intensity and the endurance part of it. But what better way to show them things then giving them an exhibition match to get that experience. Both of us were excited to see the effort and intensity the team brought. Now it is time to turn that intensity into 10s."
Several others shot in the match for the Wildcats, including veterans James Jasis (577) and Heather Greathouse (570), with newcomers Cody Manning (578), Jonathan Pinkel (575), John Sutton (571), Elijah Ellis (579) and Ethan Marne (574) rounding out the scoring for UK.
"Our program has a process and this is the beginning," UK assistant coach Stacy Underwood said. "We switched our focus to a progression of performances, with the end result being the conference and NCAA Championships. Some people may have been disappointed with their performances but it is all about how our training plan is going. The freshmen shot some personal records and the cool thing was they knew they could've done better. They saw they were getting better and they see what Harry and I see in them and why they are a part of the program."
UK opens the regular season on Oct. 21, hosting Great American Rifle Conference foe Ole Miss at UK's Barker Hall.
MULLINS ON EXHIBITION