Feb. 2, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Off to an unbeaten record in conference play, the Kentucky rifle team will look to capture the Great American Rifle Conference Championship this weekend, traveling to Morgantown, W.Va., for the final two matches of the regular season, facing West Virginia on Friday and N.C. State on Saturday.
“We are very excited to get back out on the road, especially with the whole team this time,” UK head coach Harry Mullins said. “From a shooting standpoint we are very excited, although it can be challenging logistically with the whole team. West Virginia is coming off a loss to TCU, so they are going to be pumped up and ready to go. Between the two schools, the UK and WVU matchup is always a big matchup, regardless of if it has ramifications of who will win the regular season championship. Regardless of where we each are in the nation, it is always a good competition.”
Kentucky (9-1, 4-0 GARC) needs to beat West Virginia, who is also undefeated in conference play, and N.C. State to win the 2011-12 conference championship. The Wildcats own six total conference championships in the GARC, with its last title coming in 2011. Last year, UK won its first NCAA Championship behind Ethan Settlemires’ individual title in smallbore.
On Friday, UK will face off with West Virginia in a matchup of the only two unbeaten teams in the conference. Saturday, UK will face N.C. State and if it’s coming off a win on Friday night, a win would secure the league title.
“It is going to be close, all the way to the end. Both teams will want to win,” Mullins said. “There are big ramifications, in terms of who will win the conference championship. We are both undefeated in the conference and both have N.C. State left this weekend, us on Saturday and WVU on Sunday. So this weekend will determine who wins the conference championship. WVU is a great program, some tremendous athletes. Especially Petra, she shot a 600 in air rifle already this year. It is going to be a good match. I am excited, always excited to get on the road. We are taking the big sleeper bus, so the team will get to bond and travel in style. It is going to be a good test for us. WVU is the type of team that we have to compete at their level day in and day out in order to make our dreams come true. To go into their environment it will be a very good test for us to see how we can handle it. We are excited to get back out there and hammer out some 10s. From here on out it is pretty much an uphill climb. It is going to be an exciting start to the end of the regular season.”
The Wildcats are coming off a pair of matches last weekend, traveling to Murray State for the Withrow Invitational and hosting Morehead State on Sunday. In both matches, UK used its younger players on the roster, resting the starting lineup.
“I feel real solid about the performances that the young guys gave last weekend against Morehead,” Mullins said. “We are looking for them to continue to do that this weekend. They definitely have a chance to prove themselves. Since we took a limited team to Alaska, TCU and Army, the young guys get a chance to compete against one of the national powerhouses at WVU.”